What's your 20?
Let me be the first to welcome our self driving/navigating overlords.
85 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009
Let me be the first to welcome our self driving/navigating overlords.
As an owner of neither a Nest or Hive thermostat, I'm happy to report that the GMT/BST switch was a complete non-event for our tado°.
It happily started pre-heating the house as per usual to ensure it was toasty warm just as I had to roll out of bed.
> How about a muffin?
Have a +1 from me for the Dwarfer's reference.
For anybody who doesn't have a smeg what we're dribbling on about, have a look at this:
The headline wittering on about VBScript misses one small but rather salient point.
VBScript is not VBA.
The two may be closely related but they are distinct. VBScript is a lightweight scripting language, VBA is a programming language embedded within an MS Office app such as Excel, Word, Access.
Although they share a lot of similarities (reserved words, flow control mechanisms) they are not the same thing. For example, in VBScript, all variables are treated as Variant, whereas in VBA (and VB) they can be strongly typed (eg String, Integer etc).
Not a movie, but the current Syfy show "Continuum" is quite enjoyable and looks at some of the issues around changing the past and what that could mean for the future (present?).
Episodes are available on Netflix for anybody interested in taking a look.
BTW, the title was dredged up from memory recesses before a quick Wikipedia pointed out that this was used as the title for a couple of STTNG episodes.
Crashplan will allow you to backup your chosen directories to an external USB drive.
If you want to backup data to your NAS, my advice would be to be to setup an iSCSI share that then gives you an extra drive accessible to your Windows machine. Then you save to a folder within that.
The following article gives the lowdown on this.
Also, have a +1 from me for the RISCOS reference as a previous Archimedes/RISC PC (A710 and StrongARM) owner.
Some of the backup software makes it very easy to share in this manner.
For example, the Crashplan client allows you to do this without paying them for any cloud storage. You can backup to remote "friend" machines and even better, you can seed an initial backup locally onto an external drive that is then taken to your friend's house (aka "offsite") and plugged in there. Subsequent backups will then only transfer the deltas (eg new/changed data).
For the record, I have a paid plan with Crashplan, but no other connection with the company than that.
As a Qnap owner (TS410 - running in RAID 5) I had my first near miss when I found the box wasn't responding one day. A visual inspection showed 2 of the 4 drives were red (degraded). A reboot didn't help and only when I hard power cycled the unit (cleanly, I should add) did it all come back to life with 4 good drives and everything intact.
It wasn't clear what had caused this til I noticed the clock on our oven was flashing 12:00 constantly. Seemingly during the night the power must have dropped out for a short period, resulting in an unhappy NAS.
The box is used mostly for storing our media library (physical media in loft being a form of backup) but also family photos as well. After that episode, my next purchase was a UPS to prevent a power related issue, but I then also set about ensuring the photos were mirrored both to another server (HP Microserver running Xenserver with a Quantastor VM) but also to multiple "cloud" destinations including Crashplan, Livedrive and Amazon S3. For the record, the Microserver "listens" to the UPS via the QNAP and also gets notified of "on battery" events so it can cleanly shutdown should the need arise.
If you want to playback local media on your FireTV, then you can sideload XBMC/Kodi onto it and get your NAS hosted content that way.
I've picked up one of these recently (got it on Pre-order for £49) and I have to say it is a decent bit of kit. I'm seriously thinking about a second and retiring my 2 x 2nd Gen Apple TVs (also running XBMC).
Not sure what the going rate is for jailbroken ATV2s these days but it would probably help pay towards the Gaming PC I want to get for Elite Dangerous.
The only niggle I have is that the power cord has an external brick whereas the Apple TV is just a standard figure 8 two pin affair. The other niggle is that the use of Bluetooth also makes it harder to integrate into setups that make use of universal remotes/IR extenders (a la PS3) but a quick Google shows that there are solutions for this as well.
Go via CDG, really?
My own experience of CDG is that terminal changes are painful in the extreme (having to endure the extended bus ride/sight seeing tour that a change entails) to say nothing of having to go back through security again on reentry to the terminal (so not a proper airside transit).
Lets not forget the joys of dodging falling bits of roof either, I'm all for making travel more exciting but there are times when less is more.
Finally, some airlines (looking at you Air France) have scheduled flights with insane connection times (eg 1 hour between an inbound transatlantic flight and a departing hop to LHR) that require them to station somebody at the steps of the inbound aircraft with your name on a board. They will then whisk you away in their Citroen/Renault van to your departure gate in the other terminal.
Presumably, they do this due to experience telling them that pax are unlikely to make the outbound in time if they have to take the tour. I would hope that they no longer do this, but if you see a connection time of 1 hour or just over in your itinerary, be concerned.
3D, on a plane? Hmm, no thanks. Still not persuaded that it's worth any of my money on terra firma, never mind whilst defying gravity.
Airlines, if you want to add something that might actually enhance our entertainment experience, encode your movies for/with Dolby Headphone.
The movies will still have a stereo soundtrack, but even with the coke tins + string affairs that get handed out in cattle class it will give us some semblance of surround sound, assuming it can block out the sound of the onboard a/c. You won't have to upgrade your equipment (unless it's so bad that you have to reset it several times per flight (looking at you here BA) ) so you score on that front as well.
Several moons ago Pipex were my ISP of choice having established a decent service and also as they were one of the early UK ISPs to jump on the broadband wagon (I still recall sending in my trusty US Robotics 33.6 whistler and getting back a shiny Fujitsu ADSL modem in exchange).
Anyway, I migrated from them (cleanly, MAC code etc) to Nildram, then Be and now Plusnet.
However, around 18 months after leaving Pipex, I saw a direct debit going out of my account that I didn't recognise for a couple of hundred pounds.
I did some digging with the bank (Abbey, in their pre Santander guise when their service was resonable) and found that Pipex/Tiscali had taken the money.
Following up with Pipex/Tiscali, it transpired that although I had migrated away cleanly, some part of their monolithic billing platform hadn't got the relevant memo. It still thought I was a customer and should be paying them. Apparently they had a "sweeper" team that would look at accounts such as these and then follow up on getting the money.
In this instance, they had my account details still on record (I switched my payment to Direct Debit just before leaving them so I could cancel the instruction myself). Several broadband related sites at the time were rife with horror stories about attempting to rescind card payment authorities when leaving/migrating and often advised customers to switch to DD as they left to sidestep this issue.
Pipex had setup another Direct Debit against my current account without my permission or knowledge using the historic details and then used this to obtain the payment in question.
I contacted their high profile incident team and let them know in no uncertain terms what I thought of their behaviour (tantamount to fraud in my opinion) and ensured that I got my money back along with some extra for my time/compensation.
The stupidest part was, my old user account/details still worked on their legacy customer site and I could clearly see where one system said "long gone", vs the other one that cluelessly thought I should still be forking over my hard earned each month. So, if I could see that, why the feck didn't their "sweeper" team? Doubly ironic when you consider that they were supposed to be in the communications business.
You can send destinations direct from Google Maps, an example of how to do do can be seen in this video:
Google may have recently restricted this so you have to be signed in with a Google id/account, but the facility is there.
The app in the UK doesn't allow you to sound the horn as that would contravene the Highway Code.
Neither does it allow you check if the vehicle is locked. It allows you to remotely lock or unlock (that much is true), but it won't show if the vehicle is locked/unlocked before you send that request.
The only truly useful part of the app (from my perspective) is the ability to search for a destination on my phone and then squirt that to the in car nav system.
With regard to bad driving on UK motorways, yes I see plenty of middle lane hoggers and folks treating the indicators (turn signals for our US audience) as some sort of optional extras.
Personally, I keep to the left and pull out as required (with signalling so other drivers don't have to rely on telepathy). Additionally, if I'm passing a vehicle in the left lane (or about to) and I can see based on their relative speed that they will need to pull out to pass the vehicle in front of them, I will move to the outer lane to give them space to make that manoeuvre. It's part consideration for others but it's also a defensive move as well, part of what my instructor referred to as "reading the road". How many times have you seen somebody get way too close to the vehicle in front and then suddenly pull out to overtake with no warning (and probably no check of what's next to them)?
I can hear the machines now:
"Unexpected customer in counter area"...
I wish my last Denon separates had lasted 12yrs plus.
Our supposed reference grade DVD-3930 player curled up its toes after less than 3 years due to a crapped out laser. Bear in mind that this puppy was retailing for £1,000 when it launched (we didn't pay anything like that when we purchased it in 2007) and it lived in a dedicated equipment cabinet so overheating shouldn't have been an issue. Can you imagine how I would have felt if I'd been spanked for the full price for one of these?
More recently, our SR7002 AV amp from Marantz (another part of the Denon empire) died having reached the grand old age of 6 years old. Not that impressive as again the unit was well looked after and also kept in an cabinet away from tiny fingers etc). It didn't get a huge amount of use and when looking for a replacement, I studiously avoided any Denon/Marantz offerings and went straight for a Yamaha instead.
The fact that Yamaha will back their stuff up with a 3 year warranty speaks volumes for their faith in the kit. Sure some other brands go even further (eg Bryston will warranty for 20 years), but those items usually carry genuinely eye watering price tags.
In terms of the whole hi fi busted lark, at the end of the day, it's up to the individual how they spend their money. If you can hear a difference and can afford it, then by all means. If you can't hear a difference, then why bother spending the extra?
Yes the BMW i3 is perhaps a bit more oddball compared with the Tesla but then again, it's around half the price of the basic Model S and it has the option for a range extender that you can just top up should you get a serious case of range anxiety.
In the interests of balance, we were at the San Diego Zoo last year and when we parked up, spotted a saloon that initially I thought was a Maserati but on closer inspection turned out to be a Model S.
As I hadn't seen one in the flesh before I took the opportunity to have a good look and came away thinking it was a great looking piece of machinery. The solar charging station in the car park (or parking lot) was a very nifty idea as it served both to shield the cars from the full force of the California sun and to charge them at the same time.
Got to say though, if I was in the position to drop £100k on a lump of metal, I can't help thinking I'd probably rather have an i8 instead.
Don't forget the requirement to have a horse called Binky...
I picked up a Tado back at the start of the year when they were still offering free installation.
To date it's been completely trouble free and the bit that I think will probably save the most energy is that I can control the heating and hot water totally independently.
The old 7 day Drayton timer didn't have the ability to do that so Tado ensures that it's not trying to heat water for us at 10pm. Also, as the main Tado thermostat (aside from being solar powered) is portable, if you're working/using a particular part of the house on a given day, just take the thermostat with you. They have plans to add thermostats for additional zones but nothing concrete on that yet.
I also added a bunch of the Pegler Terrier iTemps that are cheaper than most of the electronic TRVs on the market and although they can't be centrally controlled, they can be easily programmed via a USB stick and can hook up with open window sensors that are pretty cheap.
Tado also knows about the outside temperature as well (via it's Internet connection) so it can optimise when it starts heating in the morning to reach a particular setpoint.
Reg head/strap writers, I think you've missed a trick with this one.
Surely an excellent alternative would have been the annoyingly twee advertising slogan that British Gas used to employ in the past, eg:
Don't you just love being in control?
Providing an excellent demonstration of the same is the late Bob Hoskins.
My variation on the middle finger is to use that on my Win 7 laptops to login via the fingerprint sensor to the single admin account.
This is solely used for software installs and not used interactively for net access. All other access is through "normal" user accounts, usually via my index finger.
There's just something satisfying about giving Microsoft the finger....
As for the TRV's being complicated, once you've set it up, your mum wouldn't need to touch them. There are other TRV's that look perhaps less intimidating such as:
But they cost more. Also, they don't have any way to interlink with open window sensors etc which the Peglers do. For example, we regularly open our bathroom window to air the room after the shower has been used. There's a window sensor that causes the TRV in the bathroom to effectively close itself so we're not trying to heat the garden when the window is left open.
Once the window is closed, the TRV then reverts to whatever temperature is programmed for the time of the day.
@ I ain't Spartacus
For something that can be easily driven from an iPhone, etc, take a look at Tado
It does require an Internet connection to work, but you have options for controlling based on presence detection (or not as the case may be). You can also schedule the Hot Water and Heating completely independently (should you require).
The thermostat can be placed anywhere and is solar powered so no pesky batteries to replace frequently.
As far as avoiding the nightmare of duff TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) consider something like the Pegler Terrier iTemps as described here.
The best prices I found for those (they give a free one when you buy 3) was from these folks. You can get a USB programming stick as well that makes setting them up less of a chore.
I have all of these and whilst it's too early to tell if they're saving me money, the house was definitely more comfortable to be in when it was colder, earlier in the year. I like the fact that unlike our old heating controller, I can tell Tado to only heat water in the morning which should be saving energy.
Don't bother with a VPN. Yes you can use them for your PC but using one on a console or other media player is decidely non trivial.
Use a DNS based service such as www.unotelly.com instead which means you get to stream at the full speed of your connection and as I understand it, it's less trivial to block than a VPN. Oh, and as it's DNS based, you can use it with any Netflix client where you can set the DNS.
With this I can choose to access the US or UK Netflix catalog (amongst others). I can also access BBC iPlayer when I'm overseas using this as well.
This does read like a thinly veiled plug for TOAD doesn't it or is it just me?
Personally I have nothing bad to say about it having used it for development purposes (better than Pl/SQL Developer in my experience and light years ahead of the standard Oracle offerings) but come on folks. Could it have been maybe a bit less gushing?
What about offering some guidance to folks that have to live with SQL Server or Sybase instead?
As another reg commenter pointed out, a good DBA should have proactive monitoring in place already for which there are several excellent tools. Which ones to look at I shall leave as an exercise for the reader.
Couldn't agree more. Had an agent calling the other day asking about roles and mentioned some upcoming contract positions at Barcrap that he'd love to speak with me about.
I advised him not to bother and explained that I didn't particularly want to work in a company that adopted such an unprofessional approach to contractual agreements.
As has been stated here, the scheduler itself didn't fail.
This was a prize example of a PICNIC (Problem In Chair, Not In Computer) so the focus should be on the inexperience of the folks who trashed the job queue along with why they were even being put in that situation in the first place.
As for a distributed high availability setup, well that's fine but generally you find that certain things get replicated from one instance to another (y' know, so they stay in step).
This sort of setup helps when you have a hardware failure, but not when someone (or something) explicitly trashes key information in the live system. Then it's a whole other ball game.
Of course if your scheduler supports some form of point in time recovery, then that would be handy also, but scheduling systems can be horrendously complex beasts especially when dealing with multiple feeds, dependencies, in flight jobs etc. Not for the faint hearted.
The separation of schedulers actually isn't a bad thing. A mistake made against the job queue of one brand should leave the others running without any issues. Of course if you really want to do it properly, you also segregate the staff access to make it less likely that a mistake made against one system can be applied to the others.
Vic, have a +1 from me for working in a Dwarfer's reference.
Episode "Confidence and Paranoia" if my memory serves...
A few years ago we brought in FogBugz to replace a freeware ASP "thing" that somebody thought was a good idea to install.
Of the packages I've seen/used (Jira, Remedy, Service Centre), FogBugz is by far the slickest and you can genuinely use it in place of your Outlook for both logging and responding to mails/issues. So you're not jumping between Outlook (or whatever your mail client is) and your Helpdesk system.
The folks who write it (Fog Creek Software) use it themselves and you have the option of both a hosted solution, or you can get it installed on your own server (Windows or Linux).
There are plenty of keyboard shortcuts to help productivity and the ability to define your own snippets (key shortcuts that get expanded into boilerplate text) is inspired.
There's a 45 day free trial,I'd suggest taking it for a spin and seeing what you think.
Not got any direct experience with WD, but I do have a QNAP NAS that offers a similar sort of facility.
However I've ignored it completely in favour of using the proper VPN option provided by my home router. Fire that up on the laptop or phone and as far as the device is concerned, it's at home.
I moved from BE to Plusnet shortly before the $ky purchase of BE was announced.
We've not had any downtime (running on one of their FTTC connections) and we're using our own router. The ISP supplied one is kept for fallback/trouble shooting purposes only.
One the few occasions I've had to contact their tech support, they've been helpful, easy to get hold of and straightforward.
Why are Plusnet users not using the Plusnet provided routers?
Simples, because I wanted something that was more capable and had gigbit ports, oh and would support VPN access and could be easily moved to something like DD-WRT if required.
As for using an ISP's own DNS servers. I stopped doing that years ago when I got my first USB Fujitsu ADSL modem courtesy of Pipex.
In my experience, ISPs DNS servers were usually a point of failure at the most inopportune times. OpenDNS was/is my preferred choice but YMMV.
The PN router is retained as a backup device and for troubleshooting if my ASUS goes belly up.
For the record, my WAN side access is disabled in addition to WAN side ping responses.
I'm doing this with my Asus RT-N16 which although only supporting 2.4Ghz Wireless N connections, allows me to VPN to the interwebs via my home connection.
I've got it setup on the iPhone, the W7 lappies and the Nexus 7 as well. A doddle to setup.
If I want to do anything like online banking over an untrusted wifi connection, on goes the VPN.
"Ever thought of going into advertising?"
I do wish people wouldn't post misleading rubbish about the distance selling regs.
Contrary to some opinions here, the return of an item in original packaging in a condition fit for resale is *not* a requirement of the regs. That doesn't stop some retailers from trying it on but that's the point when a trip to the following site will come in handy:
@JimmyPage, as somebody with an apostrophe in their surname and a reasonable knowledge of the website innards (having supported a few), it never ceases to amaze how many fall at such a seemingly simple hurdle.
I remember looking at some ASP code years ago and thinking "why the hell are they building the SQL on the fly, why don't they just use parameters instead?"
The other benefit is that it makes you less vulnerable to wonderful things like SQL injection, pause for obligatory xkcd reference:
Oh and when it comes to validating input items on a webpage, please either stop the user from entering the verboten characters in the first place, or even better, make the validation interactive so it checks the field as you're populating it and either shows a cheery green tick or a red frowny face along with a suitably annoying message.
I don't want to get to the bottom of something that resembles a morttgage application only to find out then that my chosen username is taken or that you can't find my fscking address!
Any website that has hacked me off to that extent is simply left behind whilst I Google an alternative that does give a stuff about the UI and HCI side of things.
What else to expect from something as backwards as Delphi? Pining for the days of Turbo Pascal is like pining for the days of Lisp Machines, only without sense and good taste.
If' you're going to have a little rant, please get your facts straight. Delphi evolved from Turbo Pascal but it is a distinct product and a very sophisticated one at that. Please enlighten us as to why you regard Delphi as backward? Do you have direct development experience with it that you can share or is it just that it's non MS and therefore can't be any good?
From experience I can tell you that when it was introduced, it brought features that gave the competition a swift kick to the happy sack, including but not limited to:
A WYSIWYG menu editor for designing your forms. The sad equivalent in VB3 was truly pitiful.
Decent object orientated support in a strongly typed language (Object Pascal).
Support for building applications as a single EXE. No more DLL's to fling around the place if you preferred not to.
His tweet was inciting the mob
Really? The massed fellow travellers/self loading cargo were all avidly glued to Twitter to see what they should do as they passed through the airport? FFS, give me a break.
What exactly was he inciting them to do? Complain, or for those that were British, just sort of grumble a bit or tut under their breath?
Oh and for those of you pointing out the section of Squeezyjet's conditions of carriage that allows them to deny boarding, the most relevant bit I can find is:
19.2.7 You have used threatening, abusive or insulting words to, or have behaved in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner towards, a member of easyJet staff, crew or Airport Staff or a fellow passenger;
From what I can make out, the comment he tweeted was directed at the company, not at any particular individual (eg staff member, crew or Airport Staff). As the company is a legal entity in its own right, it doesn't fall within the definition of individuals given above who may be insulted/abused and cannot therefore be relied upon as grounds to deny boarding.
Oh and for the individual who downvoted the funeral story, you weren't the SG on the desk that day were you?
Any provider of goods or services has the right to refuse service to anyone being dick.
Really? Kindly cite the relevant legislation or portion of Easyjet's conditions of carriage that basically state they can deny boarding if they don't like what you're posting about the company.
Take your time...
First off, +1 for the Free Speech bit. Unless he's breaking any laws (in which case you should involve Plod) then he has every right to criticise as much as he wants.
My own experience with Squeezyjet was similarly crap. A family group including myself were checking in for a flight from Gatwick to Ireland for a funeral and rocked up to the check-in desk at some ungodly hour of the morning.
Me: "Good morning, we're on the "oh whatever it was" to Dublin this morning".
Squeezyjet Gimp:"Good morning sir, hmm, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you this morning" (wink,chortle)
Me: "Really, and just what might that be?" (starting to get annoyed)
SG:"Well sir, I'm sorry to have to tell you that not everybody will be able to get on the flight today!" (pause for effect, then laughs).
Me: (fixing him with a Paddington Bear stare): "I don't find that especially amusing, particularly as we're all travelling to a funeral today. Are you denying boarding to any of our group?"
SG : (looking suitably crestfallen): "No sir."
Me:"Good, then perhaps you'd like to give your pathetic attempt at humour a break and get on with what you're supposed to be doing which is checking us in for the flight, if that's not too much trouble?".
I didn't feel sorry for him at the time and I still don't. Some things just aren't funny and boy did he pick the wrong group of passengers to joke with about denying boarding .
Have a +1 from me for the Poppies reference.
I will now have "Radio P.W.E.I" bouncing around in my head for the rest of the day.
Grikath, have an upvote from me for working in a Pratchett reference.
Strictly speaking though, I think you'll find that there would be 3 states the cat would be in.
Alive, dead and bloody furious.
Well hey thanks for that constructive addition to the ongoing discussion at hand. There's nothing like a bit of name calling to elevate the proceedings.
Did you have anything to add such as direct experience of either ISP?
For myself, I didn't want to go near $ky because of their fiasco with half speed FTTC connections. I value the reliability of my connection and wanted an ISP with round the clock support who know their stuff and I wouldn't get fleeced to call if there was a problem.
Thus far I've had to engage Plusnet support on one occasion and that was to confirm that what I thought was an outage was actually scheduled maintenance by BT at the exchange (it was during the wee hours so I wasn't inconvenienced per se, just twitchy if it wasn't working by the time the Missus surfaced and had to access her office stuff).
Tip for the day, find out the support contact number(s) and the URL for your ISP's status page and save them both on your phone before you have an outage. Oh, and if they offer a email/twitter/RSS option for status notifications get signed up to those as well. ISPs should really make that part of their signup process.
I too recently jumped ship from Be, as luck would have it shortly before the $ky announcement.
Had several happy years with them without a single days outage. Despite the connection not being that fast (typically syncing at around the 12Mbit mark) they provided the service they promised to and had excellent support for the very odd occasion it was required.
The network migration was actually reasonably painless, the trickiest part was the reflashing of their router which otherwise hadn't been touched in terms of firmware since joining. I seem to recall it involved a direct cable connection with a static IP address and the sacrifice of a small mammal to the deity of your choosing.
They never really got their fibre plans together (which makes sense now) so once the CAB at the end our road was finally Infinity enabled earlier this year, we jumped over to Plusnet and are enjoying the 76Mbit connection hugely. This happened literally a week or so before the $ky announcement which when I read it, I recall thinking "Phew!".
Now,normally Be would ask you to return their Speedtouch router after leaving, but when I called them post migration to confirm where to send it back to, they advised "no need to do that any more sir since the recent announcment regarding $ky".
A class act, even to the end and a shining example of how to treat customers.
You know, even installing 95 was almost an exercise in self abuse.
My second job involved a stack of IBM Thinkpads (way before Lenovo) and a frequent need to reinstall 95 on them due to dipstick salesdroids frequently fscking things up.
My best friends were a stack of Win 95 install disks taller than a Pringle's tin and a lot of patience. See, even if you had a Win 95 CD, from what I remember, once you'd reached a certain point in the install process, it would reboot and start the install in anger. At that point you no longer had a working CD driver (had to re add it later from what I recall). Bit hazy on the exact details as I think my brain has glossed over some of the more horrific details in self preservation.
Our finest hour was one twunt who breezed in on the Friday afternoon of a Bank Holiday weekend with a fscked machine in tow. Said numpty had let his offspring loose on the machine (allegedly!) and it now needed a rebuild. We enquired if it needed to be done before the Bank Holiday and were firmly told "No".
I headed off early and was half way home when I got a call from my boss:
"Hi, you remember that fscked machine you saw earlier today?"
"The one that we're going to rebuild next week?"
"Yes, that's the one, he needs it before close of business today"
"Really? That's not what he said when he came in earlier."
"Yeah, I know. Sorry about that"
So what did we do? Well, there was one guy in our team left in the office but he wasn't a PC guy, his specialty was AS/400s and all that went with them.
Having been through the 95 install process so many times, I told him to grab the Win 95 install discs from our secure storage location (bottom drawer of that storage cabinet opposite your desk mate), grab a coffee and get comfortable.
I then proceeded to walk him through the complete installation process over the phone and the end result was one fully functioning Thinkpad with 95 onboard.
The salesdroid was happy and so was Boss. I was happy I hadn't had to drive back to the office and bugger up my weekend.
Have an upvote from me for mentioning RiscOS. Happy days with my Archimedes A410 at Uni followed by a RiscPC when I graduated.
RiscOS wasn't perfect, it had its flaws (the multi tasking was cooperative so naughty apps could make it unhappy) but some of the stuff was genuinely jaw dropping such as the realtime font anti aliasing that made documents look good on the cuboid multisync monitors of the day. Oh yeah and the same outline fonts used for screen display were used for printing as well.
The RiscOS task manager was quite something as well. You want a RAM disc of a certain size? Sure, click on the relevant section and drag a slider to set how much memory to dedicate to it. Bam, one RAM disc created dynamically.
The thing I found most ironic was that I knew far more about what was going on under the hood in the PCs I was working with commercially than I ever did with my Acorn machines because they just worked.
Oh sweet Lord I've just had an awful flashback to those 3.11 days!
Wheezy Compaq 386 machines on a token ring network in my first ever job. The pain that Autoexec.bat and Config.sys imposed upon you when trying to get stuff running on the machines.
I can still recall when the first Dell 486 hit the office. Suddenly the software build task that used to take 90 minutes for a single DLL, now took about 10 mins or less. We were suitably impressed.
Not the good old days, just the old days.
> If you can design and code in Pascal, moving on to C/C++ should not be too hard.
I'd agree wholeheartedly with that statement, at least where C is concerned. Our Comp Sci course at Exeter (great scrumpy BTW) spent the bulk of the first year programming module teaching us about classic stepwise refinement, top down analysis and illustrating how to code such things in Pascal (I'd previously learnt Pascal at school) with all the strongly typed variables & nicely setup data structures one would expect.
At the end of the first year they then proceeded to teach us C in a week, on the basis that having learnt about such wonders as functions, loops, data structures and I/O, applying that to another language was (in large part) about the differences in syntax and system libraries for doing useful things. It worked surprisingly well and when I graduated, my first development gig (I landed the job a day before graduating) was working on a CASE tool written in C using SQL under Windows.
C++ is quite different with respect to the object orientated approach it takes which did take some time to get my head around. I think it represents quite a different way of looking at things if you've started with something classic such as Pascal and/or C. I will say this, none of the commercial systems I've seen that were implemented in C++, did so to make what I'll call "good" use of the object orientated features.
Maths as already covered elsewhere was v. important. As the department didn't have its own lecturers, we had our Maths lectures with the other engineering & science students.
I viewed the course as a good introduction to a number of topics that were useful to build upon after graduation. I was lucky in so much as a school friend in the year ahead of me went to Exeter and took the same course. I was able to get the lowdown on how good/bad it was from him and also visited for a couple of days to get a better idea of the campus lifestyle etc.
A lot of software for one number?
I don't know if you've followed the show since the start but the point of the one number a week (and it's not always just one number either) is that this is all the machine is supposed to be able to communicate to the main characters without detection or arousing suspicion.
So far as it's government overloads are concerned, it's happily detecting acts of terrorism and passing them the details although the show wisely stays away from going into much detail about such acts.
Not sure how the VPN or UnoTelly option would count as cheating, but the reality is that services such as Netflix etc are beholden to the rights owners/content providers as you mention.
The days when content will be routinely licensed on a global basis are not yet with us, in the meantime it's a case of making the best use of what's already available to us.
Only having experience with Netflix, I will say I was and remain very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the image via the PS3 and ATV2. Our internet connection originally ran at around 11Meg downstream (now 76Meg thanks to FTTC) and I was used to DVDs being upscaled by a broadcast quality scaler (Denon 3930 with the Realta HQV) so Netflix was a real eye opener for me.
Is it perfect? No. But for me its more than good enough that I'm more interested in what I'm watching than trying to see if I can spot banding or chroma upsampling errors.