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* Posts by Nigel Whitfield.

600 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

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Festive streamers caught in Vulture's claws: Gadget-ogle for audiophiles, video geeks

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Roku3

Yep; and the Plex apps are on sale until tomorrow (29th) so if you have a Synology or something like that, you can put Plex server on and access content on the Roku that way.

£1.49 for the Roku plex app, which is a worthwhile addition, in my view.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: I'd quite like the Dual autochanger

I have mostly fond memories of the old Hacker Cavalier record player from my youth, with a Garrard autochanger. The mechanics in those sorts of things are ingenious.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: For once Apple aren't the expensive option.

I used to use an Airport Express in the kitchen, but it died after several years service, and has now been replaced with the uStream for the time being. Though most of the time, it's Radio 4 in there.

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Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Some niggles

OK. Spoke too soon; while playing with streamers for another piece here, I fired up Blinkbox and Netflix, and the former in particular was an absolute dog - trying to go to a specific part of the film was impossible.

I've also seen increased ANRs all over the place.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Some niggles

My 2017 N7, like many, was getting pretty sluggish before the update. Last week, I wiped the cache partition, and that perked it up a little.

After that, I wouldn't say that Lollipop has made it significantly slower - I've long since given up trying to do anything else when it's updating apps, for example - but there are some niggles.

The Dolphin browser sulks and crashes, and switching between things in the Kobo reader app is definitely slower, though there's no appreciable difference when actually reading. Also, whichever font I select in that, I now get a sans serif one, which is just a bit unpleasant for reading in bed.

These days, reading is the main thing I use the tablet for, so perhaps I haven't noticed performance as much as others may.

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'How a censorious and moralistic blogger ruined my evening'

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: cast the first stone

I rather think there's a world of difference between those hacks who dig up gossip and trivia about people's sex lives for the news of the screws, and those who make perfectly legitimate comments about the business practices of a company.

Or are you suggesting that because someone else once wrote something really tacky about <insert name of soap star> then a company like, say, Wonga would be entitled to dig up dirt about my private life, if I wrote something critical of them?

The remarks made by the Uber exec seemed to suggest that it was not a case of someone saying something like "that Whitfield hack, he got bought lunch by Yamaha, we can't trust a word he says" but information of a much more personal nature that would be sought out.

I don't think that's acceptable, whatever side - and I have just as much contempt for journalists who publish tittle tattle as I would for a company that thought it was a reasonable way to retaliate. Probably even more, in fact, as the sleazier hacks give us all a bad rep.

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UK digi exclusion: Poor families without internet access could 'miss out' on child tax credit

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: no friends with any computer literacy ?

For some people, this sort of thing is as embarrassing as having to say to a friend "Can I borrow your computer to look up STD clinics? I've got this discharge..."

They who would simply die of mortification if they thought that their friends would know they have to apply for tax credits.

There is a large number of people eligible for various benefits who don't claim them, for a variety of reasons. I think we should be trying to help those people more, not adding "can't afford a computer" to the list of reasons.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: What about Public Libraries?

Public Libraries are under threat in many parts of the country, and despite their legal obligations to maintain a comprehensive service, a lot of councils are cutting them, or handing them over to teams of volunteers (because who needs librarians, eh?).

So, for many people, there may not be a convenient library - and that will be particularly true in rural areas.

Even if there is, a lot of people may not be very keen on having to sit on at a screen in a public place where they could be overlooked, filling in details of their family's financial circumstances. That will be a situation that's exacerbated for those with poor IT skills, who may need someone to help them through the process.

Yes, doing government online can save money - but it should never be the only way, otherwise, as hear, some of those who most need help will end up being unable to access it adequately. And when that happens, it seems to me that it's less a way of making government more efficient and more a way of further inconveniencing the less well off so that others can be bought off with tax cuts from the 'savings' come election time.

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BAD SANTA: Don't get ripped off this Christmas

Nigel Whitfield.
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Yes, indeed, that was the intent - and the wording I've seen about the new CSRs does make it a lot clearer, for example the document available from BIS.gov.uk states pretty clearly that

"they can reduce the amount of money refunded for goods returned which show evidence of use beyond the handling necessary to see whether the goods are as expected."

The more consumer friendly version from Which? makes it clear that

"A deduction can be made if the value of the goods has been reduced as a result of you handling the goods more than was necessary.

The extent to which a customer can handle the goods is the same as it would be if you were assessing them in a shop."

From AC's comment, and others I've heard, I suspect that some people have tended to view this provision of the DSRs in the past as more of a "no obligation home trial" than was originally intended, and the clarification in the new version will hopefully make things a bit clearer on both sides.

It must be very frustrating for businesses - especially small traders - when a customer not only maintains that they are always right, but that "they know their rights" when patently neither is actually the case.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Further shopping tips @John Brown

The current cheque clearing process in the UK (other countries are available) is 2/4/6 - on the second working day after paying in, the money starts to earn interest, by the 4th it's available for you to use, and by the 6th, it cannot be returned without your consent, unless you have acted fraudulently.

There is a plan to speed this up even more, by allowing banks to present image of cheques to each other, instead of the real thing.

So, if you do want to stop a cheque, you need to be pretty quick or make sure you do have good evidence that you've been defrauded.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: No EU, less cover

Some companies do seem to very badly train their staff, and in particular the DSRs (now CCRs) seemed to cause a lot of confusion, with some vendors telling punters that their time to reject was from the day of order, or despatch, and that the time limits included the time returning something.

That's one area where this year's update makes it much much clearer what the time limits are, and it should be consequently simpler for people to use.

A receipt is not a requirement to prove you bought something, though it can help establish time and date. You get the impression, however, that sometimes - as in the Tesco case mentioned above - the staff would rather you just went away and left them alone.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Further shopping tips @Nigel

If only! I have one client who pays me by cheque every month, and occasionally there are others who try the same thing.

There may well be those who are cautious of using online payment systems, especially after some of the stories of data breaches in recent months, and think that using something offline is less likely to get them ripped off, or have their card details stolen.

It may not be a huge number, but I do think it's worth pointing out to those people that, whatever the flaws in a service like PayPal, it will offer them a little more protection.

There are vendors on sites like eBay who ask for alternative methods of payment "to avoid expensive PayPal fees" and while you and I might automatically avoid them like the plague, not everyone does.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Further shopping tips

While not bad, I'd have to say, re PayPal, while I've never met anyone who actually likes using them, you will at least have some greater degree of protection paying that way than, for example, if you were to put a cheque in the post or make a direct payment to someone's bank account, neither of which is has any real protection at all, short of stopping a cheque before it's been cashed.

Amex does indeed have ok customer service (though from my own experience, I wouldn't say excellent). However it's important to remember the distinction between charge and credit cards. A credit card offers you statutory protection in the UK under Section 75. A charge card does not, so while Amex does have a chargeback scheme, I would always suggest using a credit card because of the joint liability.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: No EU, less cover

Just call it "business choking red tape" instead of consumer protection, and everyone will be fine

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Mastercard and Visa to ERADICATE password authentication

Nigel Whitfield.
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Yes, precisely. The card companies are always looking for ways to shift responsibility, whether on to the user ("oh, our systems never fail, you must have shared your PIN, so tough luck") or to the retailer ("you didn't use 3D Secure? The fraud's your problem")

I suspect they have been trying to do this ever since credit really started to boom in the 80s, and I doubt they've never liked the joint liability the UK's Consumer Credit Act imposed upon them back in the 70s.

I recall in the recession of the 90s, when I was working on Computer Buyer, and a reader had lost money when a mail order PC firm collapsed. When we spoke to their card company, they were trying hard to argue that things like lots of people ordering PCs by mail order were completely unforseen by the people who drafted the 1974 Act, and so they really didn't have an obligation to pay out.

In my view, they have been wriggling for years, and this is just the latest in a long line of attempts to ditch some of their obligations.

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VINYL is BACK and you can thank Sonos for that

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Quality Sound?

With shellac gramophone records, one of the things that people often forget is that the needles wear out very quickly. I have a wind up gramophone here, and a pack of Songster needles I bought years ago at Whitwams Music in Winchester.

The label says "use once only" but I think they were the last pack the shop had in stock, and I doubt I'll ever find another, so they get used a few times. Replacing the needle on a gramophone, even if you don't clean the records, makes a massive difference to the quality of the sound.

I wonder how often the museum changes the needles?

(If you want to see the pack, I tweeted a pic of it around noon today, @nigelwUK)

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: What's the point?

Well, a portable turntable for cars wasn't unknown. Though none of them seemed to been made for LPs.

Perhaps a mash up of something like that and the Lapanese laser pick-up mentioned in another comment, and you could come up with a sort of giant Sony Discman for vinyl. Add some massive headphones with big sliding volume controls on each ear for a Cyberman effect, and the hipsters would lap it up.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Wot - No LP12?

I still have my LP12, inherited from a friend. But, as you mention, that then induced an upgrade to the amp (Nac 92/ NAP 150 in my case) and eventually speakers as well. It does sound pretty amazing.

I don't go for the 'oxygen free cable laid along ley lines' nonsense, because that's just a load of balls. But there is indeed something about the whole tactile experience of vinyl that I love, far more than just pushing buttons.

I tend to find that, if I want to listen to something and indulge in the whole experience, I'll play it on vinyl. If want background noise when cooking, then it'll be streamed from the media server.

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Sky: We're no longer calling ourselves British. Yep. And Broadcasting can do one, too

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Pirate TV

Licence may not be quite the word, but BSB (the original one) was the holder of the officially awarded franchise for direct to home broadcasting in the UK. Sky was not, and so in that sense, could be considered a pirate - certainly, if someone were to do the same thing from a ship in the north sea, or from a tower block roof, they would be considered one.

Regulation was very different then, of course; I think this was even before the days of the original Television Without Frontiers directive, amongst other things.

While perhaps not a pirate in the traditional sense, he was operating stations outside the framework that had been laid down governing the allocation of frequencies for broadcasting to the home and the technologies to be used.

You might even draw an analogy with some of the 'disruptive' tech startups like Uber, in that like them, Sky decided the rules didn't apply, and just threw money at the problem until the incumbents had to surrender.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: In memoriam

Given how long that particular building has been disused, it's very unllikely to be anything other than a squarial, but if I can get a bit closer (there's finally hoarding up, and the possibility of building work) I shall see if I can spot any more marks on it.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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In memoriam

A rare sighting of a BSB Squarial in the wild (on the Clapton Cinematograph Theatre).

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U wot? Silicon Roundabout set to become Silicon U-BEND

Nigel Whitfield.
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Stepped access only?

Honestly, sometimes you have to wonder about TFL's level of commitment to accessibility. It's the 21st bloody century; it took a lot of nagging before it was confirmed that CrossRail would have step free access at all stations, and the last diagram of this shows that they're planning to rebuild some of the access subways with stepped access only.

That's bonkers; Perhaps they'll make up for it with a lift in the new entrance, but even so, if you want to get to one of the other roads, wouldn't step free access be a better idea - and not just for wheelchair users - rather than having to cross all the traffic at street level?

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Be Your Own Big Brother: Going to pot

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Nigel

Thanks; comments much appreciated.

There were a few other crowdfunded projects that I cam across when researching this piece, and some of them do seem to have a habit of going awfully quiet when the first flush of excitement is over. I hope the Edyn does bear fruit, but as you say, it's a case of wait and see.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Flawed Solutions & Superficial Analysis

Where we can, we get kit in - that's not always possible, and where we do, sometimes it's for a very short loan - I'm not sure that a single week with a plant monitor, for instance, would yield much useful information. So, I also try to talk with people who use some of the kit as well, who have played with it for a lot longer. Where possible, I do aim to get things in for longer so that we can do a full review of them later on (or, as in the case of the Netatmo, for instance, an earlier review informs a piece like this). I'm guessing from the tone of some of the replies, you'd prefer the latter way of doing things, and I'll bear that in mind when doing some of the next pieces.

One of the other things we hope to draw out in the comments on these pieces is exactly the sort of experience you talk about, because there are a huge number of Reg readers doing some of the things talked about here, and we'd love to hear more about your experiences.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Tamagochi in the real world

I'd rather like those for the foxes.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Indeed; I'd dearly love to have people lend us their kit for much longer, but sadly that's not very common these days. You will, obviously, find the BTLE in the Parrot kit has much better life than the WiFi used in the Koubachi, but the downside of that is also the need to have a device that supports BTLE to make use of it, and that rules out quite a lot of older phones.

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Forget 5G, UK.gov is making 2G fit for the 21st century!

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Underlying assumption

They also seem - and indeed boasted about this when building out networks in the past - to have focussed, at least initially, on motorway coverage, believing that the main users of the phones were travelling salesmen, with their Nokia 6310 clipped to the dash of the company Escort.

Whether it's a result of that, or just sheer laziness, I find that very often the coverage on trains is abominable. Travelling down to Winchester, I find huge chunks of the trip where it's impossible to get coverage, on both 3 and Orange, and the same is often true on other trips.

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Snapper's decisions: Whatever happened to REAL photography?

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: I'm a techno luddite

The PlusTek is a pretty decent it of kit - that's what a mate of mine uses for his - and they seem to be about the only people still making real film scanners as well. The main reason I went for a secondhand Canon FS-4000 instead was largely laziness, as the PlusTek is a manual advance, which the Canon can batch scan the whole tray of negs, so I can get on with other stuff and just put a new strip in from time to time.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Enjoyed this

@Cynic_999 - yes, it can be done with a little attention like that, and some of the newer C41 chemicals have a fair amount of leeway in them too.

I use a secondhand Jobo which I picked up on eBay before prices for them became completely ridiculous. And despite some of the dire warnings you can find about colour processes being absolutely temperature critical, a little bit either way doesn't seem to turn things into a disaster. It's generally only the first dev (in a 3 stage C41/E6) where you need to be as accurate as possible, in my experience. That said, I've never done the full six step E6.

At around 30 quid for an E6 pack that does a dozen films, it started to become more economical when RoyalMail jacked up their rates so much that the postage there and back for a roll of film now costs more than some of the professional labs will charge for the actual developing.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Enjoyed this

That's what I do; kitchen sink developing in a daylight tank for negatives and slides (you really need decent temperature control for colour, though). And a Canon FS-4000 film scanner. I normally scan at 2000dpi, which gives me roughly 5MP images; if I want to order a big print, I scan at 4000dpi instead.

And since I don't have space for a darkroom, or do prints often enough, I just order them online. Ilford Lab will do very good black and white photographic prints from uploaded files.

Besides SilverPrint, other good sources for film and supplies are First Call who have a range of colour chemicals in softpacks, which is great if you don't do it very often, and AG Photographic.

It's always worth shopping around - vendors seem to price the film wildly differently, and shipping varies a lot, too.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: My well-known gayness is 'a gift from GOD'

Nigel Whitfield.
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Hang on, I've got my voucher here... I'll just go check it.

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Making an entrance: Remote door-opening tech

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: I have a small metal key

Although I can access the flat with just a code number, I tend to rely on that mostly for things like when I've gone to the corner shop (or the pub at the end of the road), or if I'm expecting a visitor. For a longer absence, there's a mortice lock as well.

And on more than one occasion, I've been glad to find a key in my pocket - for example, when the power went out, and I went outside to see if it was just me, or the rest of the building, or the whole street. And realised once I got outside in the cold and wet that, with no power, I wouldn't be able to use the keypad...

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: @Nigel Whitfield

Yep. Even if you don't want to change your door locks, a lot of people don't realise that it's pretty straightforward to swap the cylinder for something a little (or a lot) more secure, like the Mul-T-Lock range.

Find a decent local locksmith and they can also do things like provide you with a standard front door cylinder and a euro-cylinder or oval for the back door, both using the same key, which I find a lot more convenient.

The CISA lock I mentioned earlier, btw, is the 11610 series. A much better option than the usual electric release, in my view. And it has a big red button that makes a gratifying "clunk" when you press it to exit.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Re-boot

Yes, in a lot of places the release is a weak point for sure. We have CISA locks which have a standard fixed striking plate and the magnet is in the lock itself, pulling it back to the open position, which is much sturdier.

And, of course, a good cylinder is important too. Ideally registered keys, not some cheap cylinder that can be opened in half a minute with a locksmith's tools.

For highest security, tuck make sure the relay is tucked away too, so you can't rip the panel off and jumper the lock. I've also seen code panels that reset to default to if a certain button was held during power up. So, if you can engineer a brown out...

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Want a more fuel efficient car? Then redesign it – here's how

Nigel Whitfield.
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Even simple maintenance helps

It's perhaps stating the obvious, but given the number of people you can see driving around with failing lights, and sagging tyres, worth stressing that just keeping on top of basic maintenance like the tyre pressure helps.

I drive a 1973 Citroën DS 23 EFI; it's just had a replacement radiator fitted, and while it was in, the points were adjusted. Before the most recent trip, I also noticed the rear tyres were about 6psi down.

That has made a pretty huge difference; on two comparable trips (long motorway drive, plus pottering round at the destination) I've gone from 20.4mpg to 26.5.

An awful lot of people would very likely get much better performance from their cars simply by doing some basic checks before their journey.

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Martha Lane Fox: YEUCH! The Internet is MADE by MEN?!?

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Utopian drivel

I didn't have any acceptable choices for MP at the last general election, so I didn't cast a vote for any of the candidates.

This is the unfortunate side effect of our voting system, and a position in which more and more people find themselves. It's also, perhaps partly to do with the way the media now reports on politics (largely very poorly, and in soundbites), and the increasing use of opinion polls.

All these factors have combined, so that we have now reached a situation where, unless you live in a marginal that a party things it may be able to win, you probably won't be treated to any significant campaigning visits, because as far as the incumbent party in that area is concerned, a pig with a rosette would still be elected.

Instead, Worcester Woman, Mondeo Man, and the lucky lucky residents of certain swing constituencies are treated to a parade of vacuous politicos, leaving a trail of soundbites behind them like incontinent labradors chasing a stick labelled "power"

And so, people become disengaged because the politicians believe that they don't matter, and their vote can be taken as read. Those whose opinions change, but find themselves living the in same place, eventually realise that there's either no one standing in their constituency who agrees with them (too red/blue for the greens to waste their small funds, for instance), or that even if there is, it's unlikely to make any difference, because of the voting system. People become even more disengaged, and the whole cycle gets worse and worse.

It's not helped by the view that "they're all the same" as the main parties strive to offer only tiny differences in their post Thatcher consensus, all the while talking up those tiny differences. One ray of hope is the turnout in Scotland, which showed that if people do believe it will make a difference, they will get out and do something.

Meanwhile, when I was in Sicily last summer, a huge crowd turned out in the town square in Modica, for a live debate between two Mayoral candidates. A couple of days later, a smaller but still impressive number stopped work and turned out to hear a speech by Matteo Renzi (then just Mayor of Florence, rather than PM) supporting one of the candidates, in the middle of the working day.

They may ultimately make some odd choices at the ballot box, but based on the experience I saw, the Italians are certainly rather more engaged than many people here; likely the centralised nature of the British state also has an impact on that.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Utopian drivel

Unless they're going to issue everyone of voting age with a basic internet connection and a device with which to vote, then there will still be a need to have polling stations, or public internet access if it's online only, for those who don't have a suitable method of voting with them.

And, I can't help feeling, some people would be perfectly happy with that - a situation where many people can vote at their convenience, but the most disadvantaged have to queue up at a polling station or a library to cast their vote.

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10 Top Tips For PRs Considering Whether To Phone The Register

Nigel Whitfield.
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"but what on earth do you do when you're at home?"

"We look at photographs of door to door salesmen while we pleasure ourselves"

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Scum of the earth

Despite my grumble in the first comment, I think that's unduly harsh. There are some excellent PR people, who take time to build relationships, without a hard sell, will dig around to point you in the right direction when you need to speak to a technical person, and understand the concept of deadlines.

When I first started in this business, there were probably quite a lot of those, and it would often be a joy to hear from them, as they would call when they had something genuinely useful to offer.

However, with the explosion of blogs and online media, there has been a resultant explosion in the number of 'PR' people and some seem to have very little training, beyond a home counties name, a posh accent and an Alice band in their hair (I generalise, but I'm sure many will know the type). PR is sometimes measured in terms of bums on seats, because the big boss doesn't want see any empty ones when he's talking about his latest gizmo, and since much is published online, a lot of people don't seem to grasp the concept of a hard deadline in the way that they used to.

Worse, some seem unable to grasp that "journalist" is a broad term, and we all have our specialities. I mentioned the oddly targeted products in my first post, but at least it was a gadget. Some of the Jessicas and Amandas seem to have bought a list of "journalist emails" and think that's all they need to to do get coverage. So, I'm not along amongst my colleagues in receiving utterly mystifying releases on topics ranging from double glazing to mexican food stores.

In the old days, when much was sent by post, of course there was a real cost, and perhaps that helped PR people ensure they send information to the best people. Sadly now, all too often, information is sent out indiscrimately and the money saved wasted on stupid follow-up calls and emails that wouldn't be so necessary if information was properly targeted.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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The annoying habit some people have of quoting London codes as 0208 and so forth results in a huge number of wrong calls to my number, which begins with 8880; there's a branch of Pizza Hut that has a number which, if you put an extra 8 at the start, because you're a dimwit who thinks the code is 0208 instead of 020, will give you my number. People leave orders for pizzas on my voicemail.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Your mother—and mine

Rather than asking to "speak to" someone, I much prefer to ask if I can speak with them, which simply sounds rather more like a conversation.

Of course, in the case of some pitches, the correct term would very likely be "could I talk at someone?"

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Number seven

I answer the business line with my name, if I can't see who's calling, or with an appropriate apellation if I know who the other party is.

It is, therefore, particularly irksome when, having picked up the phone and said my name, people then enquire if they are indeed speaking to Nigel Whitfield. I have, on occasion, testily reminded them that the clue was in the way I said my name when I answered the phone.

If it's a call on the ex-directory number, or the published home number that has somehow made it past the voicemail prompts, I'm afraid I tend to be less polite and any queries as to my identity are met with a brusque "Who are you and what do you want?"

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Another annoyance ...

A mere 32 hours after sending me an offer to review a product of a type I've never written about in the last quarter century, the PR sent the same email again, with a comment at the top that "I just wanted to float this to the top of your inbox. "

My gut response - and only a thin shred of decency stopped me from saying so by return email - was "ah, like a turd that won't flush"

If you send an email, and it doesn't bounce, chances are I got it. If I didn't reply, I'm either not interested, or on holiday.

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Be Your Own Big Brother: Peeking at pussy

Nigel Whitfield.
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A little too late to try that trick for mine; the cat flap was here from previous generations when I acquired Cagney and Lacey.

They have brought me stolen balls, big wet leaves, and feathers, all of which are pretty much ok. But it's the frogs... even the tiny ones can be carried carefully in the mouth, to ensure maximum squeaky hoppy fun when they're lovingly deposited indoors and poked.

Some nights, I have to find something to wear in the middle of the night so that I can go outside and put a frog back in the pond three times.

I have pondered, though, not putting anything on, and arranging tea lights in the form of a pentagram outside, just to see what the neighbours say if they look out of the window at 3am and see me standing in it, holding a frog in my hands.

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ROBOT TROUSER SNAKE stiffens to master slippery mounds

Nigel Whitfield.
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Almost there ...

Surely, after this, it can't be too long before they miniaturise the tech and we can have robotic self tying boot laces

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HEVC patent prices are out. Look who's NOT at the codec party: Microsoft and Google

Nigel Whitfield.
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Pint

@Charles 9 (so excited by looking at the clock, I didn't reply properly...)

Well, all the broadcasters and their roadmaps at IBC involve HEVC. There is equipment available for them that can handle it, and the amount of that will increase quite substantially over the coming years. TV makers are already rolling out HEVC kit (yes, of variable quality in some cases), but it's coming.

So, I don't think there's much doubt that the broadcast world will be going HEVC, and that means that lots of TVs will be having it built in, and set top boxes.

Even if VP9 is free, and in Android devices, that's still a lot of devices it's not necessarily in - and unless Google not only mandates VP9 but also forbids HEVC, I can't see that it's going to make much difference. The change in terms compared to H.264 also make HEVC a little more attractive.

For the next couple of years, at any rate, this is largely an academic issue; there isn't a huge amount of 4K content, and virtually every device out there supports H.264. By the time there is more 4K content - which is after all the main driver for this, certainly in the OTT market, as no one's going to rush to replace set top boxes for non-subscription services - there will, of course, be a smattering of devices with Android and VP9 built in. But there will also be a lot more stuff with HEVC built in, both on the production and the consumption sides.

Honestly, I don't see that Google are going to enjoy any noticeably greater success with VP9 than they did with its predecessor.

(Icon because it's Friday, it's five to five and it's Craaaackerjack! Or, at any rate, time to go to the pub, which is where I'll be if you have a burning desire to continue talking about this right now)

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Dear Faultline

Google will have some content encoded with VP9, but will lots of other people? Broadcasters and the like are going for HEVC, just as with HD they went for H.264. And, notwithstanding the huge amounts of stuff on YouTube and that Google will want to sell people via Play Movies, there's likely to be a massive adoption of HEVC.

I suppose it's entirely possible that a few people will decide that when they're encoding for online/mobile, they'll use VP9 rather than just run things through the HEVC encoders that they will probably already have, but I don't think it's terribly likely.

So, VP9 ignored in a story that was about HEVC? Yep; just like it'll probably be ignored in most of the devices that have HEVC too.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Just how much better is HEVC

"Freeview, Freesat and Sky should all end-of-life MPEG-2 broadcasts."

It's obviously less of an urgent issue for the satellite services, and perhaps they'll be able to hold off long enough to see both HEVC and DVB-S2X introduced as a 'great leap forward' much as Freeview originally went from T/MPEG2 to T2/H264 in one go.

Certainly, as I've said before, there will be a second changeover, and that's one reason for the temporary muxes we have at the moment, to encourage takeup of HD-capable equipment, which will be much more efficient for SD.

The one aspect that just doesn't appear to have been sorted out is when to tell the public, so that they will stop buying kit that doesn't support T2/H264. To switch to broadcast HEVC in the UK would mean obsoleting a lot of kit bought pretty recently for HD, and so is unlikely in my view. HEVC in the short to medium term will be something for OTT delivery here.

On satellite, it may be something the likes of Sky will consider, but they'll want there to be more standards (and maybe even wait for UHD Phase 2 specs to be firmed up) before they think about swapping out people's set top boxes. Freesat is in an awkward position here; they might mandate new boxes include it, some way down the line, but because people pay for their own kit, they probably won't actually want too many channels to switch to HEVC, as that will lessen the attractiveness of their service to people who bought into it because of the 'no subscription' aspect and don't want to have to upgrade.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Just how much better is HEVC

It can provide much better compression; for a comparison in the UK, we use a DVB-T2 mux for HD broadcasts, with a capacity somewhere around 40Mbits/sec, based on using external aerials. This currently allows for five channels (BBC 1, BBC 2, ITV, C4, BBC 3) in HD using the H.264 codec.

In Germany, they are proposing using T2 with HEVC, configured for reception using indoor aerials. That lowers the carrying capacity of the mux somewhat, but the plan nevertheless is for 6-7 HD streams in a mux running at round 24Mbits/sec.

So, it is a pretty impressive achievement - and could certainly solve some of the bandwidth squeeze facing Freeview, if there were enough receivers that supported it.

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Proprietary OS source code LEAKED to web – from 40 years ago

Nigel Whitfield.
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Fond memories - and hangovers

One of the first computers I used, and on which I learned to do many things, was an RML 380Z, with CP/M 1.4B, and I've played with systems running CP/M86 as well as MP/M later on. Happy days.

And, though the OS itself may be mostly forgotten, it's left us with at least one enduring legacy - those 8.3 file names, and the horrible kludges still found to allow long file names to coexist with them, even in modern kit.

No, it may not have been the first OS to use such a naming convention, but in maintaining compatibility with that that aspect of CP/M in MS-DOS, it's surely endured far longer than it would have done.

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