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* Posts by Richard 12

1527 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009

BT's 'six-month free broadband' offer is a big fat FIB - ads watchdog

Richard 12
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Re: why is line-rental mandatory?

My phone line clearly has different kit for phone and ADSL, as I spent a few days with no dialtone but the ADSL was still running.

Next door still had working phone, so wasn't complete exchange failure.

I currently pay £1 PCM for my phone, and a little under £29 for the ADSL. I see it that way round, anyway.

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Zuck on that! Instagram loses HALF its hipsters in a month

Richard 12
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Re: Hmmm

Although if this does go through, stripping metadata becomes a clear act of deliberate copyright infringement.

Somebody should be able to make that stick.

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Richard 12
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Re: How many of those orphan works will actually be of value?

If the photo's good enough to be published for commercial gain then it's good enough to be paid for.

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Richard 12
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Unhappy

Re: : ) Try *<:oB instead

Although the current ConDems are still topped by NuLabour for sheer unadulterated insanity.

On the bright side, perhaps somebody will come up with a way to hold MPs personally responsible for something.

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Anger grows over the death of Aaron Swartz

Richard 12
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Utterly wrong.

He was accused of those things.

He had not broken the law, as the case had not gone to trial.

- And quite possibly never would, as the alleged victim didn't want to press charges anyway.

Or would you be happy for us to post that you are a criminal if you are ever accused of anything?

The only reason that post isn't prejudicial or libellous is because the guy is dead.

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Ten stars of CES 2013: Who made the biggest splash?

Richard 12
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Almost certainly the LED lighting actually

If you light something with White or RGB LED, it is seen completely differently by the eye and the camera, as the sensors are very different - the camera "blue" saturates a very, very long time before the eye when objects are lit with Blue or White LEDs.

Thus reality and screen image differ greatly - for a really extreme example, try taking a photo of Hogwarts at "night" at the Harry Potter Experience thingy.

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Latest exoplanet discovery is a virtual CLONE of Earth

Richard 12
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Re: Slightly frustrating article.

I hope you're wrong, and it's merely "no currently-living human being".

Even then, if we pick up intelligible radio transmissions from Them it would have a pretty big impact on our culture anyway, regardless of what They actually said.

(Probably the alien equivalent of Radio 1)

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Richard 12
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Re: So long, and thanks...

Presumably the PR people thought "clever sharks" didn't sound as good, so went with dolphins - and to hell with the science of how dolphins evolved.

A water world would be a fish world, unless it had a significantly dry period for land-based animals to evolve. Milk is difficult in water.

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Hey, tech titans! Those smartmobe sales bans? Give it a rest. NOW

Richard 12
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Or in lighting control - DMX, RDM, sACN and ACN

All with no patents, you only pay for a copy of the actual standard document(s).

There are a lot of industries that have managed to produce patent-free interoperability standards, to the benefit of all the players in the market.

Any particular implementation is copyright, and some companies have better implementations than others.

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Do Not Call Register operator breaches Register

Richard 12
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Don't forget Step 1.5

Mute the microphone!

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Microsoft pats self on back over Windows 8 sales

Richard 12
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Re: Sales figures are not very relevant

They'll never publish those.

I don't think they ever have, and the whole point of these kinds of press release is to spin whatever internal data they have the best possible way by cherry-picking and other techniques that would make an honest statistician have a fit!

That's why the Santa article is probably right - if this is the best spin they can manage, Win 8 is pretty much dead in the water.

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'Not even Santa could save Microsoft's Windows 8'

Richard 12
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Happy

Switch to Qt C++ then

Cross-platform, and can use pretty much any compiler you like. Qt Creator is also one of the best IDEs out there - not perfect, but pretty damn good.

Then you can simply forget everything MS invents developer-wise.

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Sky watchers prep for early 2013 asteroid fly-bys

Richard 12
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Happy

Re: Rather humbling

We know where all the big ones are, so no worries about an extinction-level impact for a good century or so. (Then our predictions break down, but I'm not all that worried about big impacts over a hundred years away.)

That said, you're right - we don't know where all the ones big enough to level a city or small town are.

However, everyone knows that the only cities such things ever hit are central London, Paris, New York City, Washington DC or the Golden Gate Bridge - Hollywood said so.

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Victory on mobile belongs to Google in 2013

Richard 12
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Except that Apple are doing the same thing.

As are Microsoft and RIM on their respective platforms.

So is it better to pay up front and hand over your data anyway, or get it for the price if handing over your data?

Perhaps it's better to consider the merits of the actual product - in my opinion iOS6 is the runaway not-winner as it has very little functionality compared to the others - heck, there isn't even a way to see the complete current date ("Sat 5" is not a date!) on the home screen, let alone time in other time zones.

Yet that's trivial on phones that support widgets, like Android.

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Anonymous turns private eye in Ohio rape case

Richard 12
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Re: Here say?

Woah. If any of that about the prosecutor is true, when is she being locked up for gross misconduct in public office, then put on trial for her part in the alleged rape?

Or are judges and prosecutors simply above the law in the USA?

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'SHUT THE F**K UP!' The moment Linus Torvalds ruined a dev's year

Richard 12
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WTF?

Re: John Szetela

Of course he did. Every programmer does.

When I find something something stupid in code I'm maintaining, I almost always mutter "You ***** idiot" (or worse) under my breath.

It doesn't matter whether I made the error or somebody else did - the mistake is stupid.

I can't believe I'm the only one.

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Windows Media Center EPG has SWITCHED OFF, wail Euro users

Richard 12
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Re: Sounds familair

If your WinPhone 7.x already does absolutely everything you will ever want it to do, that's fine.

If you'd like to play some new games or use an updated/new utility - tough. Not gonna happen, not now, not ever.

What I don't know is whether you can take your purchased apps (and their upgrades) onto a WinPhone 8 handset - if you have to repurchase them you've been properly screwed over.

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Official SCIENCE*: HIGH HEELS make you SEXY (Ladies)

Richard 12
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The wheel got us out of the caves

Then the heel brought us back - otherwise there'd be no baby cavemen.

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NYC mayor pins crime rate spike on iPhone, iPad theft

Richard 12
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Re: Apple ban!

Both the SIM and IMEI number are required to identify a phone to the network. The IMEI is unique to a particular handset and the SIM for a subscriber.

That's how you can still make an emergency call without a SIM.

It's pretty trivial to block stolen phones using the IMEI, and I believe it's done automatically in Europe.

No idea why the US telcos don't, it would help reduce EU phone crime as well by taking away one fairly large fencing destination.

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Ten… top tech cock-ups of 2012

Richard 12
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Re: The *Other* Side

Or the side that just wants to be able to buy a movie, watch it on their TV, smartphone, tablet and computer when they want without having to leap through hoops and get labelled a pirate over and over again - despite having actually paid for the content.

Heck, even just buying a Blu-ray and playing it on your Blu-ray player is fraught with obstacles - region coding, and even key revocation that makes it suddenly impossible for you to buy any new movies!

Power has swung to give complete and total control to the MPAA et al - they can take away your ability to watch something you have already paid for, just because they feel like it.

That's the "other side" here - your rights as a consumer to actually watch/listen/play the thing you bought and paid for.

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Lego quad-copter: your ultimate drone nightmare

Richard 12
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Really? Bloody hell

That is seriously shoddy and rather dangerous.

- The APM inside this Lego copter can go so far as to return-to-base under full autopilot should it lose contact!

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Richard 12
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Busier than the PM?

Nope, just fewer staff.

Although I'm still surprised that his personal protection officers managed to forget his kids. That's pretty sloppy.

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Boffins build substrate for 'peel and stick' solar cells

Richard 12
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Re: I wish to place a bet...

Or Farnell, and if you live near enough to Leeds they will open their trade counter at almost any hour just for you.

Yes, I did that once, late at night, project running late and poof! blew up an IC.

Phoned Farnell, they had it in stock and I drive over and grabbed it.

Lifesavers, and so now, many years later I'll still buy from them first.

Their online catalogue is pretty good as well.

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BT ordered to pay £95m to rivals it overcharged for FIVE years

Richard 12
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Re: What have BT done to upset El Reg?

In many cases, BT killed the third-party attempts at broadband provision.

Quite simply, once the third-party looked like they had got the funding, BT would suddenly decide they were going to roll out their broadband despite refusing for several years, thus taking away the customers and then the banks took away the funding.

In many cases BT never even actually completed said roll-out, but by the time it became clear they weren't going actually do it the third party was already defunct - and the monopoly assured.

And that's even before Phorm and the abject failure of the UK government to uphold the law.

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Kickstarted mobe charger 'kicked to death by Apple'

Richard 12
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Re: Hmmm

One that specifically needs regulated 5VDC @ 2A and won't work with regulated 5VDC @ 2.1A?

Slightly concerned that you think that could exist, given that you claim that's your job...

Apple used to have a data connection to the charger to refuse to charge if it wasn't appropriately blessed, but I don't think they do that anymore.

Although to be fair, there are a lot of "copies" of USB chargers that don't actually contain a regulated power supply and are barely more than an oscillator and a transistor, but those tend to not work at all, catch fire, kill/injure the user via electric shock and/or destroy the device.

Those are actually illegal to sell in the EU, unfortunately Trading Standards seem far more interested in chasing copied CDs than dangerous goods, if the TV show us anything to go by.

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US patent office: Nice try Apple, but pinch-to-zoom is NOT a new invention

Richard 12
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Mushroom

Re: ...the USPTO has at least one employee who is awake

While that's true, it's also the case that many of those 2000 a day are trivially obvious to someone "skilled in the art", and even more have prior art that could be found with a single Google search.

That said, there are a lot of extremely disingenuous patent applications that deliberately mislead the casual reader as to the purpose and scope.

Perhaps severe legal consequences are needed to reduce that - including devastatingly punitive damages for patent trolls taking companies to court with invalid patents that should never have been issued. Perhaps as far as "Now hand over everything you own. Yes, that includes the shirt from the CEO's back and the lawyer's internal organs."

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After Sandy Hook, Senator calls for violent video game probe

Richard 12
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Re: Prevention rather than cure...

If this Chinese guy had an assault rifle and lots of ammo instead of the knife, would more people have been injured more seriously, and would the death toll have been higher?

That's the point of gun control - there are always crazies out to harm and kill, guns just make it a lot easier to do that to more people than pretty much anything else.

The "self-defence" argument is plainly bollocks as well:

Quick, what's the instant visual difference between a murderous nutter sighting on their next victim and the armed stranger sighting on the murderous nutter?

You've got one second to decide, as do the other armed strangers in the room who are looking at you.

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EU launches formal Microsoft privacy policy probe

Richard 12
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The loophole is here:

may be used, modified, adapted, saved, reproduced, distributed, and displayed ... to provide ... Microsoft products and services.

And we have a landgrab!

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Siri: Can you make a Raspberry Pi open a garage door?

Richard 12
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I'm sorry, I can't do that Dave.

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Ocean seeding a dead duck as carbon solution

Richard 12
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Re: Scientists

There's enough nuclear fuel sat in Sellafield for at least fifty years of UK demand, possibly more.

Mining it takes relatively little energy because the fuel is so energy-dense - much less than the "ship wood chips over from Canada" idea that's keeping Drax open.*

The real question is whether Wind is carbon neutral, given the materials, maintenance and connectivity requirements coupled with the very low generation output and the need to always use it when available, regardless of actual demand.

* Glad it is staying open, as we'd be in the dark if it wasn't.

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Next IPCC climate assessment due 2014 now everywhere online

Richard 12
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This is the problem

Fundamentally, the science has simply vanished from the IPCC and the publicised debate.

The public face of Anthropomorphic Climate Change currently consists of two entrenched groups, each with their fingers in their ears and shouting "Nyah Nyah you're a poopy head" at the other.

This has probably happened because the politicians and nutter greenies got involved.

You can tell because the strategies being proposed can simply never work and are mostly self-defeating or self-destructive.

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The best smartphones for Christmas

Richard 12
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Re: @Frank Bough

As to the physical qualities, the drop/smash video you mention was sponsored by Apple, so it's not surprising all the "tests" were massively biased in favour of the iPhone.

- S3 landing on the screen, iPhone on the rear corner, and watch how the beer bottle lands and ask yourself if the iPhone really could have survived being hit in the screen with a corner, instead of the flat.

The water drop is impressive, until you notice that the touchscreen didn't work anymore and just how fast they skipped on...

Shame really, as that is one place where the I expected the hermetically-sealed nature of the iPhone to have helped it more - unfortunately a touchscreen phone with broken touchscreen is truly dead.

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Google Maps becomes Apple's most popular app

Richard 12
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Re: Poor colour scheme

Also very surprised by the colour scheme.

The Apple one, has only two colours - single and dual carriageway - regardless of the actual size of either.

Meanwhile Google have small road, main road, dual carriageway and motorway, much better.

However, the Google treatment of motorways is strange - they are green with a blue central reservation, which you can't see once you zoom out so there's no visible difference between the M1 and the A1 at small scale - a major issue with the Apple one at all zooms.

- For our foreign friends, this matters because there are many vehicles you can drive on one but not the other.

Different to Googles web map, which makes it very weird.

On the brighter side, Google's map still loads much faster than the Apple one.

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Richard 12
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The Ordinance Survey is without comparison

And also pretty damn expensive to licence commercially - as it should be, given the high accuracy, and the depth of the data is enough to build a full 3D scale model of the UK!

- At school we built a physical model of a local hill using an OS map. Interesting but took ages.

So while Apple (or Google) could have licensed it, presumably they thought the cost was too high.

Strange because i'ts available in some really nice digitised formats. Friend of mine has them for his squadron to use in DofE planning.

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Londoners can bonk their way to work without Oyster cards TODAY

Richard 12
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So, given that my cards are in my wallet

How the heck do I know which card - Oyster, MasterCard, Visa etc is the one that actually paid the journey? If I've got a bus pass on my Oyster, and the reader happens to see my MasterCard first and eats my money instead, what comeback do I have?

Do we now need to separate all our cards into individual sheaths?

Or carefully extract the card from the wallet before waving it at the reader, thus causing a massive traffic jam behind as cold, gloved fingers try to find the right card in the mass of plastic in any modern wallet or purse?

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Review: Apple Mac Mini 2012

Richard 12
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Practically certain to be a HDCP issue

Remind me again why DRM is a good idea?

So far in my experience all HDCP has achieved is to confuse users and annoy support, when stuff "magically" degrades because the handshake didn't work, or refuses to display at all.

Had both happen at a lot of conferences - "We'll bring the media on our laptop" generally turns into a last-minute panic when the media will not play on the data-projector.

On the bright side it cranks up the price when we have to fire up our kit to rip out the DRM and play it.

That's even usually media generated and owned by the client.

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That square QR barcode on the poster? Check it's not a sticker

Richard 12
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Facepalm

Re: What kind of idiot uses these things anyway?

I stick mine to the products I've commissioned when on a call, and hand them to customers when I've given them training.

Gives the customer a phone number (and website address) reminder when they get stuck. Seems pretty useful given the general complete and total failure of people to look on our website for phone numbers. Or look at our website at all, in many cases.

- Of course, my mobile number is not on the card, just the main office number.

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Kiwi archaeologists cook up a record of Earth’s magnetism

Richard 12
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Re: Rift zones, anyone?

Yes, however the magnetic field orientation isn't consistent across the whole globe.

At the very least it wobbles up and down, but there is also sideways movement.

So it's useful to know the historical orientation at as many points on the surface as we can.

As to a real-world use, there are databases of how it varies "locally" at the moment that are used by smartphones and drones, it would be useful to know how often those will need updating.

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White Van Man could become a rolling radio relay

Richard 12
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Re: Why bother putting the relays on vehicles?

Indeed.

Although there are many roads with no lamp posts.

I'm also rather confused about what this could be for - the roads that are congested enough for this to work are within range of mobile phone towers, and the ones that aren't in range of mobile phone towers aren't busy enough for it to work.

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I've got the 'fastest growing THINGY ever', boasts Google+ chief

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Google worries me

Nope, your tablet knows where it is.

I'd guess the app simply defaulted to "the town you're currently in" when it started up for the first time. It's a fairly reasonable assumption for any software developer to make.

How did the tablet know where you are?

If it's got a cellular telephone system, that's enough to pick a town - and often enough to locate within a few hundred metres. GPS would clearly work down to much finer position.

If it has neither of those, it's still got WiFi, so it just looks up locations of the visible access points on the Google database. Originally acquired by Google Street View cars, and continually updated by any GPS-equipped device owner using Google Location Services (as per their terms of use).

Apple and Microsoft do exactly the same thing - just without the cars.

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Microsoft's anti-Android Twitter campaign draws ire, irony

Richard 12
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Re: Hackers would go after Windows phones...

Also most set-top boxes and TVs, and quite a few routers.

There's a bit of Windows CE out there still, but MS don't recommend it for new designs.

So these days pretty much every consumer "black box" device with a network connection is running a version of Linux, because it's cheap and lightweight.

Industrial are mostly Linux or VxWorks - the latter is properly real-time, but modern hardware is so fast that's starting to matter less in real equipment.

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Google puts Nexus 4 back on sale, sells out pronto

Richard 12
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In many cases, yes, plastic is better than glass.

Glass is harder so doesn't scratch as easily.

However, plastic (eg. polycarbonate) is much tougher than the toughest glass, so does not shatter.

Personally, I would prefer my phone to scratch rather than shatter when I drop it, as scratches are easier to ignore than shards of glass in my ear, or a starred screen.

Your opinion may differ.

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Slash A THIRD off Surface RT price or it's toast, Microsoft told

Richard 12
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Re: Anybody know what Surface does?

You can pretend to be a robot if you buy enough of them.

I suspect you could build a robot like that Stephen Fry one at Golden Joysticks for less money though.

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Pioneering spidernaut snuffs it after short Smithsonian stay

Richard 12
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Flies in Spaaace!

It's harder than that for flies, as their entire physiology is based on wing beats, pumping both the air and 'blood' through their bodies.

So I think that not being able to flap wings without large effects will make them a bit short of breath.

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Forget fluorescents, plastic lighting strips coming out next year

Richard 12
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Unhappy

No, not dimmable.

Absolutely, 100% certain that no, they are not dimmable by 'existing' dimmer switches.

Your existing ones are either SCR or rheostat, although if they were particularly expensive then they might be reverse-phase (IGBT).

EL panels use a very high-frequency driver. Any dimming possible is done by giving the drive electronics hard power and a separate control signal to indicate desired level.

Most EL drivers aren't dimmable at all, and those that can don't go very far - maybe 50% minimum?

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Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Halogens don't like dimmers?

Rubbish! Tungsten Halogens on dimmers are absolutely fine.

They're only warm enough for the tungsten to evaporate once they're already hot enough for the halogen cycle to run. These are a pretty big part of my day job, we'd notice this!

Domestic ones are even better as the actual halogen capsule is tiny, protected inside the outer envelope so stays clean and loses less heat to the environment.

Also - run them at 90% and you increase the lifetime by around 30% with a small drop in brightness, equally, run them at 110% and the lifetime drops by about 30-50% (with a bit of a brightness boost).

Overvolting is pretty common in the UK - many lamps sold in the UK and Europe are 230V (or even 220V). In the UK, your actual mains voltage is usually 240V, sometimes (eg most of Central London) as high as 250V.

- This is also why a lot of CFLs and LED lamps are awful. They're just not designed for the mains voltage we actually have.

Flashing may kill them, but that's thermal shock snapping the supports or filament, not evaporation.

So dimmer switches can be better - soft start, can run them at the actual rated (RMS) voltage, and the option to run at 90%.

That said - GU10s are fragile as heck. Choose MR16 if you can, they last considerably longer. Low voltage halogen is also more efficacious than mains voltage of the same wattage, which is nice!

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Richard 12
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Interesting, but I want to see the real thing first!

It's just EL panels/strings.

EL has always been pretty expensive and rather dim (although high efficacy).

What's new here is the colour - previously it was mostly greenish, although some new colours have become available.

My guess (not read the paper) is that they've simply mixed a few EL colours together into one sheet of plastic.

As to lifetime, EL items don't "blow", they just get dimmer and less efficacious as they age, until you finally get annoyed with them.

Without the degeneration curve the claim is meaningless.

LED actually does the same, (except for the odd ruptured diode). The lifetime quoted is generally either to 70% or 50% of output when new.

Finally, a lot of white LEDs look horrible because many of the bins allow green, which humans really cannot stand, instead of allowing magenta which we can.

It remains to be seen what the actual spectrum of this is.

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IETF bakes Google's SPDY protocol into HTTP 2.0

Richard 12
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Re: 150% increase?

Google knows what pages and adverts you wish to see, so provides them before you decide to click the link.

That's Web 3.0!

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Hearts, minds and balls: Microsoft's Windows 8 Surface gamble

Richard 12
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Re: Not getting either RT or Surface Pro

You clearly haven't worked with many consultants or salescritters!

The pub session is where most of the important "seriously, what did you really want?" discussions take place.

Beats dry, incomplete PDF documentation hands down for both completeness and speed.

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Data cop slap for Brit text pests

Richard 12
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Re: Ah but

Now that's a good idea!

I tend to mute the mike and let them chat to nobody, but a rape whistle sounds much better.

... Or perhaps a modem handshake.

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