382 posts • joined Friday 12th June 2009 19:40 GMT
I'm a great fan of the Matias Tactile Pro; I have version 3, but the key switches are the same ALPS ones as in the latest (and in some of the classic Mac keyboards). I had the original one too, and wore it out after several years. Not that cheap - £100 - but well worth if if you really do spend a lot of time writing. It says 'For Mac' but it's USB, and works just fine for Windows. For Mac users, though, it's even more useful as all the odd symbols are on the keycaps too, which saves remembering them.
Re: Access to the internet
@Corinne Not to mention, of course, that in many places libraries are being closed down, or having their hours cut, in an attempt to make savings.
The government will of course point to ideas like those espoused by Martha Lane-Fox, with £10 a month internet connections and £100 PCs, seemingly oblivious to the fact that for some people that's still a pretty substantial chunk of cash (and a £10 a month internet connection will very likely require a phone line costing at least that again, too).
Of course, there will be those who say "but if they can afford beer/fags/satellite TV they can get a computer and an internet connection" and perhaps that's true to an extent. But it also reveals a mindset that says "if you're poor, you must spend your money how we tell you, not how you want to."
And ultimately, what this really does is direct the poor to spend their lives and their money in a certain way, in order that the treasury can save a bit of money to bribe the middle with tax cuts in time for the next election.
Re: Not to worry
Surely a zombie would count as non-domiciled? And hence pay the square root of bugger all in UK tax
Re: Useless really
They don't strip it off every SIP call; my calls from home go via a Gamma Telecom SIP trunk, and people I ring on BT lines do get my caller ID; I'm pretty sure they also get the ID when I ring via the backup SipGate account too.
So it's not a blanket thing stripping at all.
TPS are useless. So are Verizon UK
I used to have an ISDN2 line, with a block of ten numbers; I ported those all to VoIP a few years back. But having ten sequential numbers, it's very obvious when a robo-dialler is attacking me. Call comes in on the business line first, silent. A short time later, on the ex directory line, silent, and then usually by the time it rings on the 'public' number there's someone there (and doubtless, the unused numbers in the gaps have been pestered too).
All the numbers that ring are TPS registered; the vermin don't care, and lie when you ask them for their company name or address.
A huge number (by which I mean almost all) of the UK caller IDs that are presented to my VoIP system turn out to have been allocated to Verizon UK. So as far as I'm concerned, they're facilitating law breakers, and are just as guilty. Perhaps if the phone companies themselves were fined, they'd make sure their customers behaved.
Meanwhile, since everything is routed through 3CX, I have varying degrees of filtering. All incoming numbers are checked against a list of the common cold calling numbers, which are routed directly to a message reminding them they're calling a TPS registered line and breaking the law.
Anonymous or unknown numbers go directly to voicemail.
On the public number, an automated response tells people what number to press to speak to me, and warns them I'm not interested in sales and surveys, and will be very rude to them if they do press it.
On the ex directory number, numbers for the more bewildered members of the family are whitelisted, while everyone else has to answer a maths question; press the right numbers and the call is connected.
It works pretty well; but the fact that anyone has to go to these lengths to avoid harassment - seven cold calls in 10 minutes one day - shows just how feeble the TPS is; hardly surprising considering it's an offshoot of the Direct Marketing Association.
Mandatory caller ID plus fines for both companies and the telcos that enable them, and in extremis the death penalty and confiscation of assets might finally stop these people.
Re: The two channels should be, since we're paying for them
Not quite sure in what sense you think you're paying for those (rather than any other channel with ads on), as neither channel is licence fee funded. But with a bit of luck, Film4 HD might be a possibility, were the joint BBC/C4/Arqiva proposal to be picked. Though knowing our luck, they'd do HD versions of More 4 and E4 instead.
There's already at least one proposal for broadcast use of the space, from the BBC, Channel 4 and Arquiva, which would most likely see an additional BBC channel, plus the red button, and perhaps two additional channels from the C4 stable getting HD simulcasts.
The aim, of course, is to get more people to buy kit capable of receiving DVB-T2/H.264, which will enable a later wholesale shift of Freeview to those technologies, which some think is essential to maintaining a Freeview service as the bandwidth available contracts.
So, to a large degree, I think this is a stalking horse, as I explained in a post of my own yesterday
"Fortunately Citroen aren't in the aviation business."
Not now, but they did make a helicopter: http://ranwhenparked.net/2012/08/13/a-look-at-the-citroen-re-2-a-wankel-powered-helicopter-video/
Leaks can be a bit of a nuisance with the hydraulic systems; I had a somewhat startling moment in my CX GTi Turbo, when I realised the steering was a bit heavy (ie, barely functional; a Diravi with no hydraulic assist is hard to shift). So I applied the brakes, only to realise that they weren't working either, and all I could do was use the gears and the handbrake to slow down and hope that I coasted to a stop before I hit anything.
Fortunately, I stopped a few feet short of a parked van.
On a hydraulic Citroen (certainly CX and DS, which I stilll have), there is no mechanical link to the brakes; if the hydraulics fail, you need to hope for the best.
Re: Now TV
Hopefully, there may be some figures for NOW TV issued as part of Sky's results, which are due out next week - they weren't willing to share anything in advance of that.
No, those are the UK figures - those for the US (obtained via the Netflix API) are 9154 films and 4989 TV seasons. UK figures are from the Oric website - there isn't a UK API at the moment - based on their own research.
Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?
Yes, that's the way these round-ups are usually done, because otherwise you end up with two different scores for the same product, which gets rather confusing.
Some of the elements of the score include, for instance, value for money, but that could change each time a new product is launched in the same market - the Nexus 4 makes some of the other androids look less good value.
All you can treat a score as is an evaluation at the time it was reviewed; a phone that got 95% three years ago isn't necessarily better than an iPhone 5 with 90% this year.
Re: Lovely advert by Reg for Apple.
Really? Two paras at the end - one of which pointed out a UX failure on Apple's part - and a mention of how iPlayer is mostly used early on, and the article's an advert for Apple?
Somehow, I think your own bias is showing there.
Honestly, not everything is about Apple.
Re: Cheap netbook connected to the TV via HDMI/VGA w/ wireless keyboard is far superior IMHO!
The problem is that, while that may be a solution for many Reg readers, it's probably not the best solution for their friends and relatives, who do need something that's simple, straightforward, and isn't going to require you connecting via VLC to handle a Windows update from time to time, or the occassional reboot, or whatever other administrative things we take in our stride, but most people simply don't want.
I know people who, when they can't figure out why there's no sound (and it's usually something like a partially disconnected SCART, or volume set wrong/muted on one of the devices) will simply decide to turn the TV off and read a book, rather than fiddle round, in the hope that the next day it'll have magically solved itself.
And those, I think, represent a far greater number than the people who will be happy with a netbook and a qwerty keyboard in the living. It's those people whom the makers of TV sets should be thinking about, and figuring out how they can do this clever stuff without making it even more likely that people will just give up and think "there's nothing on, may as well cut the grass"
Re: You missed half of the UI
We could probably do another whole article about the remotes; the weird choices between shiny metal look membranes, or real buttons, some of which click, others which just wobble.
Odd concentric circles of buttons, which almost guarantee that half the time you're trying to move to an option, you accidentally press the outer circle instead, and back right out to live TV, or launch something completely different.
Remotes that have icons that mean absolutely nothing - I was on the second Toshiba set of a recent batch before I realised there actually was a dedicated "Toshiba Places" button on the remote, because it just looked like, well, an empty speech bubble, and what the hell does that mean?
The secondary remote that comes with some Samsung sets is quite interesting; top half is effectively a trackpad, with a few raised areas for some key functions, which makes it a bit simpler to get to on screen icons by moving your finger around. It also has a built in microphone, which is a little more reliable - especially in a noisy room - for speech control than having to shout at the TV.
But yes, remotes are often overlooked.
Re: Dream telly
Personally, if it's going to be a flat panel, then you may as well forget about the sound altogether.
You're never going to get really decent sound out of a box that's thinner than an old transistor radio, in my view. Sure, they may try to take the rough edges off by processing it to buggery, but frankly even a pair of £50 bookshelf speakers from Richer Sounds are likely to do a better job than the speakers built into most flat panels these days.
Re: “Click here for additional assets”
I appreciate that the string may appear in more than one place; that particular abomination crops up in the Demand 5 app, and also in the LoveFilm Trailers section, which both have the same look and feel, so I presume it's part of a Sony application framework.
If it can't be tweaked for each app, then "Click OK for more" would at least be somewhat clearer to ordinary people; if you've highlighted something that says "Drama" and the message "Click OK for more" appears, then it's probably reasonably clear that you'll get more items in the Drama category.
But the message as it stands is just horrible, and not a form of language that I think any ordinary person ever uses.
And it was things like that, and the ridiculous 35 pages of terms in a web browser, that made me think "Didn't Sony let ordinary people sit and play with these TV sets, and ask them for feedback?"
Of course, other manufacturers are guilty of similarly stupid things; but given the position Sony used to have in the TV market, I felt it particularly shocking (and perhaps a good example of why they don't have that position any more) that there were so many elements in their UI that I felt, frankly, just showed a lack of attention to detail.
Re: iPlayer 2 Click Fail!
Yes, indeed if the TV's off, then you'll have to press more buttons; sorry, for not mentioning that.
Nevertheless, the fact is that there is an established, and consistent method of launching the BBC's catch-up service. I'd dearly love to see that implemented too on the other channels, so that the same two pressed would launch catch-up for whichever channel you happen to be watching. It would certainly be technically possible, and wouldn't it be handy if there was that consistency, just like people used to know to press text then 888 for subtitles?
One of the many (I have a long list, but only so many words to write for an article) things that annoyed me with those Samsung apps is the way that you don't discover they need updating until you try to launch them, whereupon you have to sit twiddling your fingers for a few minutes while the new version is downloaded.
Sod that, I'll go make a cup or tea, or do something else. Why they can't update in the background like, for example, a £100 android phone, is beyond me.
Re: Never mind the UIs
The latest Samsung 8000 series sets have an "Evolution" slot, enabling them to sell you upgraded memory, processor and so forth, so that you can be "future proof" when they come up with other exciting new services.
Given their history of updating software on some sets, it will be interesting to see if there ever is an evolution card.
Re: first smart tv....
Having just looked at quite a few, I do think that, in some regards, the Panasonic SmartViera interface at least has the merit of simplicity, in terms of finding the various apps, with its 3 x 3 grid that that the live TV in the centre. You can move things around, you'll only ever have eight items on the screen, so you can see them clearly from the sofa, and you can put the things you use a lot - and I doubt many people will use more than eight - on the first screen.
It may not look as fancy as some of the others, but it's certainly less cluttered and simple to navigate with a remote.
The Squariel was for BSB - British Satellite Broadcasting - not BDB, the terrestrial outfit.
But anyway, here's a rare sighting of a squariel in the wild, just down the road from me:
Re: Freeview also made technical changes
The 8K/2K switch was much later; it was changes to QAM that made the difference to robustness; the 16QAM gave slightly less bandwidth, but with fewer reception issues.
I had ONdigital pretty early on, but the reception on the commercial muxes was - even in London with a huge aerial - pretty ropy at some times of year.
Re: O2 are trialling something similar
For voice calls from the Nexus, you could do what I do: run 3CX (there's a free version) on your PC at home, and set up a VPN connection to it; the 3CX (or any other) SIP client can then connect to your system at home via the VPN and make calls that way. If you want to use an analogue line, substitute 3CX for a cheap SIP FXO adapter or a router with one built in like a Fritzbox, though the whether or not it's worth it depends on how you'd be charged by the ISP/Phone company for their own service
I understand why some people think this is patronising, but equally there are some who simply don't want to bother with fiddling around, chargers, and learning how to use a new gadget. We've recently sorted out a phone for my grandmother to use in her room.
She's not far off a century, and still know what's what, but she simply couldn't get on with one of the 'senior friendly' mobiles. Yes, if we persevered, I'm sure we could have taught her how to use it.
Instead I bought a Nokia 22 GSM terminal, which has a PAYG SIM in it, and a perfectly ordinary phone plugged in. In this situation, that's the most sensible solution; given that you can pick up a fixed GSM terminal for 50 quid, it's not an expensive one, either.
It's a nice idea, if it simplifies things for people - but pretty much what I've been doing for a couple of years using the standard SIP client built into my Nokia E72. Press the right hand soft key to make a call over the internet, and it signs into the 3CX server at home.
With the daily data packages, and given how little VoIP calls use up, it's cheaper to make calls that way than by using roaming, even over 3G
One immediate advantage that springs to mind is that if they want to get the likes of Netflix on board, many of those already have an app, and hence experience, with delivering their content on the Android platform.
If you're a big player, like a major TV manufacturer, you can probably persuade people like that that they should be creating a version of their system for your equipment. Much harder to do if it you're a small company in a small market. So, use a platform that they know, and which won't be exclusive to your kit - bar, say, a few UI tweaks - and I think you'll stand a much better chance of getting those services on board.
Well, yes, you could just upgrade OS. Some of us don't really have that luxury, because of specific apps.
For example, when I work for one publishing house, we use a particular version of Quark CopyDesk; certainly with Lion, it wasn't actually possible to get it to install - otherwise, I'd have bought a new mac when my old one failed, a week after the launch of Lion.
And yes, a newer version of CopyDesk might well work just fine, but that's not what this publishing house uses. And they're not going to upgrade every single system in the building, to accomodate a few people who have brand new versions of OS X. The same is likely true of other companies as well, where an OS upgrade could necessitate a much much larger expenditure on other software upgrades (hello, Adobe, Quark; would you like to mug me first, or shall I just hand over my wallet straight away?)
While MS at least kept things like XP available for some corporates for a while, Apple doesn't seem to do that, which is a shame, and in my view weakens their position in some of their traditional markets.
Sure, I could use the incredibly hideous web portal for QPS; I could also stick nails in my eyes, which would probably be more productive.
Essentially, it may only be £20 to upgrade, but for some of us, it will result in much reduced productivity, or a lot of extra expenditure on new versions of software that aren't, honestly, strictly needed.
That's not always possible, depending on how the firmware's built. With some products, the core chippery documentation is only available under NDA - I'm looking at you and the EMMA2, NEC - and some of the basic libraries may be supplied by the chip maker.
That can mean that it's far from simple to take the code and simply give it away, even if the administrator could be persuaded of the value of doing such a thing.
I think it's a case of simply being too small, and not having the massive marketing budget of companies like Sony or Panasonic. The likes of those can throw money at a product, and even when it's a bit clunky - as DVRs from both those companies have been at various times - people will still buy, because of the name on the front of the box.
To be successful in a niche, I think you need a unique selling point and something that will help build a community - as I was a little instrumental in doing with the Topfield products in the UK, via toppy.org.uk; that was possible because of the potential to tweak and add your own software, which appealed to a lot of people online.
Without a USP around which you can build a community, a big marketing budget, or a 'heritage' name like Roberts Radios, I think it's going to be very hard for a firm to achieve the economies of scale that are probably necessary these days.
The boxes are, with recent firmware, pretty up with all the current Freeview HD spec - red button, IPTV channels, and of course SD and HD in H.264/DVB-T2 as well as MPEG2, so I think they should be fairly ok for a while; any substantial changes over the next few years are more likely due to be shifting of muxes to fit in 4G, or conversions of muxes from T to T2, all of which it will cope with just fine.
It wouldn't surprise me (and this is just speculation, nothing more) to see remaining stock popping up somewhere like Morgan Computers.
Re: 'tis odd
Oddly, nope - it can support higher; the E6 for example manages 640x480 on a smaller screen. But I think one of the possible pitfalls is that, while the OS can support better, many apps may have been coded on the assumption that it wasn't - hence some E6 owners have found some apps don't work so well on it.
And, of course, with Symbian effectively knifed in the back, I would imagine many developers may not want to make the effort to rewrite their apps. A new flagship phone that ran fewer apps than last year's models would probably annoy some of those who'll buy it because (or in spite of) the OS.
So, that, and probably a lower BOM perhaps nudged in the direction of keeping things as they are, which is a shame.
I'm on my third Apple laptop of the last decade or so; certainly with the first, and I'm pretty sure with the second - but not with the current 4 year old - various adaptors for the display were included, offering things such as VGA, S video or composite outputs.
And none of these has been a top of the range model, though they weren't entry level either. Yes, many people may never need an ethernet adaptor, but quite a few will - and I'll wager it'll be a larger number than ever used an S video output from a G4 PowerBook.
If they'd never been in the habit of including useful adaptors at all, then one could be more sanguine about having to pay extra for ethernet. But it really does seem a shame to have stopped such a helpful practice, to put it mildly.
Re: Maybe worth a look.....
No multi-tasking, I'm afraid, as it's S40, rather than Symbian. And missing out on GPS is a nuisance too, but if you can live with those limitations - and many will be able to - then yes, these potentially offer much of what many users will want, without the traditional smartphone drawbacks.
Re: against Nokia
On the whole - and it's had quite a few software updates since launch - I've been very happy with my E72; it's sometimes a bit of a pig for web browsing, though Opera makes things a little more acceptable.
One of the reasons I still stick with it is because it does the phone things really well, and those seem to have been rather forgotten by some of the other OSs, in my view.
And, ProfiMail is an excellent IMAP client for Symbia; playing with a Galaxy Nexus at the moment, and while the stock email is better than the execrable G1 (which put me off Android for years), it's still not as good as ProfiMail.
I have a HomePlug in the bedroom that's in an extension strip, and it works just fine for the devices in there - IP camera, SIP phone and audio streamer.
Then again, in the living room, HomePlug performance was much worse when plugged into the switched spur that drives all the AV kit than when plugged in to the ring main at the point where the spur comes off it.
So you may have to experiment to get the best results, but extension leads don't automatically kill the signal.
Re: Separate Router And Switch
Not just London, though obviously if you have BT Infinity or one of Virgin's recent upgrades, it's more likely.
However it can be a potential problem for those who are using their laptop, say, with a cheap ISP-supplied wireless router in a built up area. Especially if they then do something reckless like plugging in a 'b' device. That 'b' device alone might drag the speed down to around 5Mbps max, even without local wireless congestion slowing things further.
Re: 5Ghz problem
Yes, penetration can be a problem though I find that even with my thick concrete rendered brick walls, the 5GHz signal penetrates all the way across the flat, and it's not positioned centrally.
Yes, the signal is weaker than the 2.4 by the time it reaches my laptop, but the lack of competing networks means the performance is still better.
One compromise option, which I had for a while, was an Espresso machine that had an adaptor for ESE pods, which are sort of standard, and quite widely available from a number of people. So I could have those for when I was in a hurry, and grind my own the rest of the time.
When it died, though, I went for a big beast of a Siemens bean to cup machine, which makes a very nice coffee, and lets me use whatever beans I fancy. Nespresso is ok to have an an hotel room, but I wouldn't want one in my home.
Some folk probably think me a terrible snob, but if someone offers me "tea or coffee?" my response is usually "is it instant coffee?" and if the answer's yes, then I'll have tea.
Re: C4's "Home of the future"
If you've read my reviews of the Roomba here, you'll know that when it comes to things like dust behind cabinets, I really don't care... if I can't see it, it's not really dirty.
Similarly for cobwebs on the ceiling; though I must admit to mild embarrassment when a gentleman caller got them caught in his mohawk as he entered my boudoir. Rather than a robot, of course, the better solution is to invite tall people with big hair to visit more often.
Re: *still* not there
Or worse - movement sensor lights in toilets. I've stayed in hotels with those, and it can be quite alarming.
That said, I do have them in my flat, because I live on the lower-ground floor, and the internal corridor is lit only by what light comes from any open doors. I'd probably end up leaving the lights on all the time otherwise. But other than situation such as that, I agree that internal motion/activity sensors (including TVs that turn off if you've not use the remote control for four hours) often don't quite get the balance between usefulness and inconvenience right.
Re: Slowly creeping in
I would tend to agree; and I'd add that while whole house systems using a single protocol still seem a it expensive and frankly unnecessary to many people, as more gadgets become IP-enabled, those of us of a more technical bent will be able to find ways to link them together with our own scripts, in the ways that we want. And as a result, we'll probably have something that's more personalised, and more useful.
Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....
Yes, on some paid content, there are restrictions - though it's more generally where if you record something from a channel, and no longer have that channel in your package, you can't watch the recording.
On the old TopUpTV service, if you didn't watch something within a certain time, and the keys rolled over on the viewing card, then you might not be able to watch; that's more an artefact of the way a CI module works than a deliberate business decision.
But for free to air programming, there aren't any expiry mechanisms. In some cases, there are systems that prevent content being transferred from the PVR's hard drive, but that's as far as it goes.
Re: Time for a Change of Plan, Nokia ..? (@ThomH)
I must admit, I've had only passing acquaintance with the touch screen models, because I prefer a physical keyboard. The inconsistencies would doubtless grate; I'm told they're a bit better now, thankfully, in Belle.
But it does irk me that touchscreens and fewer buttons mean, for example, that where I can just type a number and press the right hand 'Net call' soft key on my E72, I'm now expected to root around in menus to find the appropriate option or - on some platforms - actually launch a separate application to make a call over VoIP. Much as I know people like touch interfaces, I struggle to see how making something that used to be straightforward into a something so much more complex is actually in improvement.
Re: @Steve Evans :-)
I'm mostly using an E72, which is excellent for messaging, but when I was on holiday last year, I took the N95 as a backup - UK sim in that and a foreign one on the E72. And I was pleasantly surprised once more to see the quality of some of the photos that the N95 produced.
Re: The author assumes too much........
No, what I'm saying is that just because they have the rights to broadcast, it does not necessarily follow that they have the rights to distribute on the internet, or that those rights are available without any additional costs.
If you want them to make stuff freely available then you either restrict it to things where the rights have been acquired, or you ignore the rights, or you absorb the acquisition cost into your overheads.
When archive material is scheduled for broadcast, they'll arrange the necessary clearances, and pay the necessary fees to use it - but that can take time. Look at how long it took, for example, to be able to get the archive of Desert Island Discs up and running.
The effort involved in tracking everyone down and obtaining all the permissions for a huge amount of archive material is not trivial, especially when you start to get to older content. And rights are often far from straightforward - if you followed programmes like Newswipe, you'll know, for instance, that to show the 'Hollywood' sign incurs fees, or that to include footage from things like the Leveson inquiry is only allowed in certain types of programme.
So, just because they can broadcast something does not mean that they can necessarily offer it for download. Yes, potentially, they could move to a model where every rights request includes the option of internet sale or download. But that's not where things stand now, or indeed where they were in the past.
Re: If the BBC commissioned the work....
Which PVRs time limit recordings? I can't think of any off the top of my head. I can think of those that don't allow offloading of content, but certainly on the free to air platforms, I've never seen auto-expiry of content, which seems to be what you're suggesting.
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