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* Posts by Stefan 2

37 posts • joined 21 Oct 2009

Google's leaky ship spills new Nexus 5 photos, $349 price tags all over web

Stefan 2

Re: Most Importantly

How many Nexus devices include a MicroSD slot?

Has Google's vision of 'everything in the cloud' changed recently to make them about-face and include a MicroSD slot in the Nexus 5?

Not likely.

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Crytek: Schemes to strike second-hand games biz 'awesome'

Stefan 2

This again?

There's a reason I didn't purchase Crysis 2; It wasn't very enjoyable.

Same reason I didn't purchase Crysis 1, although I really have tried to get into it on at least 3 occasions.

I buy good games. Games like Grimrock, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet and Superbrothers: Sword & Sorcery EP.

1.Make good games

2.Market them well

3.Engage with fans

4.????

5.PROFIT!

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Sandisk's revs circle drain as mobile flash demand drops

Stefan 2

I was wondering why I was able to buy a 64GB micro SD card from Amazon for a little more than £45 a few days ago.

That's more than £100 off SanDisk's RRP.

I've always like the fact that SanDisk flash products (especially SD cards) don't screw up, whereas almost every time I have tried an alternate brand, the product has been faulty from the get-go.

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Samsung S III to enter Galaxy next month

Stefan 2

Re: Out of curiousity...

I'm still really happy with my S2. Nothing has come to market that has given me the upgrade-goosepimples. The S2, when it came out, was a serious "got to have that".

If the S3 has a 1280x800 OLED screen that doesn't use that horrible pentile matrix, then it has some attraction for me. However, if the battery life isn't improved over the S2, then my interest level will remain reasonably low. The S2's display is absolutely wonderful. Any improvement will be pleasantly appreciated.

Camera resolution means less than nothing to me. I don't care if I can take a 12MP shot if it doesn't look any better than a 5MP shot. Increase the sensor size and/or just increase the signal-to-noise. Give me 60FPS 1080p recording and 120FPS 720p... that's something I can really use.

Processing speed... OK, I don't really have any interest in Tegra 3. The Exynos in my S2 outperforms Tegra 2 and I have no reason to believe Samsung would dare release their next evolution of Exynos if it performed worse than Tegra 3 (performance or energy consumption). It does seem to me that my S2 is plenty fast enough, but I guess I would do more emulation stuff if I had a faster handset.

Stereo speakers would be slightly nice. I do watch movies on my S2 and it's not always convenient to do so whilst wearing earphones.

Improve the speed of the built-in storage though, that's the only thing that regularly annoys me.

So, 1280x800 screen, 60FPS 1080p recording and playback, 24FPS native movie playback (just thought of that one), stereo speakers and >10MB/s internal storage.

Ta.

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The Commodore 64 is 30

Stefan 2

Astonishing

I had a relevant conversation with a young man a couple of weeks ago. The gist was my (small) obsession with retro computers. He couldn't understand it at all, but I had to remind him that computer nostalgia for me included varied systems, no GUI's, straight-to-BASIC boot, the early development of games and machines that you had to plug into a TV instead of a monitor.

I pointed out that his nostalgia will merely be for past versions of Windows, which really isn't going to provoke anything approaching the same level of emotional response.

I got a C16 (not the plus/4) for /this/ Christmas and I bought myself a still-working Commodore 128D only yesterday. Happiest purchase ever :)

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Arcade emulator MAME slips under Apple radar

Stefan 2
Unhappy

Damn!

This puts a dent in my "Android versus iPhone - Look what Android can do that iPhone can't" argument!

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ASUS: 'We run out of hard disks at the end of the month'

Stefan 2

20% HD price increase? Silver lining?

It hasn't taken at all long for prices to rocket and availability of certain drives (500GB 5400RPM) to drop almost to nil.

The silver lining may be a push toward SSD's.... unless those factories are also under water?

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Toshiba demos monster hi-res tablet display

Stefan 2

Yes, but, the thing is...

Higher resolutions = fewer artificial features in the resulting image. The test image shown in the article demonstrates why this is something we should avoid. Intersecting lines and fine-detail will look bad on low resolution displays unless you blur the image.

Sadly, that is what we have had to put up with for many, many years. To make the image more 'real', anti-aliasing and bi-cubic interpolation are image processing algorithms used so often that virtually every image on every screen you encounter is using one or the other.

They both introduce blurriness that fools our eyes/brain into thinking there is far more detail in the image than is really there, with the unfortunate side-effect of subconsciously *not* fooling our very clever auto-focus ability, resulting (eventually) in eye-strain due to the constant attempts our eyes are making to focus on an image that is essentially impossible to focus on.

Apple's Retina display goes a long way toward display perfection - but it's still probably an order of magnitude behind being a display capable of showing images in enough detail that anti-aliasing and interpolation are no longer required.

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Stefan 2

I might cry!

A display even the most devoted Microsoft OS dev would have to admit it might not be worth deploying ClearType to.

All hail a future free of blurry (anti-aliased) text!

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Samsung Galaxy Nexus comes up short on sub-pixels

Stefan 2
FAIL

Well, duh.

It's a Super AMOLED screen, not a Super AMOLED+.

So, when the specs came out this week, anyone who was paying attention when the Galaxy S2 came out knows that the difference a + makes is Pentile versus 'proper'.

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Windows 8 to boot in 8 seconds

Stefan 2

Times, they are a changin'

Or they should be, but I don't see much evidence.

PC architecture dictates these ridiculous, non-threaded ways to initialise hardware. We may have progressed from ISA through PCI, PCI-x and (now) PCIe, but the model has remained the same for a long time.

Devices are dumb and rely on drivers to make them do anything. This is evident so clearly when your OS first starts the long crawl to usability, after power-on. Those lovely low-res graphics reminding you which OS you have installed. No greater reminder is there that we are relying on ridiculously outdated technology.

Where is the standard graphics interface? It shouldn't be difficult, what with all the muscle your average GPU carries (more than most PC's, if stories are to be believed). Windows should be interfacing with something resembling a fast framebuffer, but with obvious additional capabilities. Instead, Windows interfaces with a driver, which abstracts all of the fast stuff behind a lot of code. Sometimes the code doesn't do much and just passes and translates API calls, sometimes it does a *lot* of work to fool Windows into thinking it is dealing with native capabilities.

Until we morph the 'driver' model into something else, like a smart device with a teensy bit of glue code, those boot times are only ever going to get longer.

Mashing kernel images into a compressed file is just putting lipstick on a pig.

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Disk sales up 4%: No sign of Flash or Cloud impact yet

Stefan 2

Aren't storage sales always guaranteed to increase?

I mean, we never really need less storage, do we? I've bought 5 drives in the past 6 months and they were the first drive purchases I'd made in more than 5 years.

Gosh, how speeds have improved!

Wow, I now have a 2TB drive where previously my largest was 300GB!

4TB drives announced from Seagate today, which means I will probably bag a 3TB drive when their price curve levels out at a nice, low level.

Everything is HD and 3D now, which takes up a bunch of storage. A 3TB drive or two will be most welcome in my household.

That's just consumer space. Businesses are processing ever more data, seeking ever faster IO. We may have hit a bit of a bump in the worldwide economy but that doesn't suddenly mean we need less storage. Probably more, to store all the data about failed companies...

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Dell Alienware M18x 18.4in gaming notebook

Stefan 2

Underclocking on battery

It should be noted that the battery packs used in such gaming powerhouses are just not capable of sustaining a >200W draw, lest they 'do a Macbook' and explode all over the place.

Same thing happens with Dell's original gaming monster, the venerable M1730.

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Nokia N9 joins next month's mobile match

Stefan 2

Too little, too late

After being burned with their N97 (I should have done my research first), the only handset I would have considered was the N900.

Unfortunately for Nokia, by the time I hit my upgrade window, the Samsung Galaxy S2 was released and I jumped straight on the Android bandwagon with nary a second thought.

With the N9 announced, I looked at its specs compared to my Samsung and I figure I still have a better deal, even though I would like the freedom of a 'proper' Linux handset.

Sorry Nokia, you lost me as a previously loyal customer due to the rash of poor handsets you released and then (final coffin nail), jumping into bed with Microsoft.

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Fujitsu installs Windows 7... on a phone

Stefan 2

No way

Nobody I know would even consider using such a device. Would you fancy trying to do a malware removal exercise on this thing? What about the time it takes the thing to boot?

Destined to abject failure. If you desperately need Office compatibility, Polaris Office works beautifully. If you want/need Excel VB macro capability on a portable device, buy a notebook or one of those teensy Vaio things that cost £1000+

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GE boosts micro-holo storage to Blu-ray speed

Stefan 2

About time something came along

It's been a while since optical media was actually a fairly cost-efficient way to archive data. Currently, your bang-for-buck ratio peaks nicely at a 2TB HD.

Of course, when these fancy holo spinny things come to market, each one will cost £50. The same price as a 3TB HD, no doubt.

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UK mobile punters get swift network switcheroo ability

Stefan 2
FAIL

I had a not great experience leaving Three too.

It was 18 months ago, but I moved off Three onto Vodafone. I was persuaded (by a Three customer services rep) to switch my existing pay-monthly contract to a "Sim Zero", which was a 30-day rolling, £0 per month 'contract', where only my calls would be chargeable. This was to facilitate a smooth transition to a new phone number (which I wanted to do, due to nuisance calls).

They failed to move the contract properly and I was being billed for services I wasn't using.

Cue a 30 minute argument with 'retentions department' (a guy in India) where the rep repeatedly refused to cancel my contract, arguing blindly that "you don't want to do that, we can easily so [x, y and z]".

It all culminated in a hefty complaint and a crediting of my final bill in its entirety, a sum of around £120 as I recall. Needless to say, I will never, ever return to the Three network. A shame, because the actual technical parts of the service were superb.

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The terabyte iPad is coming

Stefan 2

Really?

I'm sorry, but I wholeheartedly disagree with the opinion in this story. I've got HD's that have been sitting around for 7+ years which work perfectly. I've got a 300GB SATA1 drive servicing as C: in the PC I'm using to write this. Oh, it also has a 160GB IDE HD, just for the giggles (and running a few servery type things from).

OK, so I do also have a whole bunch of SanDisk flash storage in the form of SD cards (normal and micro), Compact Flash and USB drives. These are a joy to use and I use them for backups as much as anything else.

That's not to say I back my data up from my HD to flash. Actually, I backup from one to the other on an interchangeable basis. I just want to dupe my data so that at least one copy should be safe if either media dies.

I've been quite lucky with HD's though. I had a RAID of 4 40GB IBM drives many, many moons ago (when 40GB with mid-range for capacity). I've given one away this year. One developed some nasty crunchy sectors, but the first 30GB was pefectly fine. The other two are in the cupboard next to me, with various bits of data on.

I keep thinking about upgrading the HD in my PC - as well as the two in my laptop (one of which makes very odd bleepy noises with its read/write head, from time to time). Thing is, SSD's are still too expensive and the latest generation (SandForce) are not tested sufficiently enough for longevity. Not where *my* data is concerned, at least.

1.5TB 3.5" is where the price:storage ratio is best. I may, possibly, if I'm generous, shove a couple into my PC and ditch the 300 and 160GB in the bin. Maybe. Except they work fine. *sigh*

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Virgin Media begins 100Mb upgrades

Stefan 2
Flame

An opportunity?

An opportunity for FAIL.

I had my Virgin Media broadband upgraded today. I had a nice 20Mb connection which ran at top speed all the time.

Now I have a 50Mb connection which is currently running at 16Mb, though the day's average is admittedly 28Mb. Sadly, my upload speed has stayed at 0.72Mb. A far cry from the 1.5Mb (and soon 5Mb) I should be seeing.

Engineer saw the speeds. "Nothing I can do mate, the modem's working".

There's a network problem in my area. A manager will call me in a couple of hours. That was 5 hours ago.

My power levels are both too high and too low. No suggestion as to what is to be done about that.

If I upgrade to 100Mb, I wonder if I'll get back to where I was, this time yesterday? It'll only cost me £14 more per month.

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ACS:Law's mocking of 4chan could cost it £500k

Stefan 2
Boffin

Funny as.

My very good friend called me a couple of weeks ago. He was more than a little bit distressed at having received a letter from ACS:Law demanding upwards of £400 for his illegal downloading of some porn.

It was rather cruel perhaps that my immediate reaction was to deep belly laugh down the phone at him, but he's so far followed my advice and ignored the hell out of the letter.

It will be interesting to see if they go out of business before they get around to sending him a second letter.

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Intel confirms HDCP copy-protection crack

Stefan 2

Please. Stop.

Will everyone please stop getting their thoughts in a muddle?

HDCP master key compromise does not mean BluRay is now 'wide open'. It just opens the market to unlicensed widget builders to create HDCP removing widgets, which will let me plug a BluRay player into my HDTV or old Dell 2405 monitor (neither of which are HDCP capable).

Not that I care to, because Hi-Def is OK, but not really brilliant until you get a 42"+ display. Which are all HDCP compliant anyway.

If this had been announced prior to 2005, it would have been a big deal.

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SanDisk bigs up its flash postage stamp

Stefan 2

157 pins, indeed.

157 pins does seem rather a lot. Perhaps the little BGA package doesn't connect to the outside world via SATA. Probably there's a connected supporting chip which is the SATA interface.

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Acer Aspire Ethos 8943G 18.4in laptop

Stefan 2
Thumb Up

Me, me, please sir, me!

I used to leave 2-3 years between upgrades of my 'proper' workstation. Every time I wanted to upgrade, there was a new CPU socket, GPU connector and a different type of RAM. So, every time I wanted to upgrade, it was: New motherboard, graphics card, RAM and CPU. Every 2-3 years.

This became somewhat tiresome, so I put off my last upgrade a little bit longer and instead purchased a Dell M1730, almost on day of release. As desktop replacement laptops go, it's an enormous (and enormously heavy) beast. Portability and looks completely suck, but performance is drop-dead gorgeous. I don't take it out of the house more than twice a year, but it does make the trip between upstairs office, bedroom and front-room quite often. Not something I'd like to do with tower workstation. It's also now more than 3 years old and I'm only just now feeling the need for an upgrade.

The Acer reviewed here doesn't look particularly attractive as an upgrade option for me, but it's not a bad price for what it is.

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Microsoft's ARM deal fuels hope of a chilled-out Xbox

Stefan 2

One reason.

MS would need to muck about with the architecture of the processor if they needed to include similar security features as currently employed in the Xbox 360. Specifically, including a hardware encryption key and stuff.

ARM chips may not be as powerful as the tri-core, multi-GHz monster in the current 360, but it would be cracking in a handheld.

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Microsoft prices up cheapo Xbox 360, Kinect bundle

Stefan 2

Multiple SKU's again.

It's all been rumour, so far. Now it's fact. Punters are again going to be faced with confusing, multiple variations of the same console. Granny buying little Billy's Christmas present isn't going to know the difference, even if some kind soul tries to explain it to her.

Why is it so difficult to make one SKU attractive enough that it's the only one everyone will want to buy? Surely it's simple... if customer wants Xbox, customer pays £199.99 (before retailer-specific discounting). This is not a difficult concept.

I work in a company where it's become a running joke amongst staff about how offering customers too much choice just results in confused customers and a warehouse full of unwanted, unsaleable stock.

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Son of Transputer powers new Amiga box

Stefan 2

Not Amiga?

I don't give a stuff if it's not an Amiga. If it looks like an Amiga, has API's like an Amiga and fully documented hardware like an Amiga, then it's sufficiently Amiga-like for me not to care about the difference.

I loved developing on the A1200. Every part of the system could be fully understood, down to the last clock cycle. There are excruciatingly few x86 developers who can lay claim to the level of knowledge that quite many Amiga developers had about their hardware.

In some ways, technology has gone very backward. One niche example is that it's difficult, these days, to generate synthetic sound effects for games. Realtime, low-latency audio is the realm of expensive (or at least, not motherboard integrated) sound cards and ASIO drivers. This used to be standard, when sound was forcefully pushed out of a DAC by a custom chip or (shock horror) the CPU, with nary a buffer in sight. All sadly lost in the quest of hardware abstraction, OS protection, resource sharing and a multitasking environment incapable of gracefully stepping out of the way when a bare-metal approach would be infinitely more preferable for certain tasks. We don't *always* want to run multiple tasks at once. Just one task, run really, really well is sometimes what we want.

I'm not saying a new Amiga could be a computing panacea, but maybe it will turn a few heads and open up some unique software possibilities. I want to get an X1000 to explore those possibilities. It looks like it could be a good playground for testing all manner of code, without the cruft of a multi-gigabyte OS making its presence felt.

It needs a good editor, a proper graphics driver and a really good show of what Xena can do.

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Stefan 2

Great!

I was lucky enough to attend the fair this weekend. It was a great experience (it wasn't just Amiga related). The A1-X1000 (please, that's a dreaful name, it needs to be shorter) looked a nice system. I managed to crash it by attempting to load 2 copies of Blender (sorry guys, but I did have a chuckle about this!).

I came away impressed, but clearly there's a lot of work still to be done. The graphics subsystem may be fairly complete, but it's dreadfully slow in both desktop and 3D operation (Quake 3 at 4fps). I'm also left wondering what market there is for this type of system. I'm really struggling to think what a PC can't do (at half the price) that the X1000 can do. The Xena chip may be a shining jewel amidst an otherwise dusty relic, but it needs a massive marketing push, developer tools and solid showcase examples.

There may be a niche within music production or video editing which the Xena can be used for - but I'm again struggling to see why people wouldn't go with a Windows machine. I'm no Windows fanboy, but at least it's got good support.

Oh, I *will* be buying an X1000. I am, after all, an ex-Amiga owner wanting to re-live my youth...

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Microsoft trumps Kinect with 'sleek, silent, sexy' Xbox

Stefan 2

USB

One of the missed features of the redesigned 360 is an increase in the number of USB ports. There's the regular two at the front (under a flap on the left, if you're looking at the promo picture) but there's now three at the rear, instead of the usual one.

Hardly a killer feature, but it does open up a little flexibility in the 360's expansion options. Personally, I'll be attaching at least one 16GB flash drive at the rear. All the better to run installed games from.

I'm looking forward to upgrading (or perhaps just accompanying) my current 360 with the new one.

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Unarmed Royal Navy destroyers: French missiles blamed

Stefan 2

Rotating, but multi-varied.

Standard rotating radar scanners may indeed introduce potential detection delays, but the scanner system employed on the Type 45 destroyer consist of many sensors housed in that rotating spheroid.

The radar system itself rotates once every two seconds but the effective target update frequency might be more than that (I haven't investigated but I remember watching the ship-building programme on TV not so long ago).

Further, the technology enables virtually instant (and virtually infallible) friend/foe/neutral identification. This will reduce all manner of delay which normally would be needed to put a positive ID on a radar bounce.

The ship itself is designed to provide a hemisphere of air protection for a fleet, but that doesn't mean its only effective at providing that cover. It's a fantastically manoeverable craft and can provide interception and patrol duties, assisting coast-guards, challenging drug-runners and the like.

Billion+ quid each one may be, but worth every penny.

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El Reg insults 'millions of Irish Catholics'

Stefan 2
Megaphone

Really?

I have some simple messages to impart to *any* Irish Catholic who may find the colour orange offensive:

Get the fuck over yourselves and please be careful not to trip over the massive chip that just fell off your shoulder.

Not everyone in the English-speaking world gives a flying hoot about your most pointless of disputes.

This is not to say I have no sympathy with the families of murdered Irish which have to deal forever with the fallout of some jumped-up terrorist's idea of 'giving a message'.

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Cryptome: PayPal a 'liar, cheat and a thug'

Stefan 2
Grenade

See ya.

I've closed my PayPal account in mild protest at their unethical handling of many a controversial situation.

Google checkout will have to fill the void, until something better comes along.

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Ubisoft undone by anti-DRM DDoS storm

Stefan 2

Amusingly...

I've just received a marketing email from Ubisoft inviting me to purchase AC2.

After venting my spleen in a short and sweet email reply back, I feel much better.

Ubi remind me of Sony, who blame poor PSP / PSP Go sales on piracy. Piracy is everybody's whipping boy, it seems. Game not selling well? Piracy. Attach rate dipping? Piracy. Profits down at all ever? Piracy, piracy, piracy.

It's so tempting for them, is the thing. I mean, there's always piracy. Nintendo are forever winning $2M settlement suits against horrid, nasty pirates. Pirates are evil, of course. Everyone would agree, unless they're stupid. Knock off Nigel? Oh dear. Nobody would agree that Nigel is anything other than scum. I mean, he probably even funds terrorism. Probably *is* a terrorist.

I have a cunning suspicion that Bad Games are more effective in fucking up your sales figures than piracy ever will be. It's a little coincidental that the more a software publisher struggles to meet expected targets, the more they climb on the piracy bandwagon. Eventually, of course, they go out of business.

Whose fault is that? The scurvy pirates, of course!

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Patchy Windows patching leaves users insecure

Stefan 2

Fair point

It may be a bit of marketing hornswaggle from Secunia, but they have a point. I'm far from an average user but patching and updating is damned tedious. It's especially galling when I haven't used a particular VM (or just my regular desktop) for a couple of months. Not only will there be the ruck of MS patches, but I feel duty-bound to check for updates to Notepad++, FileZilla, 7zip, SumatraPDF, ... those are just some of the 'must have' items on my list.

The only piece of software with a good, robust auto-update is uTorrent. Some of those I listed above may claim auto-update capability, but most fail in some way. Notepad++ consistently fails to detect an updated version available (even when specifically told to go and look for one). Opera is another. It tells me I have the latest version (on my XP Pro VM), where clearly I don't.

I've not normally minded about spending time to ensure my system is updated (and thus mostly secured) but it's now taking too much time out of my day. If Secunia can work some auto-update magic, I'm sold.

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BT reveals faster broadband pricing

Stefan 2

Virgin seem to be a good option, even so.

Much as BT are the king big daddy of ISP's in the UK, I'm sticking with Virgin. This not least because there's still no plan to upgrade our local exchange to anything other than plain ADSL. We don't even have SDSL.

In Telford. A town created solely to serve industry and commerce.

*sigh*

Even Virgin aren't perfect. Want to upgrade from 20Mb to their wonderful, all-singing, flagship 50Mb? Be prepared for a mandatory engineer installation and not one but *two* up-front fees. Total more than £50 just for the privilige of an upgraded router and another 18 month contract.

Joy.

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Nokia opens Ovi Store for N900s

Stefan 2

Don't!

Going Vodafone is not a pleasant experience. I early-adopted the N97 with them (as a new carrier) and I get: No 3G at home, no 3G at work, no 3G at my parents house, no 3G at my girlfriend's house. This despite them all being listed in 'excellent' coverage areas.

Their network is terrible, their upgrade policy is draconian and the only saving grace is they are giving me better value (for calls and texts) than H3G ever did.

You can buy a sim-free N900 for around £440. Save up your money and buy the handset outright. I will.

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The Beatles go digital, sort of

Stefan 2
FAIL

24 bit?

So, you pay your £200 for a collector's item (not really a bad deal, considering limited run). But, I'm left wondering why bother including FLAC at 24-bit if it's still only 44.1KHz?

Having heard the difference between 44.1KHz (which is what every CD is) and 192KHz (which is what most new music is mastered at) *even on low-end audio setups*, I think someone has missed a trick.

16-bit 96KHz would be audibly much better than 24-bit 44.1KHz. I just don't get the thinking behind that particular decision. Still, it's the best quality Beatles we will be able to listen to, for some time yet.

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Windows 7 - the Reg reader verdict

Stefan 2

No complaints

Installed on my blazingly fast Dell M1730 laptop and a somewhat aged AthlonXP 3700+ desktop machine (around half as powerful as my laptop).

The difference between Windows 7 and Vista is: Windows 7 doesn't distract me with a small number of repetitive minor annoyances. It just works. This is, I think, why people are quick to compare and contrast Windows 7 with Windows XP. Windows XP was the last OS to 'just work' without distracting people with bugs, slowness or minor little annoyances.

This is definitely why Windows 7 is a great upgrade for Windows XP users. Plus, as peoples base hardware gets steadily more powerful, Windows 7 is better positioned to make use of it.

All in all, a good win for Microsoft.

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