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* Posts by Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware

848 posts • joined 10 Oct 2006

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You’re NOT fired: The story of Amstrad’s amazing CPC 464

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Indeed, and IIRC Richard Russell went on to write the BBC Basic for Clive Sinclair's Z88.

But Howard Fisher knew Richard Clayton since college, so why wouldn't he give the job to a chum if the friend was sufficiently competent? I think Fisher specifically didn't want another version of BBC Basic.

Or perhaps he approached Russell but Russell wanted more money than Clayton did. Only Fisher knows that answer to that.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Me and my chums were suspicious of Amstrad too - entirely because its hi-fi kit was sounded so bad. But the micros turned out to be actually rather good. Numerous contemporary reviews confirm this.

I unfortunately never spent any serious length of time with a CPC beyond fiddling with one in (IIRC) Rumbelows, but my PCW 8256 - later upgraded to 512KB by pushing eight RAM chips into slots on the PCB - was a very solid bit of work both as a working machine and, thanks to a Head Over Heels port, a gaming box too. It was a darn sight more interesting to use and program than the Vax we Computer Dept made available to us first-year Physics undergrads.

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Aggregating 4G

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Aggregating 4G

Ought to be doable. You can already aggregate bandwidth on multiple Ethernet ports, and we used to do this sort of thing explicitly with ISDN.

The phone has to have a way of dynamically selecting IMEI/SIM combos in order to route calls and such appropriately, so the mechanism for routing requests over both links should be there, and for combining the data arriving down both pipes.

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The other end of the telescope: Intel’s Galileo developer board

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Review or plug for intel?

I can confirm that the Galileo has been hooked up to various switches, resistors, LEDs, jumpers and even an 8x8 matrix LED. In fact it's sitting here nicely pulsing some bulbs using PCM.

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Ian Williamson: The engineer who gave Sinclair his first micro

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Ablesdeal

That is indeed what Wikipedia says, repeating an idea raised in earlier biographies of Clive Sinclair and histories of Sinclair Research.

However, when Clive bought Ablesdeal, Radionics was on a high. It was more than two years away from the plunge into loss caused by the Black Band watch and the resultant involvement of the National Enterprise Board (NEB).

So in 1973, Sinclair didn't need to buy an off-the-shelf company as a parachute. That's not to say that's not the reason why he did buy Ablesdeal, only that that is an assumption applied by reporters more than ten years later, helped by the fact that Clive did indeed use Ablesdeal as a firm to jump to when Radionics went tits up.

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Haswell micro: Intel’s Next Unit of Computing desktop PC

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: No passive cooling!

Fair point. I should have made this clear in the review - it slipped out somehow. The NUC (new and old) is very quiet indeed, despite the active cooling.

The new one didn't intrude in the slightest despite being thrashed by PCMarks 7 and 8. The old one is used almost daily for video playback (HD) and doesn't disturb the proceedings at all.

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Bigger on the inside: WD’s Tardis-like Black² Dual Drive laptop disk

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Linux support... well, who can say?

The 1TB disk does not show up under Windows at all until the driver is installed. It doesn't show up when the drive is connected to a Mac - and I mean 'isn't listed', not simply 'doesn't auto-mount'.

Would Linux have a driver already installed for such a set-up? Maybe, but I suspect not. Still it will be worth looking at in due course.

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Sensors and sensibility: Quirky’s Spotter multi-purpose monitor module

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Was briefly enthused...

You can with the Imp dev kit (see review). Just set it up so your Pi or PC gets the data you need and produces the chart.

The only issue is, of course, that it's all mediated by server, so no joy if your broadband goes down, or their servers do. Imp's major clients mean server outage isn't likely (but not impossible), but how many ISPs can you be sure will be operational 24x7x365?

As for privacy, you can be too paranoid. Seriously, if someone's going to buy my home's temperature data, good luck to them. What are they going to do? Hit me with heating unit spam? Sorry guys, Amazon already does.

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Build your OWN Apple iBeacon with a Raspberry Pi

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Passbook

Interesting idea, Andy. I'll have to investigate that for a follow-up article.

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Apple’s iOS 64-bit iUpgrade: Don't expect a 2x performance leap

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

The article always said 'long integer', very deliberately.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: One wonders

FWIW, the point about the requirement for separate 32- and 64-bit libraries comes from Apple's own documentation, as does the claim that going 64-bit will deliver a performance boost of up to 2x. I believe Phil Schiller also made that claim during the iPhone 5s launch.

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UK micro pioneer Chris Shelton: The mind behind the Nascom 1

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Never seen details of the PgC7000, Would have liked a diagram.

So would I, but Chris no longer has any documentation, and I've not been able to track it down. If any Reg readers *do* possess PcG documentation, please pass it on to share. Email me through the byline link in the main article, please.

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Apple MacBook Air 11-inch 2013: Netbook with next-gen tech

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: 3rd review of an Air???

Lenovo review, since you mention 'em, in the queue as we speak.

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Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013: All’s well that Haswell

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Battery life

My 2010 MBP has never given me anything like 11 hours but it’s a machine I rarely use well away from a power source, so I’ve been called on to push it.

My basic rule for battery longevity is ‘only connect the charger when you need to’. I have wrecked too many batteries by leaving their hosts plugged in while in use.

Now, I operate off battery power whenever I can, even if I’m at home, close to a mains outlet. If I’m working and I need to recharge I will, but I prefer to do it overnight while the laptop’s asleep or powered down.

Bottom line: batteries are happiest when they’re used, so use them as much as you can.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: So why didn't you compare it?

Fair point. You’re looking at a score of around 2000 for the 1.GHz Coere 2 Duo-based 2012 11-inch Air.

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Ciseco Pi-Lite: Make a Raspberry Pi trip light fantastic with 126 LEDs

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: sudo echo $'The Register on Pi-Lite' > /dev/ttyAMA0

I'm pretty sure that's what I keyed in, and whatever I did key in did work. Carriage return, \r, not required here.

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Ten ancestors of the netbook

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Z88 anyone?

More a proto-tablet, I'd say, than a ur-netbook, which is why it's not included here. Or the Amstrad NC100, for the same reason.

However, the Amstrad NC200, a half-clamshell might be considered an early pre-netbook.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Standards Dropping

Oh well of you insist...

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Sord drawn: The story of the M5 micro

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: 4KB RAM ?

I used to code the 6809-based VELA, developed by one of my profs in Leeds University's Physics dept. It had only 4KB of Ram for data-logging code.

Thanks to my Dragon 32 background, I was the only student in the department who could code the darn thing as soon as I got my hands on it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Versatile_Laboratory_Aid

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The Lynx effect: The story of Camputers' mighty micro

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Geography is a bit screwed

Absolutely correct. That section of the article was based on a quick perusal of Camputers' addresses in StreetView, which has proved effective in other instances - and is cheaper and less time-consuming than a train journey.

One to watch next time.

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Ten serious sci-fi films for the sentient fan

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

AI almost made the cut but was dropped because it can't make up its mind whether it would really rather be a special effects movie. But it's not bad, and based on a Brian Aldiss book, so points for that.

I, Robot was an action movie. And rubbish.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

A Western in space, not serious sci-fi, and not on the list for that reason (Even though I quite like it, and Peter Hyams' other films; Capricorn One especially)

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Ermm...

Ahem... paragraph 6...

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Strange Days

That's a good call.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: No love for Dune?

I quite like Dune, but it's space opera, not sci-fi

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: s/10/20/

Westworld almost made the cut. Top 20 material for sure.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Sunshine vs Solaris

Sunshine looks pretty, but it's an hour and a half of boredom (crew, viewer) with a 20-minute slasher movie stuck on the end.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: What, no Alien?

Superior space horror, yes, but not superior sci-fi. Aliens - on the subject of the franchise - was rejected because it's an action flick. Ditto - on the subject of Cameron movies - Terminator and Terminator 2.

Prometheus might have made the list but for that 'boffins mutate, lose humanity, gain amazing strength' bit in the middle.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Silent Running

Silent Running was on the shortlist, but was ultimately rejected for making the author blub like a gurlie when he was eight.

Actually, it's not a bad film and would have made a longer list, if a tad mawkish.

Mind you, I can forgive Doug Trumbull for this, his directorial debut, because of the bravura special effects work he would later do.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Have to agree with most of these, though Zardoz does look very daft.

Moon is very good, but was nudged out of the final list. Would definitely be in a Top 15 or Top 20.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

I watched This Island Earth. Half the movie is spent flying to Metalluna, gawping at the effects, then flying straight back. Good 50s hokum, not great serious sci-fi.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Oh, and one other thing: Dark Star

Dark Star is superb. But a comedy, not a serious sci-fi fillum.

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Review: Intel 335 240GB SSD

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: no rating?

We've killed ratings because they're applicable only at the time the product is reviewed. Even a week later, when new kit or an update is out, the old figure might no longer apply. You can always skip to the Verdict for a quick run down of whether we like something or not.

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Review: Google Nexus 4

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Wot, no score?

Simple. We are no longer scoring products. Actually, we haven't done so since November 2012, but only on this and one other occasion has anyone noticed.

I decided scores, while handy for people who don't read reviews, are generally of little value. Scores are dynamic. Give a product a rating at one time, and mere weeks later it might warrant a different rating following the release of other products and/or updates for the reviewed one.

Look again at a reviewed product - as we might in a Ten... round-up - and it won't necessarily score the same second time around. That confuses some readers, if the comments are anything to go by.

So, no scores. If you feel strongly that you'd like them back, I'm open to persuasive advocacy. But for now, since one reviewer's 65 per cent can be another's 95 per cent, and both will change after a month or two, we will not be scoring reviewed products in standalone reviews.

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Motörheadphönes Overkill earphones review

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: An umlaut too far

Well spotted - and thanks for the heads-up. Fixed now.

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How to launch people into space...

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: "G-forces are simply acceleration induced by the Earth’s gravity"

True, but the result of a slip of the editor's cursor, not ignorance. The necessary reference to freefall has been put back.

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Kobo Glo illuminated e-reader review

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Resolution???

>Is the higher resolution any better?

Not so you'd notice at a glance. Side by side with a Kindle 4, you can probably see a difference, but that can be as much your choice of font as anything else, and you'd have to be looking for the difference.

Using the Kobo on the Tube every morning, I didn't perceive a big improvement in resolution. This might annoy me if I were paying substantially more for the extra pixels, but you're not paying more.

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Reader input required: review our reviews

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: This is going to sound really negative..

Thanks for your thoughts, Anonymous. No offence taken.

BTW, the Ars review runs to more than 5800 words. I think El Reg's reviews need to be longer, but I think that's stretching it, even for the Nexus 7.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: A tale of two rants

I can respond to the Vizplex point, because I wrote the review. That seems a minor point, but as I've said in another response, error reports will only be seen if they come via the 'Send a Correction' button. It's fixed now.

I disagree about the 'fluffy' comments inasmuchas not everyone knows how to read a response chart especially the ordinary consumers Reg Hardware reviews have been aimed at. A frequency response chart will tell you what you will hear, but not necessarily how good it sounds. Colour rendition, however, is less subjective and worthy of more scientific evaluation, I agree.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: Since You Asked

I take your point, and we considered doing just that at one point, or rather assigning a base level of 50% for 'works as it should' giving us scope to push the score up for stand-out kit and room below for poor offerings.

Trouble is, readers generally seem to assume that such a score means that the product is crap and therefore not worth reading about. We have never inflated a score in order to get readers, but at the same time we don't want to make a product seem worse than it actually is. So if a product is good, it should get a good score.

The problem is, most products today are good, and what lifts one above another is not technical quality but the benefit a given users sees in that one product.

For this reason I'm in favour of dropping scores altogether, but I'm willing to be persuaded otherwise.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: That iPhone 5 review.

This is getting off topic, but two points.

First, the pricing. We can't read all of a story's comments in case of an error. We try, but there aren't enough hours etc. But we do see all messages sent by the 'Send a correction' link at the bottom of each page. But it's fixed now.

Second, you can disagree with the review, but there's no reason why a reviewer shouldn't say a product is breathtaking if he or show believes it is. Not my review, so not my words, but even though I'd probably agree with most of your views of Apple the company, I do think the iPhone 5 is gorgeous. If Dave Phelan is even keener on it, that doesn't make him wrong. Or that we were wrong to allow him to say so.

Now, back to the task in hand...

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: I once bought a product based on a Reg Review

I'd say that's - in part - what the Comments section is for. Most writers keep an eye on these and respond to questions, though we don't (can't) force them to do so.

We always welcome comment from folk who've used a bit of kit and have hints, tips and - yes - corrections.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: +1's

For the record, almost all reviews samples are sought from vendors or their agents. El Reg has no budget at the moment to buy product.

Occasionally we buy stuff for personal use and review it because it's the only way to get hold of the kit. We will in future make this clear when this is the case.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Review Redux

Posting advance notice of reviews is often not practical - and it gives our competitors an advantage - but I like the notion of giving you folks the opportunity to ask questions ahead of time. I will give this idea some thought as to how it could be done. Thanks.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Hmm

Follow-up reviewage is a good notion, but often impossible from a practical standpoint: vendors don't let us hang on to the kit for long enough.

No, sceptics, we don't get to keep all this stuff.

It also tends to appeal only to folk who have bought the kit or, six months ago, thought they might do so. Few others care if our past experience of trying is anything to go by. Likewise when we look at old kit with new firmware. Never say never, though.

'Real' pictures are very definitely on the agenda, though

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Since You Asked

We are indeed looking at revising the scoring system - and then publishing it.

To be honest though, when 90 per cent of what we look at does what it says on the clichéd tin, it's hard to see scores changing much unless we start applying very subjective criteria.

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Numbers are objective. Opinions depend on point of view.

As a general point to all raising the notion of comparisons, I hear what you are saying but it occurs to me that we'll end up hearing nothing but 'why didn't you compare it with X???'

With the best will in the world, any given reviewer is unlikely to have tried all the rival products in the same category as the kit he or she is looking at.

But I will see how we can develop this further. Thanks for the feedback, folks

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Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Quality writing (i.e. better proof reading), evidence for opinions and statements, more balance.

Thanks for that, Phil. Some very useful pointers.

Small point: the Google Drive piece wasn't intended as a review per se, more a piece describing the writer's (exasperated) experience with the software. You're right about the pictures, mind.

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Liberator: the untold story of the first British laptop part 3

Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware
(Written by Reg staff)

That's very gracious of you, Baron - cheers.

The real thanks should go to the guys who developed the Liberator and were happy to take the time to be interviewed about it.

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