* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

4702 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

One's Aspire One. Is it done?

I ain't Spartacus
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Linux

One's Aspire One. Is it done?

My nephew has found my Mum's old Acer Aspire One. Which is barely used, as was the fate of many a netbook.

A quick bit of searching found that the OS hasn't been updated since 2009, the last viable Firefox it will run is 7, and Youtube block versions that old.

I haven't yet come across a forum for users of these things, though I suspect that more searching might do so. As I know they had lots of techy love, and techies like to keep old stuff going. I met an old friend last month, who is still using (with many eBay trips for spare parts) my old Sony Ericsson P800 (great phone), which I gave to him in about 2004/5. It was a very nice nostalgic feeling to play with the old thing.

Anyway, any quick thoughts on the best Linux to chuck on this to give it a new lease of life would be much appreciated. The nephew is 8. So if there's a version that replaces Linpus and gives a more limited UI that's easy to use - I'm very tempted.

Otherwise thoughts on whether to go Mint, some flavour of Ubuntu or whatever would be useful.

I last used UNIX in 1994, but I'm sure I can catch up.

Thankyou for your attention, please now return to your Friday afternoon beers.

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Grim-faced cosmonaut in ISS manual docking nail-biter

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Re: How Dare He!

That smile at the camera thing isn't new. A friend has a book about photography - and it talks about the etiquette and expectations of being photographed, and how that changes the results.

One of his examples is a picture of a woman standing on a beach, with a big smile on her face, but at her feet is the body of her husband who's just died of a heart attack. Someone took the picture, and she just automatically smiled for the camera. Presumably if she'd just bumped him off, she'd have done a better job of hiding her emotions...

Or there's the pictures of the troops returning from the evacuation at Dunkirk. Again lots of them smiling and waving to the camera. But the ones they weren't aware of show them looking like shit, as you'd be if you'd just lost a huge battle, retreated for a week and then been stuck on a beach under constant air attack for another one, only to then have to wade out to a small ship and get evacuated - all while still under constant aerial assault.

Also evidence from a lot of the troops was that they felt ashamed of themselves, and many expected to be booed on their return, not cheered. So they weren't really in a smiling mood.

Anyway, if you smile all the time, people will wonder what you're up to.

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Man faces 37 years for sarcastic post insulting royal dog

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I enjoy the idea that there's no english word for lingua franca, even though the global lingua franca is now english...

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Help! What does 'personal conduct unrelated to operations or financials' mean?

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Devil

Re: Most likely

Look, when we said we were a family friendly company, we didn't mean that!

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Windows XP spotted on Royal Navy's spanking new aircraft carrier

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I'd have expected Naval computers to run SeaP/M.

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Old jet bits, Vader's motorbike gear, sonic oddness: Hats off to Star Wars' creative heroes

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Congratulations on mentioning the sound design.

I channel-hopped to a film the other day (ah yes, the 70s King Kong film), where the goodie walks across a big tree trunk that's been laid over a ravine. The sound effects of his footsteps were of a man in a very echoey room, walking across a polished floor. I presume they were on a budget and got rushed. I found it strangely jarring.

Not that Star Wars exactly had much of a budget. But the sound was consistently excellent. And iconic. I also remember really enjoying the nice sounds, even more than the visuals, when playing Tie Fighter, and whichever the FPS game was in the late 90s.

In general the sets were also amazing. Particularly as it wasn't a big budget production. Although I'd quibble with the realism thing on one major point. Space is dangerous, and I presume they're using artificial gravity - but surely the designs should be a bit more fail-safe. So maybe smaller rooms. Although at least in the Star Wars universe they've managed to invent the humble seat belt, something that seems to have been lost in the intervening time between now and Starfleet getting going. Is it because they don't want the Klingons to call them sissies?

Also, why do people insist on designing their space stations with lethal multiple-storey drops scattered about all over the place. And very few guard rails. No high-vis marking on the edges of steps (or lethal 15 storey drops). I guess Vader got annoyed with all the Health & Safety types - I can't imagine anyone long survivng the utterance of, "Lord Vader, you have failed your compliance testing"...

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Electrician cuts wrong wire and downs 25,000 square foot data centre

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Ah yes, I still do this with the Legionella regs.

Oh, you don't want to bother with a risk assessment? Sure, that's OK. You remember the Barrow-in-Furness case don't you? Oh yes, she was acquitted of manslaughter. After 4 years, a retrial, a couple of hundred grand of legal costs and a £70,000 fine.

People tend to go a bit silent on me after I say this. But it often has the desired effect.

In the Barrow-in-Furness clusterfuck the council replaced the engineer in charge of their pool with an architect. Who knew nothing about water quality. So she apparently sacked the legionella testing contractors, as she didn't know why they were spending this money. Controlling the water quality in swimming pools and cooling towers is a bugger of a job - whereas architects are best left to draw pretty pictures.

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One-armed bandit steals four hours of engineer's busy day

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Re: Epson

I filled my car up in Epson once. Never again! I had to sell my house to pay the bill.

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Horrid checkbox download bundlers drop patch-frozen Chrome

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Re: Microsoft Online Reputation Management are hard at work today....

CAPS LOCK,

I presume you're an unpaid reputation manager for Linux. The problem is that if you come across as a smug self-satisfied arse, that what you're achieving is to manage to reduce the reputation of Linux. Which would be a shame.

Linux is great. Windows is also great. Lots of people were very nice about Windows 7. 8, not so much, but I happen to think 10 is quite nice. For those who disagree, 7's still around.

This is a problem about scummy vendors installing more software than you asked for. Which would be equally possible with Linux. Obviously in a lot of cases this is user-error, in that they're installing stuff they shouldn't trust. But there's also Oracle and Adobe doing it, who should bloody well know better. And of course Google are the ones paying Adobe to do it, with Chrome and their crappy old toolbar.

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Re: Bah! Now with extra unrequested humbug.

I'd love to have seen the anti-virus vendors bin Chrome as malware. It installs itself on people's PCs when they didn't ask for it - therefore in my book it's malware.

I admit it would be childish, and who wants to get into a pissing contest with Google anyway.

I noticed a few years ago that loads of people who don't even know what a browser is ("I click on the blue E to get to Google...") had Chrome installed. And I noticed that it was getting dodgily downloaded all over the place, along with that bloody Google toolbar. But I've not seen it do that for a while, until I went to download Flash last week, and saw that it had replaced McAfee Security Scan as their ticked checkbox crapware of choice again.

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Today's exoplanet weather: 1,000°C, glass rain, 8,700 km/h winds

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This place is the anti-Skegness. Sure, there's a screaming gale off the sea and it's pissing it down. The difference is that the precipitation is warm - thus eliminating the risk of freezing to death. You'll need some pretty good sunblock but your deckchair will still blow over. I bet the nightlife is better than Skeggy too...

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Your taxes at work: Three hours driving to turn on politician's PC

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Re: Phone support...

Oh God. Don't mention the P word!

My Mum hands me her Macbook because the printer won't work. OK, what's your password? What password? The one for the laptop? What one for the laptop? Try guessing the three other passwords of hers I already know from fixing her email/phone/whatever - which she also always forgets the password to.

I once spent half an hour on the phone to various BT 1st line support staff who simply wouldn't deviate from their damned script - setting up a friend's Dad with a WiFi router, back before they came free with broadband. BT had managed to set up his account without an email, so I couldn't reset it - and he'd lost the paperwork - and their indian call centre staff either couldn't or wouldn't understand the problem, and kept trying to get me to reboot the PC with that horrible USB router. In the end I gave up and found some dodgy software online that unhashed the password in XP - I hope XP protected other passwords better...

Still I was given a couple of bottles of wine. Which was nice. Then I was rather embarrassed by a knock on the door a few days later, and I got a delivery of a 15 bottle case from the local wine merchant. It was quite nice stuff, so they probably spent as much (or more) on me as paying someone. And I was perfectly happy to do it for the original contracted price of a cuppa and bacon sarnie while I worked.

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Why fucking green and fucking orange Arrrggghhh!!!!

What is the most common colour blindness clash? Oh yes, green and red. So why the bloody hell must these people insist on having one light that changes colour. As I said above: Aaarrrgghhh!!!!!

I believe it's something like 8% of men who suffer from some sort of colour blindness problem. It's not even 1% in women - presumably as they all took the precaution to get 2 lots of X chromosomes.

I sometimes have to resort to going and getting a green thing to hold up against the status light, so I can tell what colout it is. When it would be so much easier to use blue and red, or blue and green. Or, in fact, almost any other possible colour combination you can think of. Even easier - just have two lights.

In my case it's the result of a different visual impairment anyway. So while I'm on the subject I'd love people to print things a bit bigger so I don't have to carry a magnifying glass around whenever I have to fix something. Because 6pt black writing on a black background is always so easy to decipher...

My leccy tripped last night, and it was nice to see that someone thinks that 10pt type is the appropriate size to put on a box that's going 7 foot high in a dark cupboard - and may well be viewed by torchlight. Thanks for that one guys!

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Where's Worstall/Weekend Edition?

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Sorry to see you go Tim. Your pieces were interesting, well argued and fun to read. As well as sparking lots of good discussion afterwards. So I'd have thought you generated your fair share of clicks. On the other hand, I broadly agree with you on economics, and maybe El Reg needed someone from the other side as well, to not annoy the more "lefty" readership?

Anyway I accidentally discovered you were on Forbes, while reading Frances Coppola about Eurozone v Greece round 15, in June. There don't seem to be many comments on there though. No commentard bunfight to join in.

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Mutant space germs threaten International Space Station

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Re: Start treating the ISS as what it is...

Everything can be sterilised - you just need to nuke it from orbit...

Two problems with this statement.

Firstly, what happens if the item you're trying to nuke is already in orbit? Surely you now need to take off and nuke it from the next solar system. It's the only way to be sure.

Secondly, I've seen the documentary Godzilla. Sometimes when you nuke things, they just get bigger, and angrier.

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Ex-Microsoft craft ale buffs rattle tankard for desktop brewery

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Re: Will it fit...

Bread makers are great. Mostly not as good as doing it manually, but still not at all bad. Although weighing, mixing and kneeding the dough only takes ten minutes, you've then got to be around for the next 3-5 hours, depending on what you're making. Well unless you're doing soda bread, or things like pita or naan.

The most convenient bread is sourdough - as it takes longer to rise, so you can make the dough before bed, and cook it the next morning. If you try that with normal breads, the yeast overgrows and they go bitter.

Soup with fresh bread is a lovely Saturday lunchtime treat. Or set the timer on the machine, and wake up to the smell of just made bread. I've got a teasmade as well, so can wake up to a cuppa.

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Little bang for the Big C? Nitro in the anti-cancer arsenal

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Fight, fight, fight!

It's funny, because I know someone who works in cancer research, and the area she's involved in is how to bugger up the blood vessels that supply the tumour, and stop it from growing any more.

And then along come this lot, with their take one stick of dynamite every 4 hours to help the cancer get more blood and spoil the whole thing...

It's amazing just how many different areas of promising research are going on, and how many improvements are made to various treatements every year. As well as new ones coming on stream.

I'm sure we'll never "cure" cancer, it's a natural process after all. But I'd imagine that things will continue to improve, and I suspect at an increasing rate too - given the multiple approaches under investigation.

But remember, only one person can live forever, and that's Connor MacLeod.

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Support scammers target Mac fanbois

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Re: Linux ....

Don't worry, I'm far more crusty than that. I was born in the decade of flares, brown Austin Allegros and Roger Whittaker children's LPs. Which I was reminded of only yesterday when I found 'I can see a nasty spider' on Youtube.

So the year of the bug perhaps.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Not had a Mac call yet

I know a guy in his 70s who fell for it, and the only thing that saved him from computer doom was not knowing his Apple password.

What's most annoying is that I'm around to fix all his technology problems. So why the hell he'd talk random bastards he doesn't know who want paying to fix problems I'll do for a cup of tea or some fish and chips...

He lives a street away from an excellent chippy. My tech support is always available for people with those kinds of advantages.

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Re: Linux ....

I was born in the year of OS/2.

But I'm just warped...

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Bacon as deadly as cigarettes and asbestos

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Can you get bacon and egg muesli?

I'll have the full English rabbit food please.

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Re: May be so...

Chewing asbestos, on the other hand, is quite delicious.

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Nippy, palaver and cockwomble: Greatest words in English?

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Re: Spoon

Lots of words are like that. So Rowan Atkinson can do wonders with the single syllable that is "Bob".

Our family used to foster a girl with autism, and she liked to use words just for the sound of them. It's something lots of children do, but she did it with more dedication.

The absolute relish with which she pronounced the final "t" in toast was a thing to behold. She also loved to draw out over-enunciate "basically" and "absolutely" (back to the lovely oooh sound there).

And then the aggressive "K" sound in buckets and baskets - so she had a little speech in the same way Dustin Hoffman did in Rain Man with "whose on first" - except in her case it wasn't when she was nervous, but when angry or upset.

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On which subject, I rather like the sound of the word (phrase?) rumpy-pumpy.

You can roll the initial R, and then it sort of bounces along. So does one retire to ones rumpus room in order romp and generally engage in rumpy-pumpy?

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I rather like clusterfuck - as sometimes you need a bit of extra emphasis when describing a totally messed up situation. For example, I can find no other way to describe the ongoing disaster that is the Eurozone - where the predicted future problelms have now come to pass, but the political will to centralise that was supposed to solve them has gone away.

Even better, when in fear of filters, or while being polite, you get to use the excellent bowdlerisation: Fustercluck.

Which still manages to convey confusion, but with the added suggestion of headless chickens.

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Slander-as-a-service: Peeple app wants people to rate and review you – whether you like it or not

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This reminds me of the DISC analysis that a corporate bullshiter consultant wanted to put everyone through. I'd not heard of that one, but it's similar to Myers Briggs, in that there's no scientific basis for it - but it's an amazing tool for sorting people into handy personality types so you can patronise them properly.

Apparently if you retake the test a couple of days later, 50% of the time you'll get a totally different result.

Anyway the website of the company what do it has this little blurb about why the test is great, and not at all sinister, oh no. And it says something like, if people are against this test, it's probably because they feel they've got something to hide. Nice!

Still, at least they're just greedy and incompetent. They're not actively harmful, unlike this charming new website.

Sometimes I think we should have special cases were lawyers are banned in disputes, and the decision is completely down to the weight of numbers on each side, and how many iron bars they happened to have brought along. The owners of the site might find themselves slightly outnumbered...

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Re: Antisocial Media

Antisocial Media

The next big thing.

In the week that Facebook announced their dislike button is finally going to happen too, you bastard.

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Lies from VW: 'Our staff acted criminally but board didn't know'

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Re: Dieselgate

Annihilator,

So are you suggesting it should have been called Iranwatergate instead of Irangate? That's the first scandal I can remember to get the "gate" ending.

In which case should this scandal not be called Dieselwatergate?

Or should we go fully compound? Hence it's now called:

Dieselpigtaxhackcelebplebsachsclimatecamillanippledianairanwatergate

If there's another scandal at the Watergate Building, then the internet will probably explode.

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Re: Implications

No, because what is paid is determined exclusively by performance in the laid down tests. In the tests determined by the authorities, the cars produced what they did.

Simon Hobson,

Obviously I haven't read the test spec - but I don't think your argument stands up. Otherwise they wouldn't be in trouble.

It's obviously true that the test is different to real-world conditions. And you can also tune your engine to meet the tests, in a way that it won't in real driving. But that's different to running in a specifically designed "test mode", that the engine doesn't run in at any other time (other than when software defects it's on a rolling road). In the first case the test could be changed to make it more like real-world conditions, and your point would be valid. But in the case of actively defeating the test, then VW are in trouble - as is currently happening - unless they can find a nice technicality, but I'm sure their lawyers would have come up with that already if they could.

The other problem for VW is that they have 2 government tests to pass. One on emissions of NOx, and one on emissions of CO2 (which obviously relates to fuel consumption). The "test mode" to pass one test means that they then do worse on the other. And it's unlikely you can get away with having it both ways. You have to run the car in the mode that satisfies the NOx test (or you're not legally allowed on the roads), and that makes you perform worse in the other, such that you go up a band (or several) in the CO2 emissions road tax.

I presume one solution will be that they change the car's software on recall, and then pay compensation to drivers on the fuel consumption and road tax. Or they retro-fit the urea devices that other diesels use to cut emissions of NOx - if that's actually possible, and doesn't also have fuel-consumption implications.

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Re: Implications

Dan 55,

The tax is CO2 based, so probably not. Unless the fix raises CO2 emissions?

I believe the reason for the cheating on the NOx tests was that running the engine in that non-polluting mode cost at least 5% extra in fuel consumption. Hence the reason for doing it in the first place. They can run the engine cleaner, but that's a one-off test everyone must pass so nobody cared about. Whereas people do buy based on fuel consumption figures.

The weird thing is that this is a pretty big risk to take for only 5% fuel consumption. I've not seen any proper figures, only "about 5%" somewhere, so I imagine the difference is actually higher.

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Scotsman cools PC with IRN-BRU, dubs it the 'Aye Mac'

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Re: Sod the Irn Bru

Neil Barnes,

I used to love dandelion and burdock. Going to my Nan's for tea, only having to eat a token sandwich before moving on to the important matter of Mr Kipling's French Fancies and Cherry Bakewells. Not to mention the Jaffa Cakes. Although I'll not forget the taste of crab paste in a hurry...

But then I had some recently. And it coats your teeth with a layer of fur. It makes Coke seem healthy in comparison. I seem to remember thinking Irn Bru was awful, but haven't had it in years.

The oddest pop I had was in Austria. It was garlic flavoured lemonade.

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Re: pronounced “Iron Brew”?

I used to know a Glaswegian welder, living in exile in the home counties. I don't know why people had trouble with understanding him. Until he got excited. At which point only dogs could hear him, and only the Scottish ones work out what he was on about.

But not as unholy as a friend's Mum's accent. She's from southern Spain, and married a Glaswegian. She learned her english from him. Glaswegian with a strong spanish accent is interesting. I'd love to hear him speak spanish though.

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Robots, schmobots. The Rise of the Machines won't leave humanity on the dole

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Re: However...

Remember robots are being designed and built by giant companies.

once they achieve full AI they wont rise up and kill us, they will hold meetings to discuss the new paradigm in light of the companies synergistic mission statement going forward.

Skynet will then begin to evolve at an exponential rate - but only in the rate at which it can generate Powerpoint presentations.

An excellent post. And now I feel a lot less worried.

On the other hand, being stuck inside the Matrix is going to be boring as hell...

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Apple's iPad Pro: We're making a Surface Pro WITH A STYLUS over Steve Jobs' DEAD BODY

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Re: Stylus is a bit understated

It's hard to say. Most of the drawing in that video is notable by the completely alien nature of the way they're doing it. Holding the wrist at an unatural angle in order to not touch the screen with any part of the hand, other than the sylus tip. Which may actually come naturally to designery and artistic types, but is bloody uncomfortable when writing. On the other hand, it was all about the art, and didn't mention handwriting recognition.

The bit where they showed simultaneous input was done with the other hand.

There was one guy drawing at the end, who had his hand at what I felt was a natural angle, with fist rested on the screen. But I couldn't tell if he was hovering it above the screen or actually touching. So it's hard to say.

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Re: Stylus is a bit understated

I've wanted a proper stylus on my iPad for years. And have been holding out on the next upgrade, wondering if I should go for a Samsung Note of some description, stick with the current iPad 3 for a few more years, or just say sod-it and go for a cheapy 'Droid. The 3 is significantly heavier than the newer stuff, and I use it for long periods of time. Microsoft's Surface is starting to look tempting here too, but doesn't have the apps - and I've got a PC for doing serious stuff.

But they've apparently released a tablet with sylus that doesn't do palm rejection? Seriously? How the hell are you supposed to use it? Wacom have been doing this for 15 years now! Surely Apple can afford a license?

I don't want to draw, well I do, but have all the artistic talent of a cluster of colourblind hedgehogs, in a bag. But it might be fun to give a drawing tool to the kids. I want to write text. For which a stylus is perfect on a tablet form factor, and at least twice as fast as onscreen keyboard input. It was on my old HP Touchsmart 10 years ago, should be even faster now. That had palm rejection and ran Vista tolerably fast, and only cost £600. Back when a useable laptop started at £450. I don't think I'm asking for the moon on a stick here.

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WinPhone community descends into CANNIBALISM and WOE

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Maybe it's a marmite OS. But I'd say it is very good. Particularly for the low marketshare. I set my Mum up with hers, and she's barely asked a question on how to use it. There's no way that would be true of Android, which can be very confusing at times.

Win Phone is still "unfinished". There are a few rough edges they bloody well ought to have ironed out by now. But it's much better at handling contacts and emails than the iPhone. Or stock Android. I'm aware that with 'Droid you can always find another app out there, although that can be frustrating as there are so many to choose from. I remembe porting my sister-in-law's stuff between Android phones, and I think I had to download 6 different apps, just to move her text messages across. 4 didn't work properly (all had 4 star reviews), and of the 2 that did, one only did MMS and the other only did SMS. That was 2.3 though, I hope that Android has improved in that area by now.

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As McAfee runs for US President – we ask a crucial question: Will Reg readers back him?

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Re: The rug and the wingnut

Johnson really ought to run with Trump. He's got enough hair for both of them. Perhaps he could have his combed over Donald's bald spot?

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Re: Nah

Still better than President Norton though...

Who'd probably paint the White House yellow.

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Re: The rug and the wingnut

Boris Johnson seems positively normal in comparison to Trump. He should still get a proper haircut though. Does he do his with garden shears? Also, in Boris' case, the buffoonery is a smokescreen to hide that he's a very bright chap, and he doesn't appear to be a rude arsehole either.

Although Johnson apparently really does talk like that, even under provocation. He came across a mugging a few years ago, charged towards the attackers, still on his bike, and shouted, "clear off you oiks!"

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NASA reveals secret 1970s SPACE PANTS

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Re: Branding

Ah, but who cares. Product quality control is very important. But it's also seen as such. And is quite easy to control, as you've got a few departments in a few design offices and factories to manage.

Ensuring that the logo is at an angle of exactly 19° on the other hand... Well let's just say it's much harder to persuade the whole company staff to give much of a damn. In my corporate days I requested a copy of the logo to put on a new invoice, that was going out to our suppliers so we could claim volume rebates. I was rather surprised to receive a 19 page document explaining how to use the 3 or 4 different logos I could choose from, depending on background colour. And reminding me in the strongest possible terms that the logo must be displayed at the all important 19° angle!

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No, Siri – I said PAWN stars! New Apple TV gets voice, touch control

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Re: "And, critically, no Amazon Prime Video"

I don't think's fair to blame Apple for this one. I think it's a mixture of things, with a big dollop of blame for Amazon. With music and books they decided to be platform agnostic. Sure, you could buy their kindle, but you didn't have to - it would work on most devices. But with video they have an iPad app, that they deliberately seem to have chosen to block AirPlay, so you can't send piccies via your Apple TV. Similarly, I have a Google Chromecast. Subbed to Amazon Prime to check out what interesting video was around - and found they'd disabled the ability to forward that to the telly. Even when you do use the Beta option that Google provide, using the Chrome browser on a desktop.

There's a whole load of interlocking agreements, that seem to make having one decive to do everything impossible. So it may actually be the content owners being arses - but my suspicion is that it's at least partly Amazon trying to drive sales of their Kindle Fire tablets and their own set-top sticks and boxes.

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'A word processor so simple my PA could use it': Joyce turns 30

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Re: Them's were the days ...

It looks like you're writing a sex scene. Can I help with that?

[insert text]She caressed his laptop, fondled his slab, and joggled his joystick. His hard drive made louder and louder noises until with a deafening PING! he came up. And was ready to use.[/insert text]

...I'll get my coat. The long dirty brown one please, with the suspicious stains...

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It came with proper manuals too! I got a big one on how to operate it, and how to make a "start of day disk" to save wear and tear on the originals. Nicely done, spiral bound and about an inch thick. And there was also another one, of the same size, which was for BASIC programming. Which I didn't really investigate. I only really used mine to word process. Although I did play Graham Gooch's Test Cricket on it. Oddly, whenever you brought Gooch on to bowl for an over, he'd take a wicket for you, and break a stubborn partnership.

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Hi. Ofcom? My mobe's call quality is crap – but you said it was fine

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Interesting.

I upgraded the dying work iPhone 5 to a Microsoft Lumia 735 a few months back. We stayed on the same contract with EE, now SIM only - so we buy as they break. Whether it's the plastic case, or better design, I now get usable coverage at home. The iPhone would (mostly) get enough signal to sometimes ring or text on the windowsill. But I'd normally have to walk outside, or strangely go into the bathroom and stand by the window, to call.

The Lumia now has signal throughout the flat, but sometimes crackles a lot if I'm not standing near the windows.

It's not turned nothing into perfect, but it's a big difference, working in the same environment. And only cost £150.

I'm obviously out of step with normal users though. For me, it's a phone that sometimes does emails, text and satnav. And I bought it for the excellent address book.

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BORN to HURL: Man's shoulders are head and shoulders above apes, gorillas, chimps etc

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Happy

Re: Poo-flinging antics

That's easy to explain. God really doesn't like us thats why he intelligently designed in all the flaws.

This statement is flatly contradicted by the Pub Landlord. Who through a rigorous chain of deductions demonstrates that the existence of bacon proves that God loves us, and wants us to be happy.

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Well, what d'you know: Raising e-book prices doesn't raise sales

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Historically, import tarrifs were about both. Many governments got most of their revenues from customs duties. Income taxes are relatively new. When governments were controlled by the rich, they didn't tend to want progressive taxation.

On the other hand it's also always been a tool of protectionism. England taxed imports of cloth, to protect the woollen industry, for centuries. I seem to remember it was Thatcher who repealed the law that you were only allowed to wear a cotton shirt if you had an income of more than £100 a year. Although I doubt that got enforced much past the early 18th Century.

Using tarrifs mainly as a tool of trade policy is quite modern.

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Yup. You also get Giffen goods and Veblen goods.

I think the big example of the Giffen good was potatoes in the Irish famine of the 1840s. As the price rose, so did demand. People could now afford fewer luxurie foods, as everything had to go on the staple. So demand goes up as price does, and then down with price, as more people can substitute to nicer things.

You've also got Veblen goods, luxuries like Rolexes, where the high price and exclusivity generate some of the demand. Drop the price and you may lose sales.

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With rent control and minimum wages, I think you'll find that Tim is making the opposite point.

If the price of labour goes up (higher minimum wage), employers will demand less of it. They'll either not do stuff, as it's no longer profitable, or they'll buy machinery to do it instead.

If the price of rents goes down, due to government regulations, then fewer landlords will offer property for rental. In the long term at least. And they'll do less repair work, as they'll be getting less cash. Also, in the case of rent controls, becuase price has dropped, demand will rise. More people will seek to live in a previously expensive (now price controlled) area. After all, it was expensive for a reason.

Of course rents are complex, because one of the biggest problems with the housing market is contrstrained planning, setting limits on what and where we can build. We force price rises by not allowing the market to satsify housing demand. In some cases for good reasons, but in others not so much.

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Devil

Re: I am not an economist

That depends on whether it's a sperm bank. And whether you're making a deposit, or a withdrawal...

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Re: It's really simple

Mayhem,

Before the advent of the ebook, the pupblishers themselves thought that books were pretty much interchangeable. Whenever I read stuff about marketing books, they mostly seemed to say that hardback books sold very few copies, except of the really big authors of course, and that a lot of paperback sales were pretty much down to the cover. Obviously you can't over-stress this. People have favourite authors. But I almost never bought any hardback, unless I was truly motivated to read their latest, and even then, only if it was around a tenner. I'd never pay £20 for a hardback. Most of my books were bought around the £5.99-£7.99 bracket.

Even in the days when I commuted, and got through 2 books a week, there were more good books than I had time to read. And I'm quite choosy. A lot of people apparently do just buy an interesting looking paperback, based on the cover.

But the mistake you make, and the seemingly the publishers too, is to assume that substitution can't happen, because people love a certain author. Firstly people can wait. There might be a sale on, the book isn't going to go away, just because they don't get round to reading it until next year. Secondly people can buy other books. Thirdly, people could spend their commute reading The Economist, or the paper, or playing silly games on their tablets, or listening to music/podcasts. Or as the article suggests, the cheapest leisure activities of all talking to each other or shagging, or even just playing the five knuckle shuffle. Hopefully not on the train though...

This is where you introduce price elasticity. Petrol is quite price inelastic. People regard it as a necesity. If the price goes up, they'll cut other things out of their life in order to keep on using it. Demand will drop a bit, but if there's no easy substitute to driving your car, you'll keep on driving your car. In the long term alternatives may appear, if prices remain consistently high it's true. Water is another one. If the price of your tap water doubled overnight, you'd grumble like hell, but you'd keep on paying it. And you'd use about the same amount. But probably buy fewer books, or cut your Sky sub or something.

Books are part of the leisure market. Not part of the book market - which is only a small sub-set. And leisure spending is very price elastic. Double the price of a cinema ticket and people will buy DVDs, or go the pub or restuarants more. Or buy more books or whatever floats their collective boats. Double the price of your books, and your readers will get cheaper books, or spend more time doing other things.

Seeing as we're talking economics, a monopoly buyer is called a monopsony. So Amazon is getting dangerously close to a monopsony position, and so the publishers are rightly worried. Even resorting to an illegal cartel themselves at one point. The thing is though - they're actually getting less money now, than when the nasty people at Amazon were responsible for pricing. I suspect they're trying to maintain their previous wholesale price, but without printing and distribution costs that amounts to having a quite chunky price rise. Whereas Amazon are presumably trying to maximise their revenues, so want the ebook price below the paper price, so they have to do less expensive stock/shipping stuff. Depending on price elasticity, they may actually make more profit if they sell ebooks for less than paper books. i.e. they should sell more units, for less profits - but costs are the same whether they sell 100 or 100 million.

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