* Posts by Richard Kilpatrick

111 posts • joined 11 May 2007

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Walmart's Jesus Phone no better, no worse

Richard Kilpatrick
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I don't want to lose the source...

But FFS. The Register has become utterly useless in terms of signal to noise. And "Jesus Phone", STILL.

*sighs*

*removes bookmark*

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Linux weaktops poised for death by smartphone

Richard Kilpatrick

Respectfully, bollocks.

I've got a Flipstart - the little machine El Reg loved to ignore - that is a 1.1GHz Pentium M with a 5.6" screen and 512Mb RAM. It's currently using XP SP3 as the OS and it will happily - and usefully - run Lightroom. I've run InDesign on it, though the screen size makes that purely an exercise in "because it can".

The Acer Aspire One has an arguably faster CPU, a more comfortable screen size and keyboard, and cost - at launch - 1/5th of the price.

As for not running MySQL - I've got servers that are a fraction of the grunt. I have no idea what planet the author is originally from, but they've landed here in 2008 apparently with no historical knowledge at all.

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Sanyo intros 'iPhone-on-a-stick' home internet terminal

Richard Kilpatrick
Stop

Odd One Out

1: Jesus Phone

2: The Forth Rail Bridge

3: Margaret Thatcher

4: Windows 7

Answer:

4 - The rest are getting Really Old, Really Fast. Just call it a bloody iPhone and be done with it.

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Mazda takes RX-8 for a spin on 'hydrogen highway'

Richard Kilpatrick

Economy

I used to get 280 miles out of a full tank on my RX8 192. The six-port engines are thirstier, but I had to slow down a bit to eke it out to 300 miles.

However, a 4-port, in a lower state of tune, especially if it's not fuelling the way production EU cars are set up (apparently the Euro IV compliant models run rich to prolong the life of the cat; didn't work, mine failed at 17K) could probably comfortably do 300 miles on a tankful.

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Richard Kilpatrick

News?!

This is hardly news, they did this back when I still owned an RX8 in 2006. Is the news that they've added another station and have therefore driven the car from one to another?

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'Podestrian' risk rising for drivers, warns insurer

Richard Kilpatrick

"Easy target"

Like hell they are. In 16 years of driving I've yet to hit an iPod user.

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Sega to launch PSP beater in 2009

Richard Kilpatrick

Dreamcast

There's a Dreamcast clone which is kinda-portable, the Treamcast.

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Axon takes 100mpg wonder car for a spin

Richard Kilpatrick

Wheel covers

The Citroën ID and DS also had covered wheels. It's not unique to Citroën and not a recent development - spats for rear wheels were a popular design element in the 1930s. The HP suspension also helped with wheel changing.

Every point you can imagine has been made above, but the one I always make is:

Mk II Golf GTi 8v. 1980s (70s, really) tech. Seats 5. 0-60 in 8.5 seconds, 115-121mph top speed.

46mpg. Not "quoted", not "best", but the average I got in my 1989 model. I got 52mpg driving it for economy. And that's not the most aerodynamic car, or particularly light for the time (though it seems positively flyweight now).

I'd like to see a Citroën BX with a suitable diesel; perhaps the new 1.6 110 HDi - and MORE use of plastics, perhaps front wings, aluminium doorskins, and the like. Correctly geared that would probably come close to 80mpg, and unlike the Axon would be capable of seating 5 people and delivering reasonable performance.

One of our cars is an A-class, and I can never understand why Mercedes didn't make that final jump, using the sandwich floor for batteries, and perhaps using more lightweight panels (the front wings, and perhaps the tailgate, are plastic. I'm not sure about the tailgate, but it's a common part to be made of materials other than metal. The packaging is brilliant, the concept sound, but they seem reluctant to do the last bit to make it a genuinely useful city car (quite aside from the fact that a hybrid drive, with CVT and electric motor, would be infinitely better than their automatic gearbox options).

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GM shows off production electric car

Richard Kilpatrick
Go

It's about the smog, AC

No-one is seriously bothered about the overall emissions. If they were, then "buying a new car" would be WAY off the list, and if a car were needed, then "buying an old, efficient, fuel injected car" (like a Mk II Golf GTI) without a catalytic convertor - and maintaining it perfectly - would be a far better option.

However,

Plug in hybrids allow the emissions within cities to be reduced and they pander to people's car usage habits; most people I know drive around 10-20 miles to work and back again and rarely exceed that area of travel (living in the Scottish Borders gave me a skewed idea of distance - 20 miles to the next town - I keep getting places in the Midlands far too early because it's all so close). They eliminate one of the worst traits of modern emissions controls - dreadful fuel economy when cold. The engine need never fire up for the bulk of the car's usage; when it does it'll be when the car is driving on the freeway, where it should warm up quickly (since the load is predictable, to charge the batteries, it may be possible to drastically reduce the emissions by tuning the engine to run very lean in a narrow, optimal rev range) and isn't contributing to the local emissions that present a problem for America's cities.

As an example of the effect a catalytic convertor has on a car - I had a 1993 Volvo 480 with instant readout MPG and a cat, and an older example of the same car. The cat equipped one, on my drive from the village to the town I worked in (3 miles in total, but not ideal for cycling), would return 10mpg until the cat was up to temperature. Which it didn't get to on that drive. The non-cat model had come off the "fast idle" setting after the first mile and have 30mpg.

Now I live somewhere with public transport, I really try very hard to leave my car alone unless it's needed, although it would be far more convenient to drive it to places than spending £2 on a train and another £1.50 on a bus for some more convoluted routes. If I had a plug-in hybrid, I'd be inclined to use it.

Anyone who has visited America knows most cities and towns are not designed for walking. They're designed for car use. The banks are drive-thru. Without massive infrastructure changes, plug in hybrids are the next best thing for short term reductions in pollution, and in states where energy production is "clean" could have a small impact on the environment as a whole.

Of course, making a car like this tends to involve a much greater impact on the environment than a conventional new car, and it may have a shorter useful life given that when the batteries fail it may well have depreciated to the stage to make economic replacement unviable, but it's a brave step - it's a bigger step forward than Toyota made with the Prius. The main failing is that it won't be on sale for some time yet - GM's shouting about new models seems to get earlier and earlier - can you actually buy a Camaro yet?

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Panasonic shows world's smallest DLSR

Richard Kilpatrick

Precious, perhaps, but claiming firsts?

It may be precious to distinguish between SLRs and Live View cameras, but what's the point of having technical terminology if you don't use it correctly?

The end result is not the same, either. You have to use an EVF, which is not remotely accurate for manual focus, or the screen magnified. The provision of an EVF and a detachable lens is the only first it can claim; which is merely simplifying the design over the E330 by eliminating the second CCD and mirror/real viewfinder.

Whilst it may have stabilisation in the lens, do you know that James is wrong in suggesting that the G1 ALSO detects an attempt to photograph fast moving objects? What if you're using an unstabilised lens like the Olympus 7-14mm on an adaptor? The camera is fractionally smaller than the E420, yet loses a true viewfinder and still lacks internal OIS.

It's introducing a new mount, not improving image quality (I seriously doubt the smaller lenses developed for this platform will resolve as well as the Four Thirds lenses already on the market), and not really bringing anything new to the table.

Plenty of other cameras have featured flip and twist or flip/angled LCD screens, such as Sony's Alpha.

The G1 is really a retrograde step from the L1, rather than advancing the bridge camera. Let's see a bridge camera with a good 35-350mm lens and a full frame sensor that delivers decent dynamic range, before cluttering up the "DSLR" market with yet another mount, yet another attempt to cram more pixels into a smaller area.

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Richard Kilpatrick
Dead Vulture

Terminology

If it doesn't have a mirror, then it's not an SLR camera. It cannot be considered a digital SLR regardless of whether or not the lens is removable.

If it's not an SLR, then it's not - by ANY means - the first interchangeable lens digital camera. EPix launched their system using C-mount lenses in 1996, a digital still camera that was not only one of the first true digital cameras as we know them now (rather than the earliest ones which were digital video still caputure devices, or "Field Capture" - technology also integrated into some LaserDisc players of the era), but was also one of the real pioneers of integrated snap-shot digital photography in an era when scanning cameras were about the most useful tech around.

This isn't news - however, I don't recall reading about the Nikon D90, which HAS brought something new to the market, here.

How's that digital photography reporting going, eh?

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Richard Kilpatrick

Whoops, D90 is there.

Aha, I do see a D90 report after all. It fails to emphasise that being able to shoot HD Video on a true DSLR is in fact, a first, as is being able to shoot video at all (though digital camera sensors are employed in HD video cameras like the Red One, and Sigma's DP1 could arguably be called the first camera with a DSLR sensor to shoot video - but it's not a DSLR, it's a compact with an APS-C sensor from the SD14).

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Apple 'niche player' in touchscreen phone biz, says analyst

Richard Kilpatrick

It's all about UI and polish

I've used most platforms available under WM, Symbian and some proprietary ones. Right now I have a Nokia E90, and recently had an Ameo; I've used UIQ on Motorola and LG's Viewty, and tried the Samsung effort. I've never used a Blackberry though.

Not one of them comes close to the speed and user friendly behaviour of the iPhone.

However, I still don't have an iPhone 3G (I have a cracked original one) - because I will not have a contract with O2. They don't allow tethering regardless of handset (and their internet services are limited, they don't like IM or IRC), they're awful to deal with for customer service, and their international rates are insane.

iPhone is brilliant within the realms of technology and reasonable budgets for development and hardware cost. If it were on T-Mobile, I'd actually pay to get one as an upgrade; as it is I'll probably get an 8GB N95.

HTC's handsets would be a lot better if someone other than HTC developed the software side. They make neat hardware, then run them on a mishmash of software that results in them being buggy and unstable.

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Sony PRS-505 Reader e-book

Richard Kilpatrick

Revisionism

Nice editing job on the first line there; we know what was written originally ;)

The key to selling these products really is to bundle real books with electronic copies. Say, buy a book at Waterstones online, pay a trivial amount over the cost of the paper edition, and get the electronic one as a download too.

That will get the bookish types feeling that they still have their 'library' and will wean them off paper slowly. I'd have one right now if I could buy titles that way.

As it is, the official route to new books costs almost as much for the paper-free edition and therefore, is offputting to me.

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EU plans cross border database of rogue motorists

Richard Kilpatrick

Time and fair play...

First: Are they going to be able to get an NIP equivalent (anything which requires the driver of the vehicle to incriminate themselves in exchange for a fixed penalty) to the /first/ contact available within 14 days?

Second: Will they be able to issue this within six months?

Third: If they don't issue the notification within six months, does it then become invalid?

And fair play. I'm sick to death of foreign-registered HGVs which ignore UK laws; maybe finally the UK can get these truck drivers into line. Assuming, of course, there's a copper about to stop them.

Of course, I'd find these things less offensive if we'd just remove one bloated layer of Government and either adopt a fully integrated "United States of Europe" model or tell the EU to get lost. One or the other.

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Beeb readies iPlayer app for Nokia N96

Richard Kilpatrick

iPlayer doesn't work on Mac?

Wow. How on earth did I keep up with the last six months or so of TV, then?

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EA free petrol stunt triggers north London gridlock

Richard Kilpatrick

Motorway fuel economy

Not sure how it works out this way, but my car is more economical at 85 than at 70 (and indeed, it's not great at the oft-quoted "56", either) - at 80, it lowers itself, raises the rear spoiler more, and is in the highest gear - and pulling just under 2,000rpm. It's also a diesel, and as such returns 40+mpg in these conditions compared to the 30ish I got out of a small 1.5 Suzuki when trying not to get squashed by HGVs and Audis in similar situations.

Modern large cars are designed with modern large car driving habits in mind :)

Either way, how much fuel did people use up waiting for their £40 free?

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Ten tweaks for a new Acer Aspire One

Richard Kilpatrick

FlipStart

The little Vulcan FlipStart had the 3G modem designed in right from the beginning... it's a shame they didn't pre-empt this aspect of the marketplace and produce a cheaper, 7" model.

I really don't understand why it's taking so long for SCCs to ship with 3G provision.

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Commodore launches little laptop

Richard Kilpatrick

@Dave

Yes, very enlightening. It doesn't specify the clock speed of that C7, the resolution of the display, the formats handled by the card reader...

What is does clarify is that:

The device is white.

The USB ports are in a stupid place.

FWIW, they may plan to offer it with Linux but are choosing to offer it with XP only for the time being. Not that El Reg is always accurate or even fair (see: FlipStart coverage), but they're only going to be as good as the information they're given when dealing with press released or third-party reports from shows.

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Richard Kilpatrick

Commodore Beige?

WTF? It's clearly white. The white balance on the shot hasn't been corrected for artificial lighting.

Again, price-wise - Acer Aspire One, 1GB/120GB, Linux, £229. 1024 x 600, decent 1.6GHz CPU. Asus machines are also competing on similar levels, as is the MSI Wind.

The Commodore shown here, the Maplin/Elonex machine... they're all exceptionally poor value by comparison.

Joe: I was tempted to stick Sinclair logos on my black Eee 701 ;)

Acorn stuff - well, the brand got snapped up. Make enough noise, I'm sure the current owners will be happy to market a subnotebook running XP on a crippled CPU as well.

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Richard Kilpatrick
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ARGH!

£325. C7M. XP.

Why, dear god, WHY. What is the point of this?! It'll be slow as hell with the cache-crippled VIA CPU and XP, and the Commodore brand isn't even backed up with a comprehensive/well integrated emulator?

What is the point of launching this dreck when there are established, CHEAPER models?!

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MSI intros cut-price Linux mini-laptop

Richard Kilpatrick

@spegru

The Maplin is the same device as the Elonex Onet; a 400MHz, Chinese-MIPS-knockoff powered under-specced device. At £169, with 2GB Storage and 256MB RAM, and 800 x 480 screen, you'd have to have a very good reason for wanting that odd CPU to choose it over the £199, 1.6GHz, 8GB/512MB 1024 x 600 Acer Aspire One.

I cancelled my Elonex orders after the interminable delays in getting the machines out; the money refunded paid for the Aspire and I'm glad I got it, though I got one for my 13 year old son as well, and discovered why the Eee's "protected" Linux partition is so useful - the Aspire needs a fair bit of faffing to recover from inexpert fiddling!

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Windows Mobile 6 blamed for Xperia X1 woes

Richard Kilpatrick

HTC

HTC's WM phones are sub-optimal; the WM part is fine, but the modules like camera, WiFi and voice control (not MS' excellent MSVC) are cheap, unreliable and substandard. A well configured WM phone is a marvelous, versatile thing - HTC do not ship them "well configured"; the Ameo, Universal and Tytn II (the last HTC handsets I've owned or used) all displaying varying levels of frustrating fail.

I can imagine that SE found the X1 to be unstable and if it's HTC built, then the camera will almost certainly be one of the sticking points; Sony's mobile phone cameras are amongst the better examples and if the "flagship" X1 underperforms, then it will look pretty poor.

Why they didn't opt for S60 or UIQ (as in previous high end phones) defeats me. A good, modern UIQ handset would be competing in a very sparse playing field; WM devices are so prevalent you'd need something quite special to justify releasing it.

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Acorn alumni to toast tech pioneer's 30th anniversary

Richard Kilpatrick
Coat

Finally, demand is met!

Yep, that 2004 sales period was a doozy; compared to the Xbox and PS2, the little Electron really FLEW off the shelves!

Perhaps you mean 1983 and 1984? Just... a guess?

Coat is not for me. It's for the author.

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Nokia pays 8 2* years' royalties in advance

Richard Kilpatrick

EPOC over 20 years?

That's quite an accomplishment, no? I thought the first EPOC machines surfaced around 1990 (as a former MC400 user...). Not that I'm unaware that EPOC may have been developed beforehand, but not /much/ beforehand...

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The war on photographers - you're all al Qaeda suspects now

Richard Kilpatrick

Stand out from the crowd

Gitzo Photogear photographer's jacket. Has a giant, flourescent yellow flash on the back (detachable) that says "PRESS" in silver lettering. Also has a huge lightshield hood (to hide your identity, er, I mean, to protect your camera and make the LCD easy to read) and giant pockets that are very padded to hold lenses.

It's also a very good coat.

I long to be stopped by one of these people; I have had a shopkeeper in Selfridges ask if I would stop taking pictures of some attractive salt-pigs. Having finished, I did so; the reasoning that "it wasn't legal for me to do so" was laughed at, having already been told I was perfectly welcome to do so (there is a large, jellybean covered Bull in there that is a great subject with awful lighting).

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Canon EOS 400D digital SLR

Richard Kilpatrick
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@Mike, plus bits.

If thje Register is going to feature more camera reviews... let's get some skilled reviewers, eh?

"You can get some very nice close-up shots with the EOS 400D"

Yes. Being a DSLR, if you spent enough on lenses, you can get some nice far away ones, too. And indeed, better ones than the examples given here.

I know that the camera reviews are as much about advertising as they are about providing new content for your readers, but surely the revenues are worth actually employing some skilled writers in the field? There are plenty out there. Your buying guides around Christmas totally ignored the existence of the Sony Alpha range (which has built-in stabilisation), you're very unlikely to cover the technically interesting Sigma DP-1 large-sensor compact... and I really suspect the subtleties of the 4/3rd system will be lost on your reviewers, so don't expect anything from Olympus/Samsung/Leica/Panasonic etc. to be covered well, unless it's a P&S.

Mike: I use an SD10 and SD14 as well, and DP-1 - Foveon image quality is stunning. I also have a D3, which really emphasises just how far into professional territory I had to go to add capability to my kit. It's not that the other DSLRs aren 'as good' as the SD14, it's more that it's all about trading capability; resolution for colour accuracy/texture/sharpness/build/handling all the way along.

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Apple store detains teens for installing iPhone game

Richard Kilpatrick
Jobs Horns

Bloody idiots in that store

I've demonstrated a Jailbroken, unlocked iPhone in a CPW store in the past - not an Apple store, admittedly, but still firmly disproving the BS that CPW were spreading about the handset stuch as "no SIM card" etc. - and as far as I can tell it resulted in another handset sale, rather than a lost one.

And it may even have resulted in a sale with a contract, since Jailbreaking doesn't necessarily mean you can't use the O2 contract.

Sounds incredibly stupid of that Apple store, and Apple should be calling that manager in for discussions about the concept of "Public Relations".

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Top-end Fords will be watching your rear

Richard Kilpatrick

It's all about passive safety

Hmm, Yes, Very constructive suggesting 24v to the privates, inconsiderate drivers, etc.

But this is actually something which has some relevance to the real world, not the solipsistic variety most people inhabit on the road. Drivers may indeed have blind spots to check, but how many of the people making these comments have actually driven a modern car /whilst in the habit of checking blind spots/?

I do it habitually. Modern cars are awful, because they're designed to score highly on crashing into solid objects, not avoiding the crash. A pillars on everything I've driven since around 2004 MY have been massively thick and obtrusive. Rear pillars are practically wall-like (anyone seen the trend for arched windows in a square, leaving a huge solid area? See Megane, Rodius, CR-V).

And B-pillars are not there to provide something for the door to attach to. They're there to protect the passengers. Turn your head to check the side, and your view is obstructed by something nearly as wide as yourself and deep enough that from a 3D POV, it obscures most of the rear window too.

I don't agree with the tech, but I think people are too quick to blame and whine without actually thinking about how things work from other people's perspectives.

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Richard Kilpatrick

Economy

The reason these innovations are useful is actually fuel economy. Car manufacturers used to do Cd testing without mirrors, back when one mirror was acceptable. No mirrors=less drag, smaller mirrors=slightly less drag, and we're already seeing smaller mirrors on many cars. The original Mercedes A-class has pitifully small mirrors.

Mercedes also used to fit a "shorter" mirror to the NS.

And yes, Volvo tech, not Ford. Ford's acquisition of Volvo has done a lot for improving the quality and features on Ford cars.

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Guitar maker Gibson thrashes out more robo-axes

Richard Kilpatrick
Coat

Heh, cheaper than real work

Either make the guitar correctly, or have cheap electronics correct the shit intonation from modern SGs on the fly. Eventually you'll be able to bash out Mexican/Korean messes with the bridge and neck attached by just throwing them, and it'll still correct.

Mine's the one with "Kramer" on the back in aluminium studs...

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eBay forces Aussies to use Paypal

Richard Kilpatrick

UK

Is coming, perhaps at the end of April or May, if I understood a message that popped up when listing items recently.

I must admit I'm quite torn on it. eBay is useful, they should be able to make a profit, but I think this is abuse of a monopolistic position. They're already trying to "encourage' sellers towards including shipping, which of course nets fees on the shipping charge also.

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BBC to launch iPlayer for Wii

Richard Kilpatrick

Linux? *prods Eee*

I watched iPlayer programmes on my Eee, so I assume Linux is already supported just fine. The iPhone implementation impressed me a lot, too.

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Asus avoids Atom to get next Eee PC out early?

Richard Kilpatrick

Dual core?

Somewhat of a leap, surely? From Celeron-M to ULV Core 2 Duo is quite a jump; not as much of a jump as going back to Atom would be for later models.

If Asus launch a Core 2 Duo 9" Eee for £305 or thereabouts (current 9" model pre-order speculative pricing. I've been suggesting to Eeenterested friends that I expect it to be >£400 for the 9", especially given eBay scalpers and inevitable demand - but I've also said that I think at such a price point it would be a poor competitor - cash wise - for low-end Dell and so forth conventional laptops. That's out of the window if they put a decent CPU in it) then I'm going to give my existing one to a passing hobo and buy the new one faster than than you can say "environmentally irresponsible purchasing decision".

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Move over Storm - there's a bigger, stealthier botnet in town

Richard Kilpatrick
Jobs Halo

Darnedest thing

But I searched everywhere in all the usual and likely places to see the sort of images this might be concealed in, and yet my computer remains uninfected.

Perhaps Apple will release a Security Update to ensure I can enjoy this functionality in the future.

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Brown ignores scientists and pushes pot reclassification

Richard Kilpatrick

@Andy Gibson

People DO produce their own fuel, and indeed, fuel is available massively discounted. People use red diesel from agricultural stocks in their road vehicles all the time, and they get nicked fairly often. People creating their own biofuels are supposed to pay duty on it. Very few do; fewer still will pay the duty on what they ACTUALLY produce vs. a token quantity.

People also brew their own beer and produce their own wine. I'm sure that people have grown their own tobacco where climate and conditions allow.

Home-grown pot is probably only as widely responsible for the product in circulation as it presently is due to the illegality and inability to deal with a reputable supplier. Most people attempting to casually grow pot get nothing more than a couple of weedy little bushes. The convenience of a legal supply network would undoubtedly reduce the number of people attempting to grow their own, regardless of taxation and costs.

How much 'tax' do you reckon exists on pot from the dealer's risks if he gets caught?

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Richard Kilpatrick
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Insanity

Whilst I appreciate the many arguments against drug use (and abuse) and choose not to take any of them myself, I consider this constant bickering and criminalisation of the use of cannabis to be utterly laughable in the face of continued legal sales of alcohol, and indeed lobbying to defer increases in duty on alcohol.

It isn't that cannabis is safe, rather that existing legal intoxicants are equally dangerous. All of the arguments for cannabis being classified as anything other than "not very good for you really, but it's a bit of a laugh" could equally be applied to alcohol and indeed, over the counter drugs, if abused.

Not that Brown would concede this point. I'm sure he enjoys a quiet pint as much as many people enjoy a quiet smoke. Perhaps he'd like to walk down any small-town high street in a weekend, or live in a small community or housing estate, and continue to support the position that alcohol is in any way more appropriate for mass consumption.

Regardless of the arguments such as "I'd rather people were high on pot that smashed on drink" - the scientific arguments used by the Government to support reclassification are "damage to family", "social dysfunction", "psychological damage", "health concerns". All of which can be similarly attributed to alcohol use and more significantly abuse. And we don't need "health concerns" to be so vague, either - the affects are well documents and even well known to the masses. Everyone knows about the connections between alcohol abuse and liver failure, for example. Just as almost everyone can probably name an abusive, violent drunk within their social network.

I fail to see why people can be considered capable of making the judgement on alcohol, yet need protection in law from "the evil weed". Either legalise it, or bring back prohibition, but FFS, be consistent one way or another.

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LG quietly launches KT610 Symbian smartphone

Richard Kilpatrick

Hmmmmm....

It's interesting how similar this looks to the many Chinese knockoff E90s littering the internet, like the ZTC 8898 which also sports a Symbian-looking display (but also Windows Mobile keys). Orlowski (with comments disabled as ever) covered the LG, and if you search for the ZTC you will find a lot of "commentary" but very little information.

Perhaps a purchase and some research is in order!

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Five set to resurrect Minder

Richard Kilpatrick
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Um...

How on earth will it translate? The UK used car market is so utterly restricted by trading standards legislation, and so low value as to be utterly uninteresting to most traders (apart from the genuinely dodgy, rather than the comically inept geezers).

"Terry, we're going to go underwrite Arnold Clarke's latest tradeins"

"Terry! We've got a letter from the CAB! Have you got copies of the disclosure forms for that Focus you sold Mrs. Morris?"

Riveting stuff. And I don't mean 1970s-style door-bottom repair techniques, either.

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HTC Vista UMPC to hit the UK within weeks

Richard Kilpatrick

@Greg

The Fujitsu whateveritis is about the same size as the Athena - and a similar price stateside. However the Athena does handle calls quite well. My experiences with the FlipStart suggest "with the right apps" (i.e. not Office) it's very quick and portable, and has a better keyboard than Athena.

And I'm running XP, too.

I wish HTC would develop their products properly - finish them off, as it were - as many offer a lot of potential but instead get replaced totally. There is apparently going to be a 16GB Athena in April, but to what benefit - rumours on here suggest the N95 replacement will have 16GB too, iPhones have 16GB - why develop a machine which contains the HD still, I wonder.

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Richard Kilpatrick

Heh...

Arnold: FlipStart has a 5.6" 1024 x 600 screen. The Register seems to have deemed it unworthy of coverage for some reason, but google. They're $699 in the US. Also Sony's UMPC things had 1024 x 600 also, and I think the Fujitsu A100-based one has too.

Greg: I have an Athena (well, had, I slipped over on a train and smashed it a week or so ago - insurance will replace it thankfully) and found in true HTC style, it Didn't Quite Work Well Enough - camera was useless, it's far slower than the CPU speed suggests - and of course, it's an awful phone without a bluetooth handset (LG Style-i should have been standard kit!). Shift is far more than the Athena, it's an Athena with a UMPC attached. The idea is that SnapVue will allow a decent standby to use it as a phone.

The Eee is a nice idea, but the screen dimensions are all wrong IMO. The size of the lid would allow an 8.1" or larger screen and more pixels; or just ditch the wasted space and make it smaller physically. And the lack of storage annoys me. I want one as a successor to my Handheld PC, MobilePro 900c, but I never really made much use of that either.

What made Athena so anachronistic was the inclusion of the HD. Such a short sighted move; added bulk, added power consumption, added fragility - and yet I just stuck 8GB in my E90 for £32.

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Richard Kilpatrick

Choice?

Ummm...

The HTC Shift is not just a UMPC. It's called "shift" partly because it's part UMPC, part SmartPhone. It also carries a 400MHz CPU running a modified WM6 version that HTC call "SnapVue".

So: HTC Shift = Vista UMPC with rather small HD for a lot of money + a sort of crippled Hermes-esque phone part.

I'm curious but not tempted - a FlipStart costs $699, another £80 will probably shove an HSDPA modem in it in place of the EVDO module (I remain as ever horrified at the lack of coverage FlipStart has managed, and surprised no hack-happy bloggers have cracked the lid open and tried a suitable module inside it). Then I get XP, 30GB, 1.1GHz CPU that is actually capable of running something, and a pocket-sized device.

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PC World cuts £250 off the price of Apple's MacBook Air

Richard Kilpatrick
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Smart Move

I think it's a good move pn PC World's part, however...

I'd have expected that Mr Smith would have been smarter than to fall into the old iPhone-bleating trick of saying "it's really another £630".

Like an O2 contract with an iPhone, it's a service. It's a service you'd presumably be planning on using, and paying for, regardless. It does not (as Andy says above) make a MacBook Air cost £1600.

It porbably is a useless service - my own experiences with Three mean they'd have to do some serious bribery to get me to use their service again - but cost of service does not equal cost of product. I know several people who do use Three's current services and actually have very little to complain about - on paper they seem to be trying to compete with T-Mobile on data which can only be a good thing.

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Ton-up electric Reliant Robin offered for '09

Richard Kilpatrick

Three wheels on my wagon

Yes; I'm aware that the official title is a Regal Supervan II/III, but a Regal - alone - it is not. And when I were a lad, they were just Supervans - and indeed, when I were a lad, I got carted about Sheffield in one a lot. I'm not quite sad enough to want one of them now, but I have a softspot for what was actually quite a nice looking range of vehicles at the time.

And the Grinnal etc, yes, aware of those too, and Lomax, and Sparrows, and yadda yadda. I also spotted a Carver heading up the M6, though technically they're closer to bikes. There's something called "labouring the point". However, Regal = 2 door, reverse rear window, passenger car. No-one i knew in the 70s/80s referred to it as a "Regal Supervan".

I think there's a double "disservice" to be done in heading the article "electric Reliant Robin" - one, experimental electric cars were produced by Reliant (and the Ant, with electric power, would have made a nice little town delivery vehicle), and two, there is absolutely nothing beyond the three wheels to actually link the two vehicles.

@AC - I nearly bought an Ant for £50 a couple of years back - it was rotten. Ended up going on eBay for a stupidly high figure for what was, IMO, utter scrap, so I guess someone must like them. Same bloke has a Mumford Musketeer in the garage that I keep trying to persuade him to part with.

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Richard Kilpatrick
Stop

Oh FFS.

The Trotter's Van is Reliant Supervan III. It's BASED on a Regal (which was a two-door saloon). You pedants are useless.

And not every three wheeled car is a damn Reliant. Morgan, for starters, made very well regarded three wheelers (with the single wheel at the back), likewise Berkeley.

I'm not getting my coat; journalists need to stop thinking every three wheeled car is a Reliant Robin (or worse, Robin Reliant *stabstabstab*).

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16GB iPhone to launch today

Richard Kilpatrick
Stop

Once again, with the cost of the handset.

I love the people that say "It's really £800".

No, it's not. It's £269/329 + the cost of the service.

The service is not free.

The service is not free from anyone.

If you choose to go PayG, you still have to Pay.

If you choose a free handset, you still have to pay contract costs.

I just got an E90 as an upgrade. It cost me money, which surprised me, and I'm now on a 24 month contract, but I've been with them for 14 years so another 2 won't make any difference. The E90 is £625 officially. Even if I bought it SIM free, I'd still need to pay for the service.

Now, frankly, if it weren't lumbered with O2, I'd buy a 16GB iPhone without hesitation. I've used one for a while which is my girlfriend's one, and I activated it for PayG use instead of letting her sign up to O2 because like me, she already has an Ameo on T-Mobile and therefore just wanted the gadget and minimal costs. We're in the minority of phone users in this regard; if O2 offered GENUINELY comparable internet connectivity to T-Mobile (and I'm not talking 3G, but rather "not blocking everything under the sun" and the ability to use the iPhone as a modem) then I'd happily use an iPhone on contract as my only phone.

Still, this does prove that still people fail to actually think about this.

Mat - you expect the drones in Carphone Warehouse to know anything? They probably still believe the iPhone has a sealed SIM and you need their insurance in case it's damaged otherwise you'd need to take out a new contract :D

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Remembering the Commodore SX-64

Richard Kilpatrick

Lightweight!

The XPS M2010 makes this look positively svelte!

(MacBook Air search hit-seeking. Why not just post an article which just says MacBook Air over and over? Or put the words: "MacBook Air" in every headline?")

Osbourne-1 was marginally more useful for business, though.

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Apple MacBook Air wins Greenpeace's approval

Richard Kilpatrick

Shouldn't void warranty

Well, under certain regulations, taking your kit apart shouldn't void the warranty in Europe at least - as long as you don't break it - but if it's a lot easier to dismantle than the PowerBook or MacBook Pro then I'd agree that it's less of an issue.

Apple in the US offers some incentives for disposing of old computers through them, doesn't it? And Europe will inevitably get around to legislation (far more civil servants can be employed that way) making computer firms responsible for the disposal of the stuff they make, as indeed car makers were supposed to be (oddly enough I've yet to see a "pop your old VW in here for recycling" box at the local dealer, but I expect it's all done with fines and charges).

Perhaps I am just cynical and see Greenpeace wanting to ride the back of publicity for an Apple product the way they did by criticising the iPhone. I didn't see any major press releases regarding the MacBook Pro 15" adoption of LED backlights from them; nor have I see a release from Greenpeace saying that the Dell XPS M2010 is an abomination of a laptop with a 150W PSU, HUGE CCFL-backlit LCD, 8.3Kg weight making it expensive to ship, etc.

My PowerBook battery was dead after 1 1/2 years; it got a lot of plugged in use which may have shortened it.

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Richard Kilpatrick
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Heh

And yet, this is possibly the first laptop I've come across that features a non user-replaceable battery, resulting in at the very least energy used in shipping the unit back to Apple for replacement, and at worst premature disposal of the technology.

Cost and size are good motivators in making people maintain things. A new iPod battery is $29 and the iPod is small and inexpensive - people are far more likely to risk "trying to fix it" when at worst they lose a $300 last generation gadget they wanted to upgrade anyway. Far more MacBook Airs will reach the end of the battery lifespan during the machine's useful life.

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FlipStart halves handheld PC price

Richard Kilpatrick
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One moon, sir. Stick is extra...

Steve, the point about SSD makes sense if you consider the spec "at launch price" - compared to say, Vaio UX1XN or similar (which was also being sold off cheap lately; I've read stories of units being cleared from Sony stores for £699 and even their own site dropped them to £899). But "I'd consider one with (at a guess 32GB) SSD" at £350?

I think you'd be lucky to get a 32GB flash storage device alone for that for the very near future (a quick Google suggests just under $1000 for SATA 32GB Flash SSDs). I mean, I'd consider an Eee, if they had 32GB Flash, 1024 x 600 screen, Bluetooth, 1.1GHz Pentium-M with proper cache...

SSD should have been an option from the start; larger HDs should have been provided as soon as feasible to do so. However, we all know what to assume about a company when great and expensive tech suddenly becomes dirt cheap, especially when that company only has one product and took nearly four years to get it to market.

I don't think the HDD will be ditched, the RAM will be upgraded, or even that the Core 2 Solo CPU in the GD:Itronix ruggedised relative of FlipStart will make it to a consumer-market model - and if it does, it's not going to be a $699 device. In short, I suspect that calling this the V1.0 was possibly too great a temptation for fate ;)

And the website is horrible. It doesn't even work properly half the time.

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