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* Posts by Dave 126

4212 posts • joined 21 Jul 2010

Review: Samsung Series 5 Ultra Touch Ultrabook

Dave 126
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>Given the glacial uptake I can't help but think the major laptop makers are missing a trick in not offering a pre installed viable alternative to Windows 8

Well, the jury is out on the cause for this slow uptake of new laptops...

Many people don't like the look of Windows 8

Other folk are in no rush, and are so happy to wait to see how their friends get on with Win 8 over a longer period of time, or if Microsoft release a 'service pack' that makes it more to their liking. They might even be waiting to see how Chromebooks develop before recommending one to a family member.

At the the same time, many people already own a computer that serves their purposes perfectly well.

Some people are finding that for their purposes, a tablet is good enough.

Some other people are feeling skint.

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Dave 126
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Re: Caps Lock?

PS

I was almost tempted to cannibalise an external USB keyboard to create a 'Caps-Lock Indicator USB Dongle', but I didn't bother in the end!

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Dave 126
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Re: Caps Lock?

My mother had a Toshiba laptop that had no Caps-Lock indicator, and its absence annoyed the hell out of her. I really don't know what the designers were thinking. There is some software available that will place a Caps Lock indicator in your Windows Taskbar, but in the end she just bought a new laptop.

On a more general note, the Caps-Lock key is overly large given how infrequently it is used... all the other larger keys on my keyboard, such as Space, Return, Enter, Shift, Backspace etc are used very often indeed. I really wouldn't mind if Caps-Lock was relegated to a small key above Esc.

(In a mail room in which I used to work, there was a PC with one function- using a DOS-based piece of software to generate and print courier labels... it was a very fast, keyboard-only interface - unless I accidentally hit the 'Insert' key. Eventually I prised the offending key out of the keyboard and Sellotaped it to the keyboard. It is not only software that can be tailored to suit the user!)

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Hot new battery technologies need a cooling off period

Dave 126
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Re: The battery is only one part of the problem

>The REAL problem is charging the things in the time scale of a petrol/diesel tank re-charge. And that's never going to happen.

That's an issue for longer trips, but many people's commutes are shorter than the current range. For longer journeys, a small diesel car is suitable - and diesels are more efficient on long journeys anyway.

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The Tomorrow People jaunt back to the airwaves

Dave 126
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Re: Jaunting?

I enjoyed "The Demolished Man", but I must have been sleepy when I got to the last chapter - I felt like I missed something in the ending. I should give it another go.

Again, it is set in a near-future in which society has adjusted to many people having psychic powers.

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Dave 126
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Re: Jaunting?

Curiously for Sci-Fi that concerns itself with 'the next step in human/sentient entity evolution', The Stars My Destination is set in a world where everybody has developed the ability to teleport themselves, and society has adjusted to this. In the book, everybody can 'jaunt', within a certain distance (so spaceships are still required) and that they know where there are going. As a consequence, terrestrial vehicles are toys not necessities, and rich people use labyrinths to protect their privacy.

Alfred Bester's short stories also explore consequences of people possessing powers they don't understand, in a serious way... I can't help but think his experience as a sports writer (young people gifted with 'special' physical abilities, etc) influenced his subject matter.

Well recommended.

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Phones for the elderly: Testers wanted for senior service

Dave 126
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Big buttons

The following link is for a big buttoned flip phone, with fairly large spaces between the keys. I am not recommending it purely because I haven't owned or used it - but the dummy unit I picked up in a shop suggests that it might be worthy of further consideration for people who claim to have 'sausage fingers':

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Motorola-Gleam-Sim-Free-Mobile-Phone/dp/B006Z3D2SI

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Dave 126
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Re: Concierge?

My first thoughts were of that Vertu service, too.... specifically, how does Mr Rockwell deal with 'mission creep'? Once could imagine people ringing up to have text messages sent to relatives, but also to have tickets booked on their behalf, the weather forecast read to them, or £20 put on a horse...

I would imagine that to begin with, he'll want to avoid the headache of keeping payment details secure, and avoid the negative publicity that might come from 'offering exclusive deals to our clients".

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Dave 126
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Re charging

Good point - I'm in my thirties and I find microUSB connectors a bit of a faff. I know that they are D shaped, but still I need to look closely to work out which way I need to plug them in.

MicroUSB requires both good eyesight and digital (as in fingers) dexterity. I haven't used the iPhone 'Lightening' connector, but it would appear to be a better design than microUSB - unidirectional, and rounded edges (unlike the sharp edges of stamped metal found on USB)

Purely for charging, an old 'Nokia charger' plug is nice and easy to insert. I haven't used any wireless charging solution, but assume that it would be a good feature for this market.

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Dave 126
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>What a dumb idea. Seriously dumb, not to mention insulting to your target market.

By definition, his target market don't read The Register. A significant percentage of our older population have never been on-line- something that has implications for government services and ultility companies that only offer their best rates to on-line customers.

>Being a senior citizen doesn't mean you suddenly become dumb as a brick, what it is likely to mean is impared eye-sight and/or hearing.

Ageing affects people differently. Most people will suffer poorer eyesight at some point - and for those, a conventional flip-phone with large buttons will be the good solution, or perhaps one of the phones designed for the elderly market

However, some of us might develop chronic arthritis, or perhaps one of the many forms of Alzheimer's, to one degree or another. Many studies suggest that if people with Alzheimer's are surrounded by the trappings of their youth - interior decor, music etc* - they are happier and less likely to be confused, so replicating the familiar 'Hello operator, please connect me to...' experience of their youth is a good idea.

*There is a elderly care home /community in Holland, I believe, with an entire street set out as it might have been several decades ago. The shops are real, but with products and layouts reminiscent of the 1950s, and is used by members of the public and not just residents. Should a resident have a funny five minues and wander out of a shop without paying it is no problem, the shop keeper just makes a friendly phone call to a carer.

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Lego X-wing fighter touches down in New York's Times Square

Dave 126
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Re: Now let's see

Speaking of the Imperial Forces, RIP to the actor Darth Vader choked:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/richard-leparmentier-admiral-motti-in-star-wars-8590594.html

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Dave 126
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Re: Surely there's some armature?

@Mongo - good point

@Don Jefe - Thanks for the info

Though the following article is about compressive strength, so doesn't apply to cantilevered structures, it is still a quick fun read:

http://gizmodo.com/5965451/how-tall-can-a-lego-tower-be-before-it-crushes-itself

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'Catastrophic failure' of 3D-printed gun in Oz Police test

Dave 126
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Re: Wait for the first "hacked" printable gun

>The same as we shouldn't trust open source software?

My understanding that, is with sufficient knowledge and time, you can examine open-source software and determine that it does what it is says it will do. (though I remember a commentard once saying malicious code can be hidden - whatever, its a bit beyond me)

To test whether plans for a physical object will perform as planned is very very hard to do virtually. It would require simulation of the explosion -high pressures and temperatures, fluid dynamics- and FMEA of the printed parts, all at the same time (mechanical properties of the parts change with temperature)... complex doesn't begin to describe it. Ultimately, you would have to 'print' a large batch and test them in the real world.

All the simulation software I've seen come with the disclaimer - "This software is designed to reduce testing, not replace it" - ie, its aim is to rule out the more unlikely designs, so one can prototype and test the more promising designs in the real world.

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Dave 126
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Re: Not a hivemind

>from this admittedly small sample has shown that the chances of such a gun not working as intended is one in two,

Hopefully that at least might deter some would-be killers from trying to use one... until someone releases 3D printing blueprints for a really good prosthetic hand!

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Dave 126
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Re: "The point is it has now been shown these things deliver a bullet with lethal speed. "

I get the impression people are too taken by the 'just Ctrl-P to print a gun', when it isn't the most suitable process for the job. This goes for quite a few other '3D printing' applications, too.

Just watching the way this printed 'gun' disintegrates in the video illustrates the inherent weakness in having a round hole in a series of strata... that much at least will be familiar to anyone who has worked with wood, which is also has a 'grain'.

There are some ways of achieving a concentric 'grain' structure around the chamber and barrel (I'm thinking more of stopping someone from losing their fingers, rather than helping them shoot somebody) of this 'gun' without any special tools... it's just that deposition-based additive manufacturing isn't the way to do it.

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Kim Dotcom claims invention of two-factor authentication

Dave 126
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Re: A US Patent?

I've always liked this one:

http://amadeatravel.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/funny-world-map-as-america-sees-it.jpg

Canada: Shitty Music and Bears

USA: Freedom and Jesus

Central America: Tequila and Porn (the bad kind)

South America: Drugs and Supermodels

.... you get the idea : D

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BMW offers in-car streaming music for cross-Europe road trips

Dave 126
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Re: Poor man's Radio 4 solution

Or... spend £20 on a shortwave radio receiver, and use line-in to your car stereo to listen to BBC World Service... has many of the same current affairs and documentary output of Radio 4, but without the R4 cruft.

Just a thought!

If you want spoken-word content, and don't mind 'loading up' before you set off on your travels, you could do worse than download MP3s (at around 25MB/hour) from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/ (the 'Australian Radio4' but not as smug - 'The Science Show' and 'Late Night Live' being particularly good. ) Or maybe you haven't exhausted the In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg yet? : D

Thank you for bringing these stream-compression services to our attention!

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Dave 126
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Re: Why when Radio is already free?

>What's so bad about DAB?

- Batteries in portable DAB radios don't last very long

-The codec used in DAB doesn't sound very nice

-In areas of poorer reception, the sound of DAB breaks up in a way that is more unpleasant than poor FM

- It is fragmented across countries

- The price of DAB receivers has never come anywhere close to that of FM radios.

Since current DAB adoption is currently poor, we may as well skip it and adopt streaming of radio content: The sound quality can be better, and it offers thousands of stations, not just dozens. We are not all at that stage yet, but we might be close in a few years.

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Dave 126
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Re: Another retarded music service begging for an audience, fools and their money...

>Why not provide REAL VALUE and offer a straight 3G/4G INTERNET CONNECTION with no roaming or data rate charges that would let you use multiple streaming services AND have in car WIFI hotspot capability, telephony, etc etc etc??????????

Because that would impact on sales of traditional phone-based data tariffs. What makes this deal acceptable to Vodaphone is that it is tied to one specific service- the customer will still be paying a separate bill to Vodaphone (or a competing network) for their phone's data allowance for email and internet browsing etc.

>Nooooo, that would make too much sense. As to "digital radio" again this is ONLY a plot to take away simple terrestrial radio, let's take a mature product, put a new name on it, fuck up the signal quality so it sucks so bad we can sell them on shit that works even worse.

Which is exactly why I welcome this product as a step in the right direction - with luck, music streaming will, in time, render DAB obsolete, and maybe we will be allowed to keep FM. I like FM, the equipment is reliable and batteries in a portable radio last for weeks.

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Dave 126
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Re: WOW

>Only those for whom '(money > sense) == true', methinks.

Maybe, but then they have already paid thousands of pounds more for a car than they strictly have to... so one assumes they won't miss the money. Then imagine how much they have spent on their home HiFi system...

I f paying a couple of hundred for DAB and getting a few dozen more stations (not necessarily in your language or to your taste) is justifiable, how is then spending an extra few hundred for hundreds of streamed stations a sign of idiocy?

(My car- not a BMW- is the one with the the £50 Lidl stereo, featuring an SD card and USB port, line in, FM radio and CD player - the latter never used. Loads of albums on the SD card, the USB socket is ideal for charging my phone since the fag lighter socket is playing up. Line in for when I really want to stream a podcast from my phone. Sorry - I just wanted to mention something that was modestly priced, useful and good at what it does)

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Dave 126
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>great idea, one small problem. how is a flat fee of £300 going to pay for the costs to BMW? The roaming charges alone for a days use would be more than that.

From the article:

"What's unusual and interesting about the deal is that it includes 3G access to the music - via Vodafone's mobile network - across Europe"

So, one assumes that BMW have made a deal with Vodaphone... and Vodaphone would rather make some money from this system than make no money at all (which is what would happen if they insisted on their usual roaming fees - since nobody would then bother with it). Since it is tied to one service (music) it is not 'cannibalising' the data tariffs they sell for phones.

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Dave 126
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Re: Why when Radio is already free?

>I just dont get it. Any data dongle can stilll do that and beam it into the stereo system !

Answered in the article:

"you can get Rara's music catalogue and playlists, without any extra charges - particularly roaming charges - or extra cables or devices. "

If you used a dongle without being careful, you could arrive home to a massive roaming phone bill. Whilst you can stream to your car stereo with extra devices, it is not as convenient as having it integrated with the car - both for ease of use (safety) and connection to the car's aerial.

I've been hoping that this is the way things are going - so we can all forget about DAB.

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Smartwatch face off: Pebble, MetaWatch and new hi-tech timepieces

Dave 126
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Re: Micro USB charging

>I had a 200m G-Shock crap out on me in the shower, once, for exactly that reason.

I've had a 200m Gshock repaired under warranty following a high fall onto concrete - when I got it back the strap was mouldy because they had pressure-tested the waterproofing after making the repairs, but not dried it out afterwards. I'm not sure that the watch battery shop on the high street does that! (Casio did replace the strap, too)

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Dave 126
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Re: Wrist-based technology needs two hands ...

Um, you don't have to let go of whatever your left hand is holding just because your right hand touches your left wrist. Or vice versa.

You don't have to touch your watch to read it.

Tiny buttons? The rotating bezel (a method of user input) on my watch is larger than any buttons found on my phone- and is a far quicker and convenient way of reminding myself when to take my dinner out of the oven than using a phone timer. There are other ways a watch could accept user input, too - such as shaking it or tapping the watch face.

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Dave 126
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Re: Why bother?

>How many hands do you need to use a watch?

Zero, if you are just glancing at it to see what a notification is.

>How many hands do you need to use a phone?

One, usually, but it has to retrieved from a safe place - a pocket or bag - and returned there when finished.

>If you are standing on a train/bus or holding a cup of coffee - you cannot use a smart watch

Fair enough, on the occasions that it is easier to use your phone, you can still use your phone. That doesn't mean that the phone will always be the easiest option - a cyclist would find easier to tell the time from a wristwatch than they would by pulling a phone from their pocket, locating the screen lock button to display the time and then returning the phone to their pocket.

>A smart watch is not as smart as a Rolex for example, in fact it is rather untidy in comparison

Fair enough - though I'm not Rolex's biggest fan, I think a useful smartwatch could be made that doesn't draw attention to itself. I'm thinking of that Tissot Touch watch, when tapping 3 o'clock made its hands rotate to indicate altitude, touching 6 o'clock made them act as a compass, 9 o'clock a thermometer etc... its appearance gave no clue as to its extra functions- it looked like any other analogue watch.

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Dave 126
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Re: Micro USB charging

Why not make the strap a cable with a male microUSB plug st the clasp? I'm sure I've seen something similar on Alibaba

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Fairphone goes on sale to all

Dave 126
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Re: "closing-time-at-a-dive-pub type ramblings got on national stages "

>What's politically correct about using materials that weren't produced using slave/forced labour (which is what I understand "conflict free" to mean)?

Not so much about slave labour, its more about the arms which are bought with the proceeds of tantalum.

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Happy 23rd birthday, Windows 3.0

Dave 126
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Re: For people who knew no better

When I was still in primary school, the classroom a single Archimedes, a few of the lads had Amigas for games, my mate's dad, a hippy musical technology lecturer, had an Atari ST (and a MIDI guitar), and another friend's dad, a graphic designer, had a Mac. There was of course still a smattering of Spectrums, Vic 20s, C64s, Acorns, and a few 8 bit consoles.

Me? I had an 8086 Olivetti with no sound or game port! Still, over the next ten years I learnt quite a bit just getting it and its successors to play games... and eventually the games (X-Wing, Doom, System Shock, many more) came.

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Microsoft reveals Xbox One, the console that can read your heartbeat

Dave 126
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Re: Mattrick demonstrated starting up the console by saying "Xbox on,"...

Hehe! Alas, I believe the new Kinnect features fairly bog-standard noise cancellation techniques to discriminate between sound from the television, and sound coming from humans in the room... It wasn't implemented to avoid the situation you outline, but so that voice commands can be heard over the virtual explosions.

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Dave 126
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Re: Halo?

>>#1. "The shared graphic memory is exactly what people like Carmack have been waiting for."

>Can you expand on that please...?

I can't speak for Zot, but he may have been thinking of this interview with John Carmack (iD software - lead programmer of Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, Quake) discussing graphics architecture, memory, PCs vs Consoles and of course, his then-upcoming game Rage:

http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Editorial/John-Carmack-Interview-GPU-Race-Intel-Graphics-Ray-Tracing-Voxels-and-more

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Dave 126
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Re: XBox One == Creepy Snooping Apparatus

I would worry that someone has installed video cameras and microphones in the beer garden shrubbery to catch people discussing all manner of naughtiness - legal, finacial, sexual- but I don't.

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Dave 126
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Re: XBox One == Creepy Snooping Apparatus

>However Credit cards don't (yet) come weaponised with surveillance sensors such as cameras, microphones et cetera

Okay, Dougal, how do you 'weaponise' something with a sensor exactly?

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Dave 126
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Re: XBox One == Creepy Snooping Apparatus

>You give a fascinating variant on the nothing to hide, nothing to fear argument.

When I do get together with my friends to discuss the overthrow of Western civilisation, I prefer to meet in either a tent in the Sahara, or in a hollowed-out volcano - not in Ed's front room halfway through a Halo session.

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Dave 126
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Re: XBox One vs PS4

@mutatedwombat

Thanks for a clear, concise post. I think you're right to infer that the details of the whole offering ("online requirements, subscription services, etc") are likely to have a difference in peoples choice. As for the hardware differences, (and lets just hope that the Lowest Common Denominator doesn't bring down the quality of games) though my geeky side awaits Tomshardware analysing those hardware differences (since they are in the habit of examing the performance bottlenecks of gaming PCs).

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Dave 126
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Re: A behind the scenes look...

> Can't help but feel MS is putting too much emphasis on Xbox Live and not on Gaming itself.

For many gamers, it is all about the online multiplayer gaming. And those gamers pay, in the form of an Xbox Live Gold subscription. On those points, I would say that sorting out issues with XBOX Live (lag cheaters etc) is absolutely central to what MS are offering.

The games? Those are for the 3rd party developers to work out, not MS.

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Dave 126
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Re: BBC article revelations... XBox is not about games!

>MS abandons backwards compatibility once again. Must feel great to be an MS dev / partner / customer!

You really have gone full retard today...

Why would a dev care if people didn't keep playing DeathKill IV on their old machine and bought DeathKill V for their new console instead? They wouldn't care - they would welcome it.

The PS3 caught up XBOX 360's sales, despite most PS3 units not playing PS2 games... Guess what? Those people with PS2 games tended to own a PS2 console. Shocking, I know, but that's just that way it is.

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Dave 126
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Re: Oh don't be hard on them

>A suit is just an inanimate uniform for work

Unless you've read too much Iain M Banks...

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Dave 126
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Re: There's a lot more detail in the BBC article than here at the Reg which is surprising...

Eadon you cretin- the OP AC was expressing surprise that the BBC coverage had highlighted a (possibly significant) point when the Register had missed it. This point was not made on priviledged information as you suggest, but on already common knowledge.

Try putting your energy into different avenues for a month... if you see no improvement after that time, you should seek help.

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Dave 126
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Re: XBox One == Creepy Snooping Apparatus

>Unlike Google, MS have given user's data to the FBI/government without a warrant

From the FBI's persepctive, people who are sat at home playing video games with their mates are not of interest. People out on the street bombing, murdering and a smuggling... that's a different matter.

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Dave 126
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Re: Bah

>This console brings nothing new to the table, and if anything tries to hide the fact that it lacks anything new by drowning out the terrible console with added microsoft bloat.

One man's bloat is another man's features. Certainly the PS3 was always a more useful general purpose machine than the Xbox 360 (the Sony gave you Blu-Ray, fairly quiet operation, WiFi for media playback, iPlayer etc) so MS would be daft not to move in that direction.

For me, the striking thing is how similar Sony and MS's next gen offerings are- so I suspect it will be the details of implementation and polish that clinch it. Either that, or people are beyond caring which platform they adopt, and the 3rd party studios will benefit.

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Dave 126
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Re: Thats all we need

>More losers "pwning" people. FYI, nobody cares about you playing your game.

So you missed the news story this week about Nintendo trying to reclaim users' 'walk through' videos as a revenue stream? Do try and pay attention!

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Dave 126
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Re: Sir

>once upon a time it was all about the launch games :)

Yep. since before the Mario and Sonic days...

It used to be so, but at the launch of the PS3 Sony didn't seem to bother- I can't recall any big PS franchises making much of a splash. Now that this new Xbox and the PS4 have similar hardware (so more likely to share AAA 3rd party games), it might be less about the 'title exclusives' and more about the details... clearly MS have done well to recognise that Online Multiplayer could be better, which is but the first step to fixing it. d

Oh, and screw MS's Halo franchise - Bungie's 'Destiny' (available on both next gen platforms) is where its going to be at.

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The bunker at the end of the world - in Essex

Dave 126
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>"For Sale: 2 bed bungalow, needs some renovation, very large wine cellar."

I had believed the bunker outside Bath had been bought as a wine cellar, but it would appear that was only a proposal:

http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/wiltshires-secret-underground-city-the-burlington-nuclear-bunker

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COLD FUSION is BACK with 'anomalous heat' claim

Dave 126
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Re: Disgrace of the sort of comments

>Regardless of the character and its claims any scientific discovery should be judged without prejudice

I think people's only problem with the man's character is that he doesn't allow a fair scientific experiment, even one which doesn't require peeking inside the box.

Hell, many of us grew up admiring a crazy scientist who stole plutonium off Libyan terrorists : D

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Dave 126
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Re: Lost inventions

Yeah, I understand that he hinted on a radio interview that his family knew.

Just how rich did he want to be out of it? It seems he spent decades turning down millions of pounds for the hope of billions. He must have been very confident that nobody else would stumble across the formula whilst he was sitting on it.

If it existed, it is baffling that it hasn't been replicated. If it didn't exist, it is baffling that the military labs said it worked. One doesn't really want to suggest that it works and the military really know the formula, nor suggest that it didn't work and the military had their own reasons for saying otherwise.

Odd, odd, odd.

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Dave 126
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Re: Lost inventions

>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starlite

That really is an odd one... I remembered the demonstration on Tomorrow's World, and the military seem to think it works...

About 18 months after the Tomorrow's World appearance, Ward finally agreed to let Lewis run a series of tests, on condition that he wouldn't analyse Starlite's ingredients. The first thing Lewis and his colleagues did was fire powerful laser pulses at the material. There was little damage, despite the fact that each pulse contained 100 millijoules of energy. "That will drill holes in bricks," says Lewis.

Other tests at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico and the Atomic Weapons Establishment on the island of Foulness, UK, confirmed that Starlite was the real deal. At Foulness, researchers used an arc lamp, essentially a powerful tungsten bulb, to focus a huge amount of heat onto a small area of the material. Again an impressive performance: the material easily withstood temperatures of around 1000 °C, according to a 1993 article in the military publication International Defence Review.

-From issue 2864 of New Scientist magazine, page 40-43.

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Dave 126
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Re: No Brainer

BTW, Dick Smith is ace! In the early 1980s he served as the conductor aboard a London double decker bus which jumped 15 motorcycles. He would later serve twice as chairman of the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority Board!

His interview with broadcaster Philip Adams is wonderful, and hosted here:

http://castroller.com/podcasts/LateNightLive2/3226855

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Dave 126
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Re: No Brainer

Okay, okay... if he doesn't want to open his black box to scrutiny, it could just be left running for a period of time with several independent assessors monitoring the power in and power out. The volume of the box is known. If the box continues outputting power for a period of time beyond what one would expect of a battery or fuel cell, it will become interesting and worthy of further consideration (even if 'all' he has created is a better battery, it would be noteworthy but not world changing)

Until then, I'm assuming snake oil.

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Dave 126
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Re: Hmm...

"Keep an open mind, but no so open that your brains fall out" - Bertrand Russell

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Dell's PC-on-a-stick landing in July: report

Dave 126
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Re: Instant PC

>Aye, why use this when you have a smartphone in your pocket anyway?

Because you can plug this in to your telly, and control it using your phone from your sofa.

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