* Posts by Nigel Whitfield.

734 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

Page:

Coral Reefs: Secret Cities of the Sea exhibition – life beneath the waves

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Spoon feeding or research?

Well, yes, that is a point - but I think that this sort of thing can be done in different ways. For example, at the Science Museum's new gallery, which I wrote about a few months back, there are interactive displays that allow you to either look at the quick summary, or to read a bit deeper into the background. I'd like to see more of that, ideally with options for both kids and adults.

If interactive displays can't be provided, because of cost, since most of us do have a portable device when we're visiting, it wouldn't be too hard to provide short URLs or QR codes either - again, with a little work, you could have multiple ones, for different key stages, experts, and so on.

It certainly is hard to pitch information at a level that will please everyone, but it seems to me that one of the great advantages of modern technology is that you can provide alternatives, even if it's only a few links to further reading, without too much effort.

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Well, yes, indeed. That is a problem. But, for example, while the big aquarium at the end is beautiful and has lots of colour in it, perhaps some smaller tanks with samples of the fish being talked about, or more colourful pictures alongside some of the samples might have helped. Even a small video screen, showing clips of those fish in the wild would be an improvement.

Obviously, you don't want them to go killing fresh ones and putting them in jars; but a pale old sample in a jar of preservative doesn't really get across the beauty of some of these things. A little something extra would perk it up no end - I can imagine some kids, for example, being singularly unimpressed at dead things in jars, whereas they might light up more at a video screen where they can see "Nemo"

That, in my view, would lift the exhibition somewhat, and could be done without spoiling the 'reveal' of the aquarium at the end of the room.

0
0

Mono Magic: Photography, Breaking Bad style

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Bah!

Yes, that sort of thing can be a problem - but as I mentioned, you can also use some phones as a meter too, which can solve some of those problems.

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

I'm not arguing that it's better than digital at all. It's different and, yes, romantic to an extent, I suppose. Or some people may just love messing around with chemicals. As other commenters have mentioned, the limitations may encourage people to think more about those such as selection and framing than they do when they can fire off loads of shots in an instant. Of course you can think about those with digital too, but perhaps film gives you a nudge in that direction.

Ultimately, I hope the various links and bits of info in the article might inspire some people to give it a go; it really is a lot cheaper, and a lot simpler, than many people imagine to process your own film.

Or even if you just buy a single roll of a cheap film like APX100 and send it off to develop and print, you'll have spent around the same as four pints of beer, and who knows, you might decide you like it enough to experiment some more. If you've got an old camera in a cupboard, buy a roll of film, take it on holiday alongside your digital, and save it for that moment when you go "wow", and then see how you feel when the prints drop through the letterbox.

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Ken Rockwell laughing stock.

Indeed, he's not loved by all (I'm sure I'm not, either), however I didn't suggest that site for photographic advice, but for info to help compare some of the older secondhand kit, and I do think that - notwithstanding that it's personal opinion - the info there will help people work out a bit more about things like which secondhand film kit on eBay will be a good idea, and which won't.

1
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: That old red dot..

Rollei still sells a range of IR film (manufactured by Agfa), and there's also an Ilford IR film too

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: It is techno-Luddism

Is it Luddism to want to have that sense of achievement from doing the whole job yourself, taking the photos, and processing them? Others have alluded to the 'magical' feeling of seeing prints appear as you develop them.

Picking the film you want to use, deciding on how you'll develop it, doing the processing - these are all things from which people derive pleasure, and end up with something that they feel is all their own work.

I think that makes the whole process pretty rewarding, and that's a perfectly good reason for doing it. Just as some people enjoy cooking, when you can get a perfectly good ready meal, or building their own bookshelves instead of going to Heal's (or IKEA).

And, though the decent DSLRs are cheaper now, I've still probably not spent as much as I would have had to to buy a Nikon DSLR that would be be fully compatible with my old lenses. Yes, I could pick up a digital compact, or CSC, but this way I don't have perfectly usable kit just sitting gathering dust.

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Well, it's a hobby

I won't dispute that it can take time, but I do think it can be a lot cheaper to develop film than people think, and if you shop well the rolls of film are relatively inexpensive too

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: pinhole cameras are fun

Do! It was a proper holiday that inspired me to get back into film some years back.

I'd been in Köln, and seen so many people in the cathedral just experiencing it through a three inch screen instead of actually looking. So when I set off for Sicily by train, I took the FG20 with me, and came back with some great shots.

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Dust to (bloody) dust.

The kitty pic also suffers from the film - Adox CHS100 - which is quite prone to spotting, I find, and even more than usual with the caffeine developer

0
0

Millions of voters are missing: It’s another #GovtDigiShambles

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: It worked for me, but not well

I registered well in advance, and heard nothing at all. So on Voter Registration Day, whenever that was, I filled in the online form again.

According to the letter from the council, I'm now registered twice, once with the initials of all my names, and once with the last one missing. Given that I entered the same NI number, I don't quite understand why they couldn't de-dupe something like that very easily.

5
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: No doubt...

And in that regard, very much a re-run of 1992.

Although the poll tax was officially called the "Community Charge" I think it very much suited the then administration for it to be so widely called by a name that, implicitly, linked payment to voting.

I was most annoyed to find in 1992 that I wasn't able to vote, because the landlord of the house in which I rented a room had unilaterally taken it upon himself to decide, when the form arrived, addressed to him, that we probably wouldn't want to have to pay the tax, so he didn't put our names down on the form.

In the office where I worked then, 5 out of 7 people were not registered, largely because of concern about the poll tax, either on their part or as in my case that of "well meaning" other people.

Certainly in 1992, I think it's a fair assumption that many of those who were against the community charge would have been less likely to vote for the incumbent administration. It would be interesting to know how many people did disappear from the electoral rolls, compared to before the introduction of the charge.

It may, of course, be cock up rather than conspiracy. But to for the same party to "lose" so many people from the registers when an election is considered by all to be very close not once, but twice, will certainly raise some eyebrows.

9
6

OK, they're not ROBOT BUTLERS, but Internet of Home 'Things' are getting smarter

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: The big problem (and risk) is connectivity

Murder by IoT:

Sneak into someone's house, perhaps via a flaw in their connected lock. Put very heat sensitive compounds close to their dryer and/or oven. Sneak out, wait until they're asleep (and you're safely alibied) and then crank the oven up to full, the dryer on max, and wait for the chemicals to catch fire. I guess after turning the appliances on, for good measure, you could launch a DDoS on their smoke detector, to knock that out of action.

1
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: This is just stupid

Having invented the 'smart fridge' it seems some companies just won't give up on the blasted thing. I suppose having a camera so you can see what's inside is almost an admission that earlier iterations screwed up, because the idea of having to scan everything in and out of your fridge, and thus only ever buying things that had compatible bar codes or RFID tags was clearly bonkers.

At least with a camera you can buy what the hell you like, and not worry if it's incompatible with the fridge. But still, meh...

3
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Cheaper power

We keep hearing of these appliances being able to start when the price of electricity is cheaper. But, other than the old 'Economy 7' fixed times, is that really going to come with the roll-out of smart meters?

It essentially means the electricity companies will be publishing, minute by minute, a spot price for their electricity, in response to demand. So far, however, we've seen that they don't even manage to reduce the price for consumers month by month when their own costs fall; forgive me if I'm sceptical about their desire to pass on lower prices.

And, will they pass spot prices, or will they be able to say "low price window for 2 hours" ? What if, for example, there's not a long enough window at a low price for the wash cycle? Does the machine start anyway, and damn the expense at the end (just when, perhaps, it might be doing the drying)? Or does it say "Best wait until there's enough time to do the whole thing cheaply", and leave you to open the door on a load of stinking socks when you were expecting something clean to wear to work?

6
0

How many Androids does it take to change a light bulb?

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: the dreaded dingy CFL

Certainly, some of the older/cheaper LED bulbs have been pretty dingy too. The most recent ones I've bought, however, do definitely exceed the brightness of the GU10 halogens that they replaced, likewise the ones I'm using for the fittings are better than the daylight tinted tungstens.

But, I got them from a specialist online, rather than the local DIY store.

3
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Clueless

That, interestingly, looks identical to the old 12volt track I have sitting discarded in my office, which was part of an IKEA lighting system.

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Uh-oh

Even if people don't go for the app controlled bulbs, you can probably still expect a few moans when they decide to save money replacing bulbs with LEDs, and then wonder why their dimmer switch doesn't work properly any more.

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: IoT? WoT?

I suppose, with a name like Montague, you simply ask your manservant to dim the lights for you when you need to impress friends at parties.

3
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Clueless

Well, I suppose the key thing is that you're not going to want the track to melt and drip in someone's hair. So, I would have thought that as long as you get the loads roughly equivalent, you should be ok.

For example - exact values will vary by bulb - but a 60W spot on a 240V track is going to draw 0.25 amps. And you can get a 400 Lumen 12v LED spot that's roughly 50W equivalent and draws 6W, which is 0.5 amps. Just make sure you're not drawing more current than the track is rated for.

Alternative may be simply to get the 240V LED bulbs, of which there's a pretty good range these days.

5
1
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Uh-oh

Quite probably. And, of course, it's not just lights, but other things as well - there's a fair range of stuff in the WeMo range, for example, and you'll have the same problems with Lollipop whatever is it you're trying to connect, at least until they update the app.

But in the case of lightbulbs, I suspect there are going to be a lot more people who "just expect it to work"

2
1

Telly behemoths: Does size matter?

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Hiding your TV in the cabinet...

I did cross my mind that there may be a profitable trade to be had in convincing little old ladies to let you take that old telly with doors off their hands for a few quid, then swap the insides for a modern LCD, and flog the result to retro-loving hipsters.

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

I was thinking perhaps one of these classic "Ultra" sets

http://www.golden-agetv.co.uk/img/equipment/283b.JPG

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Old 1990s class joke....

That reminds me of KY TV, the telly spin-off from RadioActive

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWtPEXfQki0

3
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge
Joke

Re: are you sure ?

maybe you know a lot of vulgar people?

16
2
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Sony

Indeed; it would only really have worked if the interconnects were standard, but I'm pretty sure they weren't.

Given things like AV amps to handle source switching and audio, plus receivers for satellite or terrestrial, and fairly decent compatibility via HDMI, we are almost there, I guess. It's just that the makers of the screens insist on putting all the 'smart' stuff in the TV, when really it could pretty much all be done via a Chromecast or Roku, which can be replaced for far less when it finally runs out of oomph.

Indeed, if people do want to call up some of this stuff while watching TV, given the upscaling and other processing a modern AV amp can do, it's a shame none of them has an HDMI input designated as 'Smart stuff' that allows it to be overlaid on what you're watching in some way.

2
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

And fancy things like decent remote controls. I remember some of the first that had just the two buttons - volume and channel, guaranteed to deafen people before you could properly turn it down. Not to mention annoy the pets, because it was ultrasonic.

Our Rediffusion rental set had all the buttons; I can't remember if it was IR or ultrasonic. I do recall that the remote off made the power switch on the set pop out with a satisfying click. You could only turn it off by remote, not on.

1
0

Who uses the Universal Credit system? ALMOST NOBODY, says report

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Benefits of benefits

And one of the ways in which it can take away jobs - especially at the very low end of the market - is by demanding that people do some of those jobs (stacking shelves, working in care homes) as 'work experience' or 'voluntary community work' in return for a level of benefits that is not even equivalent to the minimum wage.

Why should a charitiy or company employee someone on minimum wage when the job centre will just send them a serf?

9
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: I struggle to know how seriously to take this...

Well, yes, a planned rollout is a good idea.

However, what they're rolling out, even at this pretty late stage, is still only the phase of the project for single people, which is about the simplest possible case for the system to cope with.

It's still miles off being able to cope with complex benefit claims - and it's surely those that are the most likely area where it might - just might - be able to save some money.

So, the small number of people to whom it's being rolled out now is really more a reflection of the fact that they have only just about got it to work for one simple use case, rather than anything else.

12
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

The best plan ...

... is probably for an incoming government to scrap this stupid waste of money. And to make IDS personally liable for the bill.

23
0

'Utterly unusable' MS Word dumped by SciFi author Charles Stross

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Word Perfect

For quite some time when I first went freelance (20 years ago this spring) I did all my writing using WordPerfect 5.1 for Unix. Mostly on a Wyse 50 terminal that I had on the kitchen table, because it had a great keyboard.

1
0

Leaky battery attack reveals the paths you walk in life

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

In some businesses, people may have to install an app that's been developed in house, for instance. And since an app using this technique doesn't throw up any alerts about permissions, some companies might well think they could do this.

Remember that in some situations, knowing that someone isn't where they are supposed to be could be just as useful as knowing where they are. A company with people who work in the field might well find this sort of technique handy for knowing whether or not their reps are where they're supposed to be, or if they're spending rather too long at lunch, instead.

Bung a library that does this into an app that provides a corporate manual, brochure or something like that, and you have a tracking system on employees' phones, without them being any the wiser.

4
1

Euro broadcast industry still in a fug over that 4K-ing UHD telly

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: “the most significant advance since colour”

To be fair, when industry people talk about UHD, they generally are meaning more than just pixels, and the roadmap from groups like the DVB for future phases of UHD is very much about things such as increased frame rate, wider colour gamut and high dynamic range.

And, having seen all of those things side by side back at IBC then I certainly wouldn't claim it as a stupid statement. Combining these technologies really does provide a startling improvement in picture quality, compared to the leap up to HD.

Of course, most of those demos at IBC are carefully controlled, and very few of them are actually on your typical broadcaster's stream that's been compressed to buggery in order to maximise shareholder value, so whether what we'll eventually see in our homes for UHD Phase 2/3 is anywhere near as good is certainly up for debate.

But UHD is not just about 4K. If it's done properly, it is about all those other aspects too. The fact that they are not all fully standardised yet is, in my view, a good argument for not buying a 4K screen just yet. Wait until you know that both screen and connectivity have been adequately specced for the finalised UHD standards. To do otherwise may be a little like buying an early 'HD' TV that turns out to have a weird resolution, no H.264 decoder, and only a DVI connector on the back.

2
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Ultra HD?

You're unlikely to get the original english soundtrack, I'm afraid. A lot of german channels have historically been broadcast in the clear on satellite. And, unlike the UK, where we have restricted beams that are supposed to minimise overspill, that's not generally the case.

Certainly last time I tried it, you could point a dish at 19.2 from the UK and get all sorts of European stuff, broadcast in the clear, including dubbed versions of US shows.

And while that's possible, you're very unlikely to get the english soundtrack - it would make those broadcasts appealing to many, many more people across the continent. A German broadcaster can buy, say, CSI, dubbed in to German and will pay less for that right than if they were - effectively - broadcasting the original version on a pan-european beam.

If, say, the Czechs were able to watch a German broadcast, and simply select the English soundtrack, then their broadcasters would feel less need to license the same show, dubbed into their own language. And heaven forbid the makers should miss out on some of their cash!

2
1

Be your own Big Brother: Covert home spy gadgetry

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: What's even creepier than the song

Well spotted!

I do like a man who knows his musical theatre :)

1
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: "You want to be with your loved one every moment, or at the very least know what they're up to."

Well, indeed; with the piece coming out around Valentine's day, the lurve angle seemed like a good way to get into the subject, but as I pointed out at the end, communication is rather better for your relationship than gadgetry.

And, that's also why we included a mention of some simple countermeasures, too. Possessive behaviour's not cool kids. Please don't try it at home.

0
0

Virgin Media to splurge BEELLIONS on UK network infrastructure expansion

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

So far ...

... all the reports of this that I've read have talked about how they're expanding the cable network, bringing them within reach of extra homes (maybe they'll decide they can afford the 20 foot of cable from my front garden into the house now...).

However, none of them has mentioned any corresponding investment in the core network. It would be good to assume that that will naturally follow, but I'm not sure we live in such an ideal world as that.

Are they really more interested in getting more people to pay for the cable TV services, and the fact that they'll be linked to the network for internet happens to be a handy side-effect for which they can garner much publicity?

I'd have been more impressed if there was detailed information eg "80% of investment on network expansion, and 20% on core upgrades"

3
1

Vint Cerf: Everything we do will be ERASED! You can't even find last 2 times I said this

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

As soon as I get home ...

I shall preserve the email backups from my QIC tapes by printing everything out on the thermal printer and putting it in a big folder

0
0

CAR? Check. DRIVER? Nope. OK, let's go, says British govt

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Welcome back to el reg, Claire Perry!

I'm sure before too long, Ms Perry will turn her ample intellect to the child protection aspects of driverless cars. She'll likely conclude that there are certain addresses that will have to be filtered out of the destinations lists, just in case visiting them leads to people being corrupted.

2
0

Ofcom can prise my telly spectrum from my COLD, DEAD... er, aerial

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Commercial reality suggests...

The TV spectrum they have their eyes on extends down to the 700MHz area too; and while these lower frequencies will make it easier to cover large areas than chunks in the 2GHz+ spectrum, there's a good reason why, for example, Three started to build out their network at the higher frequencies - speed.

At 700MHz, you can cover more of the country (though experience suggests there will still be not-spots), but the speeds won't be so great. As you say, what's the point?

(Other than a "thin end of the wedge", a foot in the door to grab as much space as they can, in the hopes it can be monetised later, once DTT has been kicked to the kerb)

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: 16:9

Quite, Vic. I don't think I saw a single display in any wider ratio at IBC; I'm pretty certain that if there was a move to anything else in broadcast, it would have been all over the place, or perhaps mentioned in the press materials from the likes of DVB. They're busy roadmapping 4K, after all, with plenty of talk about wider gamut, higher refresh rates, codecs, and so on. I can't believe a change in aspect ratio just slipped everyone's mind.

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Broadcast is efficient

There are various mechanisms to cope with that. The most prevalent is probably to have a quad lnb in which one of the four parts is set to each of the possible options (High/Low, Vertical/Horizontal). That connects to a distribution system, and each apartment has however many connections it requires (usually, two per recorder, one for a standard receiver). The receivers act as normal, and the think they're talking to a standard LNB, sending the appropriate signals for the options required. The distribution system intercepts those, and connects that cable to the appropriate signal.

An alternative is called Unicable, which is a single cable distribution system, which allows all the signals to go across a single cable, to multiple recievers. It requires a Unicable LNB and support in the receivers too. And the one time I tried playing with a bit of kit that was supposed to support it, I had no end of trouble. To be fair, that was in 2008, in the very early days of Unicable. But it doesn't seem to have taken off, from what I can see

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: "Broadcast is efficient"

Those lines overlaid on the graph are based on average amount of viewing per day. Even if those programmes are timeshifted, the data still has to be shifted to people to enable them to watch it.

And the projections of how much mobile data will grow don't seem to show it being able to manage that for quite some time, even on the most optimistic projections.

So, surely that does make DTT pretty efficient; it's also in place now, which makes it a better bet than telling people "Oh, never mind, replace your kit with a satellite box" - and I'm sure it won't be too long before someone else says "Hey! Why don't we interleave wireless data amongst the satellite downlink frequencies" as well.

There's an existing, efficient infrastructure that can deliver a massive amount of programme data to people, using the equipment they already have in their homes. In some cases, that equipment is only a few years old.

Aside from anything else, telling people "hey, we're going to switch that off really soon now" isn't really going to help mass take-up of other new technologies in future.

And doing it so that we end up paying mobile networks monthly fees, and they pay Qualcomm huge royalties, just so that we can continue to receive what we currently pluck of of the ether for nothing?

I'd prefer to see the mobile networks actually use the space they have first, then perhaps they can have some of the unused chunks the military don't use. There isn't, as far as I can see, any pressing technical need for them to mess up the space used by DTT. There may be a commercial imperative (for them), but that's a different matter.

10
1

Hey kids! If you vote Facebook will give you EXTRA LIKES*

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Behavioural targetting

Facebook's got form for manipulating feeds to see how it affects people's moves; some reports on this explain how they have tried things like different placements, or even hiding the "I'm voting" button in the past, to see how it affects response.

So, while I think anything that gets people to register is broadly a good thing, I think a clear an unambiguous statement that all people who are determined to be in the UK will receive the same notifications would be helpful.

Given the information that the company gathers about its users, it can quite easily determine which political things they may have liked, or engaged with, including those elsewhere. It would be entirely possible, and staggeringly inappropriate, if reminders to register, or to vote, were selectively shown to people.

You could imagine - I'm not suggesting they would do this, but it's technically possible - that a company in such a position might choose or be pressured to use this ability to show reminders more often to people who, say, have never clicked "Like" or shared stories about corporate tax issues, or various other policies.

So, yes, getting people to register (and to vote), a good idea in principle. But with some reservations.

3
0

Bluetooth-enabled miracle washing orbs? Are you kidding?

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Crystals

Sounds like they heard Karen Carpenter singing "in your mind you have capacities you know" and thought "you know, she's got a point there"

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Blimey!

Don't worry. I'm sure they'll be able to launch a "Laundry hub" that plugs in near your washing machine and bridges the magic ball Bluetooth connection to the wifi. Or perhaps they'll be able to do a deal with appliance manufacturers for 'smart' washing machines that have Bluetooth built in an ethernet connection on the back...

<hides, whimpering, in corner>

0
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Re: Blimey!

Quite. Mine just turns off and I can hear the click of the door unlocking. Honestly, if I was far enough away that I needed a notification on my phone, the last thing on my mind would be rushing back home to dick about with laundry.

3
0
Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Blimey!

My favourite bit of the video is the bloke uttering "This could change the way people do laundry" with a straight face.

And, honestly, I'm not sure I could cope with the awesomeness of a notification when the laundry is done. I think if I ever felt awe at any aspect of housework, I'd need a lie down.

3
0

Dixons Carphone clings to EE, Three in Phones 4U bullet dodge

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Oh goody

How long before we see a £100 HDMI cable that needs a SIM to ensure it can "optimise" picture quality?

2
1

'Boutique' ISPs: Snub the Big 4 AND get great service

Nigel Whitfield.
Bronze badge

Plusnet is what I have for my own mother's connection, which I took out when they still listed their low usage 10GB package at 5.99 a month. It's crept up over the years to 7.99, but for the few emails she sends, that's adequate.

However, since they're a BT-owned company, and not quite as small as they once were, they probably don't fall into the 'boutique' category anymore. But I suppose that's as good a way as any to illustrate that while these more customised outfits may be ideal for reg readers, if you just want a basic connection, sometimes using one of the big outfits may be a better choice.

0
0

Page:

Forums