* Posts by Martin an gof

78 posts • joined 27 Jan 2010

Page:

It’s Adobe’s Creative Cloud TITSUP birthday. Ease the pain with its RGB-wrangling rivals

Martin an gof

Different angle

Disclaimer: I take photos but I am in no way "artistic" and Photoshop and its ilk confuse the heck out of me. GIMP is a nightmare.

I use Xara Designer Pro for my retouching needs. At its heart it's a vector drawing application (from the company that brought you Artworks on Risc OS, so it could be said to be a distant relative of Acorn's Draw and can indeed still import Draw and Artworks files) but it has a reasonable range of photo retouching tools too. Some of the example files provided date all the way back to Artworks.

It was part of the Corel stable at one point, but it was brought back out before Corel could kill it off altogether.

Its price puts it nearer Photoshop territory than Paintshop Pro, though if photo manipulation is the main consideration, £50 will buy you a version with most of the vector and text editing elements cut down.

Xara is the main reason why my work computer still dual-boots Windows and Linux. I do most of my "work" in Linux these days, but Xara is Windows-only.

M.

2
0

Tesla Powerwall: not much cheaper and also a bit wimpier than existing batteries

Martin an gof
Boffin

Re: Inverter?

With regard to the oven. A standard electric oven alone will have a 2kW heating element, or possibly 3kW. Maybe a second such element for the grill function. Because they are thermostatically controlled, and unlikely to be on at the same time many ovens can be run from a standard 13A socket, or fused spur unit.

An electric cooker on the other hand may well consist of:

1x 3kW ring

2x 2kW rings

1x 1 or 1.5kW ring

1x 2kW oven element

1x 2kW grill element

AND a 13A socket (common in the UK) run from the same circuit

With out applying diversity this little lot adds up to 15kW or so, which implies a 65A circuit at 230V. This would be very expensive in cable alone. Diversity recognises the thermostats and the fact that it will never all be on at the same time and hence you can get away with a 30A (fuse) or 32A (MCB) circuit.

Because people have different preferences it is common in the UK to have a 32A "cooker outlet" in the kitchen, even if you have a gas cooker, and even if all you have is a single electric fan oven at 2kW you will often find it is powered from this outlet.

M.

6
0
Martin an gof
Boffin

@dom

100A is common for new installations these days, but 80A is common and 60A is very common for houses built before perhaps the mid 1980s. I even saw a couple of 40A "main cutouts" in my electrician-ing days.

There's quite a nice section in "the regs" about maximum demand and diversity. Essentially, while you can quite safely say that it's unlikely that anyone would have two 2kW fan heaters, the Sunday roast, the washing machine, dishwasher, lawnmower and 10kW shower all running at the same time, it's actually possible that some of that will happen.

There are three things that all the coverage seems to have missed. I'm not sure if the first or second apply in the US, but I'm certain the last will.

Firstly note that practically all existing inverter systems (solar PV) will switch off if the grid supply fails, even on the sunniest days when the panels might be generating a couple of kW. This is simply because the regulations governing "off grid" systems are an order of magnitude more difficult to comply with than "feed-in" systems. While Musk's battery pack potentially could act as a UPS for your house, I suspect that the cost of an installation that meets regulations will make the $3,500 purchase price look cheap.

Secondly, this is not a money-saving exercise. Plain fact is that even with today's reduced "feed in" tariffs, I suspect it's much more economically viable to use the grid as your "storage" mechanism rather than keeping it locally.

Lastly, at 2kW continuous output, if the thing does not disconnect in the event of a failure of grid supply you will have to engineer-in some kind of load shedding. The simplest way to do this would be to connect the output of this battery pack to a select number of low-power circuits, probably the lighting and the one that feeds the boiler and heating pumps. Even if you want to take a chance and connect it to one or more sockets circuits, you will definitely have to isolate the system from the circuits providing power to your cooker, your electric shower and any permanent electric heating appliances. Again, re-arranging the distribution in your house in this way will cost.

M.

7
1
Martin an gof

Re: Just add capacitors

Tesla just need to add some capacitor into the mix to cope with short term peak loads of kettle / toaster etc

I realise that in the US they are saddled with a domestic electrical system that can't easily supply high power to point loads, but 1.5kW for a kettle as mentioned in the article is very, very rare in the UK and, I suspect, in Europe and most of the rest of the 220V+ world.

A cheap electric kettle here would be 2kW with many available at 2.5kW and a not inconsiderable number at 3kW. Half the time to boil the same amount of water and probably fractionally more efficient because of that.

Example: a £5 kettle rated at 2.2kW.

I'd like to see the capacitor bank that can supply 3kW for 3 minutes :-)

8
0

Good luck displacing Windows 7, Microsoft, it's still growing

Martin an gof
Unhappy

Re: What about non-connected computers?

If all you need is XP/7 application support, and not special hardware, then running Windows in a VM is a good solution.

It's a thought, but there are a couple of things preventing that here, I think. First is the hardware. Although it is being replaced as it fails, we still have a good percentage of our machines running 3GHz 32-bit single-core Pentium 4s without virtualisation support in 1GB of RAM. Many of the rest are Core 2 Duos with 2GB, which is better, and the current batch of replacement hardware is AMD A8-based :-)

I've never used a VM in anger, so my second potential problem is that these are machines running interactive software which works best with graphics hardware that can provide a moderate amount of 2D and video decode in hardware. Does that sort of thing work via a VM, or do you just get a framebuffer?

Oh and "special hardware". Yes, come to think of it, we do have a couple of bits, most notable of which are some USB-based hardware key dongles without which the driver for a particular Firewire-attached device won't load.

The installation is 10 years old this year and there has never been a proper replacement plan, nor a migration strategy. In the current financial climate we're just going to have to carry on replacing bits as they fail and hoping we can keep XP alive and safe, but I doubt we'll be the last people on earth using it...

M.

0
0
Martin an gof

What about non-connected computers?

Maybe we're an exception, but we have a lot of XP machines that have simply been isolated from t'internet and would never show on these counters. Perhaps there are others out there doing the same thing and this is part of the reason why the "fall" in XP usage isn't completely matched by a rise in W7 or W8?

For us it's mainly a case of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". The things work perfectly well under XP, the hardware would struggle in some cases to run W7 and some of the proprietary software we run doesn't work too well under W7.

That said, we are just now beginning to find that if we are replacing hardware, getting the drivers for XP can be difficult. At some point we will have to develop a taste for lead and cordite. Just not yet, please?

This sort of "census" doesn't tell the whole story by a long way.

8
0

Fandroids, take your phone's antivirus and burn it – Android bod

Martin an gof
Unhappy

Re: weekly scanning

My wife has a 'dumb' Nokia with forever battery life, but zero frills. You might find something like that (or in between) more attractive

Yes, I would find something like that (the "in between" - what used to be called a "feature phone") more attractive but there's absolutely zip available on the market these days. I hate touchscreen keyboards but I do need a half-decent "snapshot" camera. The camera in the G is the worst I have had for some time, but it's a heck of a lot better than can be found in your average "dumb phone" these days. I do appreciate having a browser available, I have been known to tether my EeePC when away, and I do make occasional use of GPS so a truly "dumb" phone won't cut the mustard. Actually, I could probably live without the GPS, but it's a "nice to have".

Put it this way, the two phones which best matched our needs over the last few years have been the Sony Ericsson K800i and the Nokia 6220 Classic. Both had GPS, both could run Opera and both would last at least a week on a charge without taking any special precautions. Video taken by the Moto G trumps either of those (especially the K800's QCIF) but its still photographs don't. It's quite nice to read The Register on a larger screen, but for sheer usability as a flippin' phone for phonecalls and texts...

Reminds me of the discussion recently about simple portable computing devices. I didn't chip in to that discussion, but I would definitely be in the market for an updated clone of the Psion Series 5. I completed a PGCE in 2000 with one of those as my only computing device. The form factor was great, but it was the OS that made the device work - instant on and a week of essay writing and the like from a pair of AAs.

M.

0
0
Martin an gof

Re: weekly scanning

Not rooted original Moto G. First thing I did was go through all the running services/apps and disable any that didn't seem to impact on the use of the phone as a phone. WiFi off, except for downloading OS updates, GPS off, location tracking off, and the only apps I've installed have both been "sideloaded" so Play Store has never even been opened on my machine. Has to be noted that the G has a fairly "bare" Android to start with - hardly any "bloatware".

I don't see network activity that I can't track down to legitimate users and I'm on a limited data plan so I need to track data usage (my wife, same phone, set up in almost the same way often gets months with 0MB of data used, but I do occasional web browsing). As a result my phone will regularly achieve 7 days between recharges and can reach 9 or 10 days if I'm careful.

Last weekend I turned GPS on for a 5 minute check of where I was (I usually prefer a paper map but had forgotten it). Forgot to turn it off afterwards, continued using phone as normal but it needed recharging the following day; about 36 hours since the last charge. GPS is a *big* power drain.

Presumably my phone is *not* being scanned weekly by Google?

M.

2
0

Midlife crisis, suck ingenuity? Microsoft turns 40; does the dad dance

Martin an gof
Happy

Re: what a lot of people..

The Amiga and ST blew PC hardware into the weeds

The Amiga didn't have an MMU as standard, hence memory protection between workbench applications was crap.

The Atari ST didn't have a blitter.

All of the rose tinted glasses in the world will not change the fact that there was NO decent commodity hardware available at a decent price back then.

I actually lived through this era and used these machines - all of them, IBM-PCs, Macs, Amigas and Atari STs. All of them had nice features. None of them had everything.

And because it hasn't been mentioned so far, a vote here for Acorn's Archimedes (1987 IIRC), yes it was a little later than the Amiga and the ST but it falls into a very similar category. I lived through the era too and did my fair share of typing listings out of magazines and writing my own software because I'd used most of my savings on buying hardware.

My view of the situation has long been that the reason MS "won" was nothing to do with the company itself nor its products, but was everything to do with the hardware. Not one of the other, potentially competing, systems turned out to be as "open". As soon as Compaq had reverse-engineered IBM's BIOS it became impossible to bolt the stable door and get the cat back into the bottle. The basic hardware itself was hardly more than Intel's application circuit for the 8086 and suddenly it became relatively cheap and easy to get "good enough" computer hardware from a number of suppliers.

As for an OS, only MS had something ready-to-go on that hardware. They were "in the right place at the right time". Can you imagine Commodore getting the Amiga OS working on that stuff? RISC OS? The key point is probably that they didn't want to. Their business model revolved around selling a combination of hardware and software and differentiating their products in ways that your average business user didn't understand and frankly didn't care about.

Yes, there were "killer applications" on each system; the ST's built-in MIDI, the Amiga's video circuitry (the Toaster) and, of course, Sibelius under RISC OS, but there was nothing intrinsic about those systems that meant that only they were suitable for those applications. Eventually the "PC" caught up.

And once home users began to understand what computers would be most useful for, they ended up buying Canon Starwriters or Amstrad PCW machines - in many ways "appliances", in a way more closely-related to tablets and smartphones than to modern PC-type computers.

Apple's flirtation with clones sort of missed the point, but I was well out of the Apple ecosystem by then so I can't really comment.

In a way I miss those times, but with a fleet of several dozen Raspberry Pis, a fistful of Arduinos and a copy of BBC BASIC for Windows (thanks to the marvellous Richard Russell) it hasn't completely disappeared.

M.

4
0

Lighty and flighty: Six sizzling portable projectors

Martin an gof

I'm also puzzled at who these are targetted at

As a previous poster said, travelling salesmen, onsite trainers, portable displays. There are plenty of use-cases where carrying a small (or even a large) projector of mediocre resolution about together perhaps with a portable screen is the only solution when presenting something to medium or large groups of people. You can't count on the venue either having a projector or a TV and if they do have a TV, the chances of it being as large as a projection are vanishingly small. Likewise the chance of it being mounted high enough for those at the back to see properly; this is easier with a projector.

Brightness - viewability in a daylight-flooded room - is the main weakness and these projectors are woefully lacking in that department, with the possible exception of the Canon.

I speak here as guardian of a fleet of 35+ projectors at a museum; our dimmest, smallest-image projectors are rated at 2,000 lumen as used and most of our displays work best with 4,000+. These projectors would be no good for us, but that doesn't mean they are no good for anyone.

Check out Panasonic's "large venue" DLP offerings - there are some spectacularly bright units there :-)

http://business.panasonic.co.uk/visual-system/projectors/large-venue-projectors

Most of the projectors I look after are from this range:

http://business.panasonic.co.uk/visual-system/projectors/fixed-installation

M.

1
0
Martin an gof
Boffin

That's odd...

The Canon looks like a clone of the Mitsubishi 320ST projectors we have been using for several years now. Ours are on 7½ hours a day in "low power" mode and in that mode the lamp has a rated life of 5,000 hours; 3,500 hours at high power. By the time it gets to that number of hours its output is probably nearly half what it was when new. This also goes for LED projectors, though their expected life is somewhat longer. While our four 320s are now just over 10,000 hours and still going strong, three of our four Mitsubishi 250 projectors which we thought were based on a similar chassis (both are DLP) failed shortly after 5,000 hours, which is pathetic. Failure mode was growing numbers of stuck and dead pixels.

I wouldn't really want to carry one around in a bag; they are quite bulky and the lens is a large lump of glass. They also get very hot and take ages to cool down. Very short throw though at a magnification of 0.7 or so and with a high degree of "look up". Mitsubishi pulled out of the projector market a couple of years ago.

Oh, and the web interface to the Crestron software is a nightmare. I don't know how it integrates with a centralised Crestron system, but as a stand-alone thing it's not worth the ROM space it takes up. All our projectors are networked and fortunately the Mitsubishi 320 also talks PJLink - presumably this Canon does too. I have a little utility running on a scheduled task that uses PJLink to send "on" and "off" commands, and another that queries lamp hours so we can pre-order lamps. The only downside is that both the 320 and the 250 occasionally "forget" the network and can't be reached by any means. Sometimes it's solvable by re-applying the network settings from the onscreen menu, other times it needs a hard reboot.

M.

2
0
Martin an gof
Meh

Re: resolution

I don't think resolution is an issue for this sort of projector. These are (with one exception) mainly designed for portable use by the sort of travelling rep who used to carry a flip-book of pictures around with him. For those purposes 1200 x 800 is absolutely fine, though even 1,000 lumen seems rather on the dim side.

Mind you, people still make 4:3 Powerpoint presentations even when they are told that the projector is 16:9. 1200x800 is 16:10ish, which is an odd aspect ratio that you would have to set up manually in Powerpoint. Showing a 4:3 presentation on a 16:10 projector will result in black bars to either side and a lot of wasted screen.

M.

5
3

BBC: We'll give FREE subpar-Raspberry-Pis to a million Brit schoolkids

Martin an gof
Meh

Re: too late

Mindstorms *could* be great, were it not for this:

http://shop.legoeducation.com/gb/product/intelligent-nxt-brick-9841-103/

The basic brick is £130 ex VAT. You can buy five Pis for that money and as for the Micro Bit, if they were ever available at retail I'd bet you could buy ten for the same price.

I keep making this argument regarding iPads - one iPad is a whole class worth of reading scheme, a whole term worth of exercise books etc. etc. Where do they get the money?

M.

1
0

Free WiFi coming to UK trains ... in two years

Martin an gof
Boffin

London?

all of the train companies mentioned only operate short distance commuter lines into London

Arriva Trains Wales?

Route map

Presumably this can be mandated as part of the rolling-stock upgrade that will be required when (if) the lines are electrified. Anything's better than the cattle trucks ATW operate on most of the network at the moment.

Hwyl!

M.

2
0

Watt the CHIP!? ARM pops out THE most powerful 64-bit Cortex for mobes'n'slabs

Martin an gof

Re: The difference

I have Inkscape installed on both my OpenSuse boxes and a Windows 7 box and I'm not hugely impressed. I have to say I prefer the way it works to that of LibreOffice Draw, but I have found it to be somewhat unstable and not a little sluggish in use. Xara (I started with Extreme 6 and now use Designer Pro X10) "just works" most of the time, though only under Windows of course. I still can't get used to the traditional "windows within a window" approach of non Risc-OS applications though. Terribly wasteful of screen real-estate, particularly as I have (at work) three variously-sized screens, and it reminds me of Windows 3.1's "Program Manager".

M.

0
0
Martin an gof

Re: The difference

I still haven't found a decent replacement for Impression Publisher on Linux.

Or !Draw for that matter.

Of course, were I running Windows I would be looking at Ovation which also started life on RiscOS. As for Draw, apart from the price, Xara Designer Pro X is absolutely stunning and I use it a lot at work. Version "X" has gained a lot of WP/DTP-like features. Xara began life as Artworks on RiscOS from Computer Concepts - the people that wrote Impression - and the company (after a flirtation with Corel and a buy-out from Magix) is still working from Gaddesden Place.

http://www.xara.com/uk/designer-pro/

And the thing still reads Draw files, though not always perfectly :-/

Unfortunately the native Linux version of Xara is no more (AFAICT). I am toying with the idea of trying to run it under WINE, an experiment I might attempt at work, but I'm not going to shell out for it at home unless I can prove it works near perfectly.

M.

1
0
Martin an gof

Re: The difference

ARM is the British tech success version of Apple

Hardly when you consider both the collaboration based business practices and the money earned.

But would ARM even exist without Apple? ISTR that ARM came from a collaboration between Acorn, Apple and VLSI with Apple putting a lot of the money in and Acorn essentially providing the IP. Back in those days (post the BBC deal) Acorn were hardly cash-rich as there weren't enough people like me stumping up for the Archimedes and the RiscPC. Without Apple's injection of the folding stuff we might today be remembering the ARM chip in the same nostalgic "what-might-have-been" way that we remember the Transputer, and our smartphones would either still be brick-sized to accommodate the battery needed for an x86 chip that had no competition, or be Z80-based.

My RPC is still in daily use (it's 21 this year), mostly as a mail server and emailing machine (there is quite a lot to be said for a mail client that doesn't "do" rich text and HTML) but also because I still haven't found a decent replacement for Impression Publisher on Linux.

Hwyl!

M.

8
0

'Tech' City hasn't got proper broadband and it's like BT doesn't CARE

Martin an gof
Boffin

Re: Business class...

2.5 minute video taking 9 hours? Even a 2 Mbps line would cope with that.

Uplink speeds on typical domestic ADSL2+ range from 500kbps to 1500kbps - note that uplink speeds are slower than downlink speeds, and this is a "film production company" so it'll presumably be high quality video intended for a client.

It'd have to be a client that really cared about quality and couldn't wait for the post to arrive next day though :-)

500kbps for 9 hours = 15.8Mbits total

15.8Mbits / 150 seconds = 105Mbps average video bitrate, which is a bit high, even for Apple ProRes (note, a standard "HD" camera will record at no more than 24Mbps), though I did once receive a video from a production company; 14 seconds totalling about 1Gbyte, or 660Mbps!

Ho hum.

M.

3
0

German 700MHz auction signals start of Euro spectrum flogoffs

Martin an gof
Unhappy

Re: Now I have to explain to my bosses...

Why did you buy 700Mhz mics 2 years ago?

Ok, so it was a couple more than 2 years ago. Take it from me, the first inklings of the 700MHz sell-off came just after we'd taken delivery and even then it was "unlikely due to co-ordination issues across Europe". And where we are, 700MHz was the easiest place to find 24MHz free.

I'm fully aware that Sennheiser should be able to re-tune our new microphones, but they couldn't retune our old ones because they "ran out of parts". It would have cost in the region of £400 per channel (tx/rx) IIRC which was a substantial proportion of the cost of new. Fortunately the old ones were able to use ch70 without modification so we didn't have to chuck them, though it does limit their use occasionally. Our old Trantecs were re-tuned by a third party, but probably can't be retuned again. That third party couldn't also retune the Sennheisers because of specific parts only available from Sennheiser while the Trantecs had bog standard components.

Or something.

M.

0
0
Martin an gof
Unhappy

Now I have to explain to my bosses...

...why the spanking new Sennheiser radio microphones that we bought two years ago on a "co-ordinated" frequency in the 700MHz range will have to be retuned or replaced within the next few years, and why our older microphones which were retuned from 800MHz down to 700MHz probably can't be retuned further.

Oh, and I'm going to have fun finding enough space in the remaining UHF spectrum for 20-odd sets alongside Freeview multiplexes, local TV and "white space" devices. At the moment we have 3x 8MHz "channels" plus a few in the licence-free band.

Hurumph.

M.

4
0

Enough is ENOUGH: It's time to flush Flash back to where it came from – Hell

Martin an gof

Re: If this little "feature" is still open to abuse?

it looks as though access to the online tax pages isn't possible unless scripts are enabled from Google Analytics

There were a few things I had to enable (noscript / ghostery blocked) but Google Analytics wasn't one of them. Don't think I've ever had to enable that to make something work...

M.

0
0

The weirdly-synched life of the Google Nest household

Martin an gof

Re: The basket is likely more fragile than all the eggs...

I don't know what the design lifetime of a Google Thing might be

Certainly not 25 years, particularly if you are talking backend support rather than just physical robustness... even the BBC has noticed. Interesting round on Only Connect last night where the sequence went:

Health (2008 - 2011)

Answers (2002 - 2006)

Reader (2005 - 2013)

Wave (2009 - 2010)

What's the connection? Just add "Google". Victoria Coren-Mitchel's comment afterwards was her usual standard, too; "that's good, now we know all our private medical information is safe and secure!"

M.

3
0

Chromecast video on UK, Euro TVs hertz so badly it makes us judder – but Google 'won't fix'

Martin an gof
Boffin

Re: "it is very hard to accurately identify the incoming frame rate"

I think Google are complaining about the incoming video stream. As others have pointed out, this doesn't seem to be a problem for other players, and I suspect that it isn't actually a problem for the Chromecast because after all if it chose 60fps for everything then it wouldn't be adding frames to pad a 50fps source to 60fps, it would be playing a 50fps at 60fps and therefore at a noticeably faster speed!

I'm not hugely familiar with HDMI but isn't there some data coming back from the display listing resolutions and frame rates available?

Yes, there is. This also applies to DVI. I have had cause to examine it quite closely in my work with using Raspberry Pis as video players (oh, there's a £30 device that can sort itself out with regard to frame rates).

http://elinux.org/RPiconfig#Video

(Particularly the bit underneath the long list where it shows how to get the Pi to read the data out of the connected device)

Essentially it is possible to query a device connected via HDMI or DVI and it will reply with a list of "CEA" and/or "DMT" modes which it supports. It will also flag up which of those is its native mode. CEA modes are only usually found on devices designed as televisions as they are oriented towards common video standards, while DMT modes are found on both TVs (usually) and computer monitors.

I believe a similar facility exists for devices connected by VGA cable (cf the fact that your OS will give you a list of resolutions supported by your VGA-connected monitor or projector), but as the Pi doesn't output VGA I can't be specific.

Of course the Pi is even more flexible than that:

CVT Support

M.

13
0

The cloud that goes puff: Seagate Central home NAS woes

Martin an gof
Happy

Re: Arm and a leg?

I guess you must shoot a lot more video than I do

Put it this way, we came back from a week in North Wales last May with some 31GB of photos and videos between us. Among other things, middle son had been competing at the Urdd Eisteddfod and so by the time I'd edited the film of that together with some - how shall I put this - more "professional" video of the same event, the total amount of data stored for that week stood at around 47GB. Some of this is duplicate files which could now be lost I'm sure, and if I were being *really* ruthless maybe I could cull another couple of hundred MB of out-of-focus photographs.

But then some child would murder me; "I really liked that photo of the chicken that was so out of focus it looked like an orange football"...

And that's it. The 1TB currently in use on the NAS is 90% self-generated photos and videos.

Fact of life these days I think. Certainly takes up less space in a cupboard than the boxes and boxes of 35mm negatives, prints, transparencies, Hi8 and DV video tapes, rolls of 8mm film and crates of home-recorded cassettes that I have generated over the last 40 years or so, and despite the problems it is eminently more back-up-able. Scans and digitised copies of old media makes up much of the remaining 10%.

M.

1
0
Martin an gof
Pint

Re: Having gone through this myself

We have a TS412 at work with 4 drives in RAID6. It has always been on an industrial-strength UPS (APC 3KVA jobbie in the top of the rack which does boost and buck as well as pure sinewave UPS duties for the NAS, a couple of switches, two PCs and a server) and yet a month or so ago I tried to log into the management interface (spit) to find the unit "frozen".

Clean reboot being impossible I had to force the thing to power down and when I went to the room to do that I noticed two of the drives were flashing red.

After a reboot the array was "degraded" and although the two offline drives checked out absolutely fine in SMART tests, *nothing* would persuade the unit to add them back into the array. I tried the help forums ("have you tried hot swapping the drives?") and the manual was particularly useless "once you've sorted out the dodgy disc the array will rebuild". Like heck it does.

In the end I did a "full surface scan" on both discs (simultaneously) and as soon as the first one had finished (about four hours later - 1TB drives) the rebuild started. The second disc also passed the scan with no errors, but wasn't added back to the array until the first rebuild had finished, whereupon a second rebuild started. In all from pressing "scan" to getting a fully functional array back took somewhere around 28 hours (can't remember offhand).

Until your post I thought I was unique - I haven't managed to find anything so exactly similar on the Qnap forums!

M.

(Beer - because I sympathise)

1
0
Martin an gof
Alert

Re: Arm and a leg?

I reckon a 4TB upload would take about 3 weeks at 20Mbps

Sounds about right, but how many people have a reliable, 24-hour 20Mbps uplink speed?

In my own case, I have about 1TB of important personal data to store. Most cloud services designed for home users top out at 1TB and given that we're generating perhaps 300GB or more a year at the moment (four children, each with a camera) you're starting to look at heavy duty commercial services if you really want to back *that* up to "the cloud".

Even Amazon Glacier works out expensive (in domestic terms) when you look at storing 1TB or more. It's, what, $0.01 per gig? Doesn't it also have data rate limits? I seem to remember that a colleague looked into it for some of the not-quite-vital-but-still-don't-want-to-lose data at work (with an assumption of 8TB) and realised that if we *did* lose the online NAS *and* the backup NAS and then had to restore from Glacier, the download charges would be extortionate. In this case, speed wasn't even an issue.

My uplink speed (semi-rural ADSL, single provider, no cable) is 448kbps. Cloud backup is simply *not viable*, either from a cost point-of-view or a practicality (speed) PoV.

Solution in progress: duplicate my FreeNAS box, synch the two at home, transfer box offsite and do incrementals. Bonus, offsite is my mum's and second box can then do Time Machine for her Mac, and backup to us.

That said, 1TB 2.5" WD Red drives aren't exactly cheap, and I intend to put 6 in each box...

M.

6
0
Martin an gof
Meh

The problem with "cloud" as backup in this context...

...is a: finding somewhere to store your 4TB of personal data that doesn't cost several limbs and b: getting that backup made when many domestic net connections uplink at well under 1Mbps.

Oh, and c: finding somewhere (if you worry about these things) that doesn't keep your data in the US and is therefore subject to US data (non)protection regulations.

M.

11
0

Ofcom snatches 700MHz off digital telly, hands it to mobile data providers

Martin an gof
FAIL

Re: PMSE shifting again?

Some of us have to make this stuff last decades - the paltry "if you bought it in the last 3 years" payment doesn't really help people who male stuff last.

Likewise. In the grand scheme of some of the respondents to that consultation (I've just skimmed the document) we have a paltry 30-odd radio microphones, but after the last sell off a couple of years ago I had to buy eight new channels of Sennheiser and retune 16 or so older Trantecs (the old Sennheisers couldn't be retuned because they had "run out of parts"!). That cost an arm and a leg and there's no budget to do it again any time soon. We're expecting perhaps 15 year life from our kit so the thought of replacing or retuning it all again isn't fun.

And there will be less spectrum available (and nobody will know where it is until the DTT frequency plan is sorted), so we might not be able to have a whole 24MHz as we do at present and Ofcom's suggestion that better RF design with low intermodulation transmitters or digital systems will help is just taking the mickey - for Pete's sake for a small concern like ours buying good quality FM systems is expensive enough. Good quality digital is extortionate.

Aargh!

M.

2
0

Want a more fuel efficient car? Then redesign it – here's how

Martin an gof
Unhappy

LED lighting

I understand their efficiency and, as the owner of a Renault Modus where you can't change some of the front lamps without taking the battery out or the wing off I do understand the appeal of never having to replace them, but LED lights are - aside from inconsiderate drivers - probably the thing that most annoys me on the roads these days. Rear light clusters which combine side and brake lights by pulse-width modulating the LEDs are really distracting and I often find that my attention is in the wrong place, or that I have a trail of red dashes across my vision when I'm trying to drive carefully.

Some manufacturers use a much higher refresh rate than others which does reduce the effect, but... grrr...

Oh, and don't get me started on over-bright and over-white LED "driving lights" at the front which are constantly on (thanks to some regulation or other) and are not really a problem in daylight or in the night, but are an absolute menace at dawn and dusk.

M.

16
4

Top Gear Tigers and Bingo Boilers: Farewell then, Phones4U

Martin an gof
Meh

Re: Slides don't surprise me

I've always found, with all sales reps (not just phones) that they'll only ask if you want help, if you do not want it. The moment you walk into a store and go "I need help doing something" you will never find a salesperson to give you a hand.

Exactly the same here. I think it's the fact that if you appear to be wandering aimlessly ("just browsing") they imagine that they can "guide" you in what to buy, and perhaps persuade you to buy something better - for their sales figures - than you might actually need.

If, on the other hand, you look purposeful on entering the shop, go straight to the shelf you need, begin comparing prices online and have specific questions about one or two particular devices they know that they have no chance, because you have already decided - pretty much - what you want and can't be persuaded otherwise. In the case of technology shops, there's also the likelihood that the sales reps know less about the product than you do, and they may realise that they can't fob you off with semi-accurate answers, or even downright lies.

It's not just technology shops, we had the exact same experience a few years ago looking for a new car. Wanted to look at a Polo in a VW dealer, dealer reluctantly came over to show us how to open the boot (wasn't obvious) but wandered away immediately s/he (can't remember) realised that we had a particular model in mind and weren't open to being persuaded further up the model range. We never had a chance to ask questions about servicing, miles per gallon, finance options and suchlike. Other dealers weren't quite so bad, but still not what we were hoping for in 2011 when sales of anything were sluggish at best.

Best experience? Richer Sounds. There, they actually like it if you go in knowing pretty much what you want and have already checked online if it's in stock. There is some mileage in them selling you something more expensive than you really need, but their main aim is to get as many sales through the till in as short a time as possible and I've always found them (Cardiff stores) very helpful.

M.

0
0

Monitors monitor's monitoring finds touch screens have 0.4% market share

Martin an gof

Re: Replacement cycle....

If they also have touch screens and are "open frame" (or at least will fit in our setwork) then maybe.

Touchscreens in setwork (not terribly brilliant photos, sorry):

One 17" unit (foreground)

Three 19" units, portrait mounted

M.

0
0
Martin an gof
Meh

Re: Replacement cycle....

@1st Dave: yes, but how many of those are left on "standby" overnight rather than being properly switched off? How many of them are actually "on" for the full 8 hours, rather than occasionally going into standby when the user leaves them alone for five minutes?

It seems to us (across *lots* of bits of kit) that one of the things that kills power supplies is being disconnected from the mains. Great example: the original projectors I mentioned usually failed - if we hadn't already removed them because of the LCDs - due to the "bootstrap" capacitors in the PSU. So long as the thing was connected to the mains and merely switched between "standby" and "on" every day, they were fine, but open up the back to replace the lamp, thus physically disconnecting the power (there was a door switch) and they would often refuse to start up again.

As I said, most of our monitors are on switched power circuits. When the visitors leave at 5pm the video players are stopped (and go into a kind of standby) and a couple of minutes later dirty great contactors remove power from probably 80% of the exhibition. If a monitor is going to fail, it will often be the following morning when it fails to turn back on.

So the 5 - 6 years at 8 hours I suggested is what I see here when you include (repairable / replaceable) PSU faults. As I mentioned, probably a bit longer if you exclude PSU failures. Put it this way, I *think* from memory that there is currently a stack of about a dozen monitors waiting to be taken away by our WEEE people, and several have already left the premises. The rate of failure seems to have increased in the last year or so. In the context of 9 years and (somewhere in the region of) 60 monitors of all types, I'm not sure what to think.

M.

0
1
Martin an gof
Unhappy

Re: Replacement cycle....

"5-6 years seems very low!"

Remember that these units are on some 8 hours a day. Many are hard-powered down (switched mains circuits) at the end of the day, which some power supplies don't like, others are left powered-up so go into standby when the signal disappears. As I said, most of the failures are power supplies and fortunately for us, most of the power supplies are external 12V bricks so replacement is very easy. The actual display part of the monitor maybe lasts a bit longer but our 17" Neovos (not touchscreen, but must have S-video inputs) do seem to suffer from backlight loss and screen fade quite a lot. Neovo is not a cheap brand.

You think that's bad, just consider the fact that all bar five of the originally-installed 30-ish projectors here were LCD models. It seems that many people aren't aware that LCD panels and their associated dichroic colour filters have expected lifespans in the 4,000 - 8,000 hour range. In fact the original projectors here had a manufacturer listed lifespan of 4,500 hours. In our terms that's not even two years before they need replacing!

Turns out that the cost of replacing the "optical block" in these original projectors was significantly higher even if DIY'd than the cost of buying a nice new Panasonic DLP with higher brightness, higher availability (two lamps), twice or three times the lamp life (so lower running costs) and a rated lifespan of around 20,000 hours.

Sorry, rather far OT there ;-)

As for using reconditioned monitors, it's a possibility for the 17" units (fortunately we can still - just - get 19" units to the same spec) but it's not a long-term solution. Long term solutions involve ripping the display out and starting again (new setwork, new content, new software) which isn't going to happen in the current "financial climate".

M.

0
0
Martin an gof
Boffin

Re: Replacement cycle....

@John Robson: "And what's the typical lifespan of a monitor?"

Maybe averaging 5-6 years (if you include power supplies, longer if not) at my place of employment, where we operate quite a lot of monitors (touch and non-touch) in a museum setting. Usual failures are power supplies (often replaceable as many of our monitors use external supplies) or backlights (less easy to fix) and occasionally the things "just die". From memory we've only had perhaps two or three where the monitor was ok but the touchscreen part stopped working. They are mostly powered up for around 8 hours a day, so that's quite a lot of hours in total.

As the museum was opened nine years ago, we have already had to replace a fair percentage.

Less obviously, as the museum was opened nine years ago, it's getting more and more difficult to find replacement monitors that fit the setwork - 17" 4:3 1280x1024 monitors with DVI and hard glass are particularly difficult (anyone know a supplier?).

I wonder how much of the 0.4% is sales to places like us, replacing existing units or installing new units in a "kiosk" type setting, rather than sales to individuals who will use them for "work"?

M.

1
0

Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts

Martin an gof
Unhappy

Re: Real coding!

Nope, it just refuses to acknowledge that there's even a disc there. I suppose that what the manual claims is UDF might not actually *be* UDF. Even tried recovery/cloning utilities such as Clonezilla without luck.

M.

0
0
Martin an gof
Boffin

Re: Real coding!

How do you read udffs in Linux if it's on an HDD? I've been trying for ages. We have some old Fostex hard disc-based audio recorders that use this format and I can't read the discs, whatever I try. At the moment the only way to re-install the things is to format the discs in the machine (takes - literally - all night for an 80GB HDD) and then upload audio files over FTP (for those machines with network interfaces) using the player's highly unreliable and slow FTP server. 16 or 20 tracks of 15 minutes or so each takes at least a whole day, and if number <n-1> fails, you have to start all over again.

I would *love* to be able to image the existing discs using (say) dd...

M.

0
0

BOFH: The current value of our IT ASSets? Minus eleventy-seven...

Martin an gof

Re: Sharon T. Pokeworthy...

Readers even older will remember 01 811 8055

M.

1
0

What a whopper, LG: Feast your eyes on this 77-inch bendy TV

Martin an gof
Thumb Down

Some sensible comments above - but then this is The Register.

1: Plasma still beats any LCD screen hands-down for colour, especially off-axis. I have several off-axis tellies at work, and it's getting bloomin' difficult to find plasmas these days. At home? I still have a 23" Sony Trinitron and I'm not replacing it until it expires, unless OLED tellies become available a: at 30 - 40" sizes and b: at LCD prices.

OLEDs used to have very short (compared with LCD) expected lifespans, I wonder if that has changed? Plasma's Achilles heel is screen-burn.

2: lots of pixels (like that silly LG phone I've just read about) are all about "mine is bigger than yours". It would make a much more difference for most people to stay with 1920x1080 and instead up the frame rate. Just going to 100p would make a heck of a difference and probably not use any more bandwidth than 4k@50i. On top of that it would remove the need for all the "interpolation", "frame doubling" and so on processing. We find at work(*) that the quality of the telly's processing that makes the biggest difference to percieved picture quality when viewing video sources.

M.

(*)Most of the tellies at work are showing output from computers, but occasionally they are used for television. Upscaling SD to HD really sorts the men from the boys on units which have similar panels.

2
0

Motorola Moto E: Brill budget blower with one bothersome blunder

Martin an gof

Re: I don't see this as a problem.

Nobody's mentioned the possibility of using a front-facing camera for sign-language. Given that they've skimped on the rear camera (if this one's worse than that on the G it must be awful) they could have put something very basic on the front for a quid or two extra. It's all marketing, isn't it?

M.

1
2

Mae Microsoft yn addysgu Swyddfa, Bing, siarad Cymraeg*

Martin an gof

Re: Gorsaf Station

Or today's fun. I wandered into a supermarket in town:

"Welcome to Morrisons Caerphilly"

"Croeso i Morrisons Bae Caerffili"

Caerphilly Bay? Bring me my sun lounger, I'm off to the beach(*).

Hwyl!

M.

(*)Caerphilly is about eight miles inland from the Severn Estuary, with a dirty great morraine between it and the Cardiff flood plain. Even the local river - the Rhymney - avoids as much of the town as possible.

0
0
Martin an gof

Re: 380Z

That 380Z was in the second science lab built above the new changing rooms of the Aberbargoed site. No fancy names for "blocks" in them days, and of course it is now a primary school.

Showing my age there - I was the first intake to that school in 1982, all 153 of us with 12 teachers. Very interesting then that my eldest son is in the first intake to the new secondary in Caerphilly. 90-odd of them this time.

Hwyl!

M.

1
0
Martin an gof
Flame

Re: Welsh for Office already exists...

OT, sorry. <rant>

There is a subtle difference between mandatory second-language teaching in English-medium schools (which can, I thoroughly agree, appear to be a waste of time), and choosing to send your child to a Welsh-medium school where Welsh is used as a first language.

Yes, some parents probably choose Welsh-medium as a way of avoiding the local sink-school in the same manner that some other parents (in Wales or England) will choose the local Church school in preference. Others choose it because of the whole (largely invented by Victorians) cultural thing, and a few may choose it because it's a fact that you have a lot better chance of a job in the public sector or the media in Wales if you are fluent in Welsh and have already done the "networking" at school. Given that there's not a fat lot else work-wise in Wales at the moment, "every little helps" as they say.

Still others have read the literature from other bilingual cultures around the globe (and there are quite a lot of them) and have realised that being first-language fluent in two or more languages actually conveys cognitive benefits that are simply not available to monoglots. It is an interesting fact that children in Welsh-medium education perform (a little) better (on average) than their peers in English-only schools.

And so you end up with situations such as that in Caerphilly where I live where up until 1982 there were no Welsh-medium secondary schools in the borough. In 1982 a school opened which now has 1,300 pupils, and another one has opened this year which will itself hold about 1,000 pupils (from just three feeder primaries) once it is fully-populated.

At the same time, English secondary schools are being amalgamated or closed. In Caerphilly town itself there were three secondaries. Some ten years ago, one of them closed. The buildings on one site are now a Welsh-medium primary school (see below) and the other site has now been taken over by the Welsh secondary. Further expansion of this site will see one of the other Welsh-medium primaries move sometime in the next year or so.

Of the three feeder primaries in Caerphilly town, one did not exist ten years ago but now has two-form entry (65 pupils entering each year). One moved to a new site five or six years ago and is already full, and the other is moving onto the same site as the new secondary because it also is moving to two-form entry and cannot be accommodated in the existing buildings.

A little way out of town, the primary built by housing developers on a large local development, originally earmarked as an English school, was actually opened as Welsh-medium, and there are plenty more examples.

</rant>

To answer the point about teaching Welsh in English schools. I find it sad that people find this a waste of time, but then I personally found being taught football and rugby a waste of time and would rather have spent my time in the Physics lab or twiddling with the RML-380Z. It doesn't help that some of the teachers teaching Welsh have poor Welsh themselves and are merely keeping one step ahead of the class by reading the book the night before.

Of course, the teachers with good Welsh are in demand in the Welsh-medium schools :-)

Hwyl!

M.

4
0
Martin an gof

Re: Roadsigns

Obligatory links:

31 Hydref 2008

31 October 2008

6 July 2009

There are loads more - I found a website full of them the other day but can't find the link now.

M.

0
0
Martin an gof
Happy

Can't leave it alone

Welsh is an interesting language. I recently discovered cynghanedd.com and on it, another of those nice new Welsh words. The word for a USB memory device ("memory stick") is "cofbin". Not unlike my wife's favourite "popty ping" (microwave oven) or the backronym-esque "cryno ddisg" (compact disc).

Hwyl!

M.

1
0
Martin an gof
Meh

Re: Welsh for Office already exists...

There are also Welsh translations for Linux desktops, Open / Libre Office, Firefox and I think (but I don't use Windows) there used to be one for Windows (possibly in 95/98 days). The standard of Welsh (and the amount that is actually translated and doesn't have to fall back to English) is somewhat variable though.

The translation given for this article seems pretty good by comparison.

At work we also have a basic on-line translation service that (I think) is only accessible to public bodies. It's good for single words and short phrases, but it doesn't produce anything remotely acceptable for "official" use, even for temporary signs. For those, we have a translation department.

What used to annoy me at school in the 1980s / uni in the 1990s though was that while there was a Welsh-language word processor available on the BBC Micro (IIRC it was a variant of "EDWORD" called something like "SYLFAEN") and Acorn had gone to great lengths with RISC OS to include the non-standard glyphs y-circumflex and w-circumflex in their fonts (in the days long before they were standardised, in fact in the days before Microsoft even knew what an "outline font" was), even Welsh-language schools such as mine(*) were being "encouraged" to move to DOS/Windows and lose all that.

Hwyl!

M.

(*)For those who may not realise, in Wales it is possible to opt to send your children to a school which operates almost exclusively through the medium of the Welsh language rather than English. In some parts of Wales you don't get much of a choice, in other parts of Wales (such as the south-east where I live), Welsh-language schools are growing strongly while English-language schools are contracting.

3
0
Martin an gof
Boffin

The actual translation

Since no-one seems to have answered the actual question yet, "Microsoft teaches Office, Bing, to speak Welsh” should translate (I'd say) to "Mae Microsoft yn addysgu Office, Bing i siarad Cymraeg". Only one word missing, "i" == "to".

M.

2
0
Martin an gof
Happy

Re: The main point to remember here is...

"My point in my earlier post was that Welsh wasn't standard in places 70 miles apart which is hardly the same as saying that English isn't standard between places 3,000 miles apart (or more)."

ITYM "not standard in places 70 meters apart". Or, yn fy mhrofiad i, 70cm ar wahan.

My own Welsh is an eclectic mix of North, South, West and Valleys due to the eclectic mix of teachers I had in my school years. I work with people who use Welsh first, and in exactly the same way as English, every single one of them has their own dialect.

This is not a bad thing.

Hwyl!

M.

1
0

Google's Nest halts sales of its fire alarm – because waving your hand switches it off

Martin an gof
Stop

Re: I haven't had an alarm triggered by toast for 10 years

"Well the reason it needs firmware updates and connectivity is because it's more than just a smoke and CO2 detector, it's actually a secondary sensor for the Nest thermostat unit which adds additional ability to detect where you are in the house."

A thermostat plus PIR. Where's the need for an operating system? New houses these days are built with zoned heating systems which have separate upstairs and downstairs thermostats and can heat upstairs and downstairs separately and to different temperatures. Difficult to retrofit a zoned system though, and NEST doesn't do zoning.

"Another feature is the CO2 detector can shut down the boiler when it detects high levels of CO2, which is somewhat useful."

No it isn't. If it's actually a CO sensor (*not* CO2) then it might be useful if you have an open flue boiler - e.g. a "back boiler". Very nearly all boilers sold (certainly in the UK) for the last 25 years or more have been "room sealed" which means that if they go wrong and start emitting more CO than they should, it goes outside the house. The sort of person who would want to spend this sort of money on a bloomin' smoke detector is unlikely to have a boiler which dates from the 1960s or 1970s and would probably save *far* more money if they bought a new boiler than they ever would with a £120 thermostat.

The appliances which are liable to excessive CO emissions if badly (*very* badly) maintained are open flame gas fires or cookers, and I have *never* seen one of those controlled by a wall thermostat.

This reminds me of the Tesla Ubuntu thread: WHY???

M.

0
0
Martin an gof
Flame

Re: I haven't had an alarm triggered by toast for 10 years

Agreed - it is the fitting of inappropriate alarms that is the biggest issue. Granted it's a bit more difficult in retro-fit circumstances, but there are many, many different brands offering a variety of sensors, interconnect options (wired / wireless) and remote test / hush controls. Just check out the Kidde units at the top of this page (not particularly endorsing TLC, but I have used them over the years):

TLC-direct

There is a slight cost difference between ionisation and optical, but when we're talking about units that are £12 or £22 (that's with an alkaline backup - Lithium is more) it's hardly a fortune. How much was Nest's smoke alarm? I can't find a price...

And none of them needs connecting to the internet for "firmware upgrades". Why the heck would a simple sensor need a firmware upgrade?

It is something intrinsic to the American Way Of Life? (Off topic) Rather than sorting out the cause of a problem, for example some electrical fires, they cover the symptoms. How? The "arc fault circuit breaker" (not used anywhere else in the world AFAIAA) is there to try to detect high currents caused by loose connections. Why are there high currents and loose connections? Because the standard of US electrical fittings is often very poor.

Cause: inappropriate sensor, or inappropriately located.

Symptom: nuisance alarms

Incorrect Solution: make the sensor so easy to deactivate it could happen accidentally

Correct Solution: fit the correct sensor, or relocate

M.

2
1

Blurred lines: Android e-ink mobe claims TWO-WEEK battery life

Martin an gof
Boffin

Re: It's the radio

It's not the radio - per se - I think. 2G and 3G radios are actually quite efficient, it's all the apps within the phone that are constantly *using* the radio. My wife and I have recently acquired Moto G phones. Our first ever Android devices and we're not entirely happy, *but* my wife can manage 10 days on a battery charge and I usually manage 6 or 7. Not one of the reviewers we read managed more than 2 or 3 and for why? We have turned off (and disabled) all the twittering apps, the tracking apps, the "please tell Google exactly what I'm doing, where, every minute of every day" apps, the apps which tell you when your Facebooking friends(*) upload a new photograph of themselves sitting on the train and the other data-allowance-wasting apps(+).

So these apps are not constantly calling home, or using the GPS, or sucking data from next-door's WiFi, and so the radios (for there are many in a modern phone) can sit idle for most of the time. On top of that the 4-core processor can power down and slow down most of the time, just keeping enough going to listen for genuine communications from real people - i.e. telephone calls and text messages.

We don't make loads of calls, though we do text a fair bit. The main difference between my use and my wife's is probably that I use the web browser a bit more often. We've disabled Chrome and use Opera (yes, yes, I know the latest version is based on the same engine) but at least Opera stays out of your way when you don't want it and can reduce the amount of data per web page. We do take occasional photographs and video.

10 days would be about average for that use on a 2G or 3G "feature phone" - which is what we have always had previously - and while the G obviously does use more power (it's battery is about twice the capacity of most featurephone batteries) it isn't anywhere near as bad as people suggest.

I can't wait for the day when we no longer have to listen to Radio 4 presenters asking us to "tweet" the programme, or "follow it on Facebook" and that day will surely come, just as the day came when it was no longer considered mandatory to have a fax number or (before that) a telex address.

Old fogey? Me?

(*)Come to think of it, I can't actually name any friends who *do* use Facebook, or who tweet regularly.

(+)we have a 250MB monthly data allowance and rarely use more than a fifth of that. I had a phone bill today; £18 (inc VAT) for the two phones. £6 a month rental (+VAT) and a few extra bits.

7
0

Page:

Forums