276 posts • joined 25 Nov 2006
Still far too expensive
Blu-Ray has been around for about 4 years now and it's still impossible to find a player (let alone a recorder) for under 50 pounds. At almost 300 pounds, the pricing of this should be considered "high-level" and not "mid-level" nowadays, but the prices of players/recorders have been moving far too slowly downwards really.
The problem Blu-Ray is now having is that average net speeds have been climbing more quickly than its price has been dropping, so there will come a point in the next few years where end-users will consider HD movie downloads as a viable option (they aren't really at the moment).
Blu-Ray movie discs need to cost the *same* as DVDs, IMHO - this would encourage more people to buy Blu-Ray players and drive the price of the players down more quickly. There has to be several "cheap and cheerful" 50 quid Blu-Ray players out on the market in the next year or two or Net downloads will start to hit the Blu-Ray market, IMHO. And I haven't even touched on the fact that most people think DVDs are "good enough" (especially whilst the discs and players are notably cheaper than Blu-Rays).
A lot of imported food/drink - hence high prices
This grocery section of Amazon UK is horrendously uncompetitive in its pricing - far worse than even the most expensive supermarkets (yes, including M&S). A lot of this is down to using Marketplace resellers to stock the goods and those resellers are often sourcing the items from outside the UK (look at the beverages non-alcoholic, crisps or chocolate - most of them are brands or flavours that have never launched in the UK!).
Also note that the resellers will often charge you postage on top of your purchase too, making the prices even more cringeful. This is a disastrous launch by Amazon UK - selling groceries at import Web site prices is ludicrous when there's plenty of UK supermarkets online that *destroy* Amazon UK's grocery pricing.
I suspect this new grocey section will either have to be seriously revamped with competitive pricing from *UK*-sourced groceries or simply quietly shoved under the carpet and discontinued a few months down the line. Epic fail on all fronts!
Why native code isn't great...
Whilst native code might well give you the fastest speed, it has two obvious issues. One is security (i.e. it has to be sandboxed very well) and two is portability. Do you really think that anything developed for a native code plugin will be available for *all* platforms that the browser runs on (i.e. Windows, Mac, Linux, 32-bit, 64-bit, never mind extra platforms that the Chromium source code may have been ported to)? I bet it wouldn't be in most cases.
Watch out for some dual boot snags
It should be noted that the Windows OS installers are quite "Linux hostile":
* They don't know about GRUB boot loaders and will wipe off any GRUB loader installed on the MBR of a drive (which is where most Linux distros put it by default). This will happen if you need to re-install Windows on the same drive that you installed Linux on. You're then going to have to hack your way through re-installing grub via the live Ubuntu CD and some estoric command-line work (believe you, I've had to do it more than once).
* Bizarrely, although XP and Vista beta/RC's Windows installers are happy to format any existing partition on a drive, Vista final and *all* Windows 7 (including RC's) releases will *not* format a partition unless it's unformatted or has FAT32 or NTFS on it. So don't use the Windows installer to re-install Windows (Vista or 7) on an ext3 or ext4 partition if you give up on Ubuntu.
* I've found that some Windows installers insist that the first partition of the drive you'll be installing Windows on has to be NTFS. Very stupid behaviour - especially if you've already put Linux on the first partition! - and may be fixed by the Windows 7 installer though.
Also, be careful about mixing the latest Ubuntu (10.04 - uses GRUB 2) with another distro (e.g. Fedora 13 - uses GRUB 1) on the same drive - it'll make juggling menu.lst (aka grub.conf) entries "interesting"! I solved it by using Fedora's GRUB 1 as my preferred grub and cutting/pasting lines from Ubuntu's GRUB 2 entries into the Fedora grub.conf (yes, I have to do this every time I update Ubuntu's kernel).
If you do dual boot, *always* keep a live Linux CD handy for fixing grub issues (or for just re-partitioning via something like gparted) - get used to typing "grub" in a console, then "root" and "setup" commands inside grub.
BTW, the advice about not burning a CD image onto a DVD isn't great - that probably applies to ancient BIOS'es and CD/DVD drives. Where possible, burn a CD image onto a blank DVD because a) it's faster to burn, b) it's faster to load and c) blank DVDs cost the same as blank CDs, so you do *not* save money by using a CD. In fact, anyone burning data CDs nowadays should go out and buy a DVD burner and some blank DVDs right now, because you'll not twiddle your thumbs waiting for CDs to burn or load.
Oh and if you have a 64-bit CPU and 4GB+ RAM, as the article says, you should install the 64-bit version of a Linux distro. It can give you a 5-10% performance improvement and you can install 32-bit libraries easily should you need to run any 32-bit apps. There was a 64-bit version of Flash, but the morons at Adobe have abandoned development of it, just as Mozilla announce that they will be doing official 64-bit builds of Firefox in the future (and 64-bit distros already ship 64-bit Firefox anyway!).
Ubuntu for newbies, Fedora for the rest
I would agree that as "my first Linux distro", Ubuntu is a good introduction, but I found it frustrating that they give you no software choice upon install in the Ubuntu graphical installer (strangely, the Ubuntu text installer *does* make some attempt to define categories of packages to be installed). This leads you to having to install additional packages that they left out of the install CD later on (not installing ntpd or sshd gets me particularly upset).
I also don't think Ubuntu do enough with their DVD release either in terms of actually mentioning it on their Website (it's much harder to "find" then the CD version) or stuffing it full of packages so that there aren't any "missing" like there are on the CD version.
Personally, I prefer Fedora with the RPM Fusion repo added - Fedora tends to lead the way when it comes to new features and is simply a better distro than Ubuntu for those experienced with Linux. The fact that we use CentOS desktops and servers at work is icing on the cake because Fedora previews (up to 2 years ahead!) what will be on the next major CentOS release. And, yes, Fedora's DVD releases are indeed jammed with packages that don't appear on Ubuntu's CD or DVD.
I would say that the only gripe I have about free desktop distros is that the 6-monthly release cycle is probably too fast. I'd like to see an annual release, with a "rollup of updates since the annual release" come out as a minor point update 6 months later in case people want to join the party half-way through (think "I won't install Windows until after SP1 comes out").
Fedora on a production server? Er, no!
I strongly suspect that because of its bleeding edge nature and rapid releases (<18 months after its release, support will stop), it's highly inappropriate to install Fedora on a server. The only reason I can think to do so is if you've bought some exotic new server hardware that RHEL (or CentOS) doesn't support yet, but Fedora does and even then, I'm sure the next point release of RHEL/CentOS would backport such support anyway.
I've always considered Fedora a technical desktop distro aimed at developers and its equivalent on the server should be CentOS. So for virtualisation features, the RHEL 6 beta release was the actual newsworthy virtualisation event in the RHEL/Fedora/CentOS family and not a desktop Fedora release (and I suspect a lot of virtualising desktop Fedora users sneak on VirtualBox because it's got a pretty slick GUI, better than the KVM GUI).
Bush was 99.99 at Argos until recently
It's really sad that this first generation review of Freeview HD boxes failed to find one priced at 100 quid or less, which is surely the point at which Joe Public decides to take the plunge? It's especially sad that these HD boxes that can't record have come in at the price of twin tuner SD Freeview hard disk recorders - the price of early adopters of 1st gen equipment I guess.
It should be noted, however, that Argos was selling the Bush at 99.99 quid for a fair while, but it's now back to an overpriced 149.99 quid. I picked it up at the cheaper price (I wouldn't have bothered if it wasn't for the World Cup looming) and for a basic box, it's not bad. The remote control is indeed "weird", plus the channel display on the front on the box is far too bright (4 eye-searing 7-segment red LEDs). I wouldn't recommend the Bush at 150 quid, but at 100 quid it certainly justified more than the 45% rating it got and would also have been by far the cheapest of your group by almost 30%.
What seems to be missing at the moment is decently priced twin tuner HD Freeview hard disk recorders (500GB+ please) - they should be out *now* and priced at 200-250 quid. Also missing is a twin tuner USB DVB-T2 for a PC - Hauppage's forums suggest a total lack of interest until some time next year!
Still no Linux final release
We all know Google's fetish for keeping products in beta, but it's getting beyond a joke with the Linux version of Chrome. The Windows release went from beta in Sep 2008 to first stable release in Dec 2008 - a very short (for Google) beta period of only 3 months.
It then took until June 2009 for Google Chrome "developer previews' (alphas?) to appear for Mac OS X and Linux, to be followed a full 6 months later by betas for those 2 platforms. Yes, a full year on from the Windows release, Mac OS X and Linux were finally in, er, beta status.
Roll on another 5-6 months and where are we? Well, very comically, the Mac OS X and Linux final releases are nowhere to be seen - a full 18 months after the Windows final version came out. In fact, they've moved from being a 4.X beta to being a 5.X beta with no final release inbetween, which is starting to make their schedule a laughing stock on non-Windows platforms.
Officially, Google Chrome has only ever had Windows stable releases in its existence and therefore I still consider it a Windows-only browser until Google finally get their dog-slow act together and release a final version on other platforms. Opera are moving this way too (where's my post 10.10 release on Linux - delayed for many months compared to Windows!) - it does look like the only browser that's getting simultaneous releases across the 3 main platforms is Firefox and that's why I still prefer it to the rest.
Use the Web, Luke
The SORN Website has been up for several years now (though no mention of it was made in this long article or whether it was available at the time the people involved got into "trouble") and is very easy to use.
You just need your car reg plate number plus either your vehicle registration number (on a green form) or the number they quote on the SORN/tax disc letter you get annually. I've done a SORN via Web on a couple of cars without any issues and it's far "safer" than relying on normal post!
'Obvious' free software not mentioned
Quite surprised that none of these are mentioned:
Firefox (or Opera or Google Chrome)
GIMP (or GIMPshop or Paint.NET or Inkscape)
uTorrent (or Vuze if you've got a fast machine)
Release notes URL
Looks like the RHEL 6 beta release notes are here:
It'll be interesting to see what KVM guest performance is like in RHEL 6, because it's not fantastic in the current 5.X series. BTW, am I the only one surprised that when you reboot the host in RHEL 5.X, all the KVM guests just die as if their power had been yanked out (i.e. there's no save guest state on host shutdown and restore guest state on host poweron)? I ended up having to write my own initscript to do it, because without it, you end up with fsck's on all the guests when the host is rebooted and the inherent risk of filestore corruption.
Nice set, but channel change *is* slow
I have the 32" version of this set (32LH3000) and it's a pretty decent performer, except I would argue that channel changing does take too long (you've not only got the 1 second delay after the "last" button of your channel number, but also 1.5 seconds of black after that too!).
Another downer is that although you can set Freeview channels to be "skipped" (only applies to +/- channel changing, you can still type their number in and go directly to them), you *cannot* either remove the channel completely or, even worse, re-order the channels. My previous Sony set could do both and it's very handy to customise your Freeview channels right down to the 8-9 or so that are worth watching and have them assigned to buttons 1-9 in your preferred order too.
The USB hack is well worth it - you basically downgrade the firmware via the USB port, go into the "secret" service menu (which is disabled in later firmware releases to stop the hack!), switch on USB support and then upgrade the firmware back to the latest release. It'll handle MP3s, JPEGs, DivX avi's and H264 mkv's quite impressively via USB and the remote control even has extra labels for play/stop/pause/FF/REW (yes, even for sets that aren't supposed to access the USB like the 3000/4000 series).
One thing missed in the article is that the set actually runs Linux and even has the GPL 2 license printed in the user manual! Also, why this review now? The 42LH3000 has been available since March *2009* on Amazon UK and still has an SD Freeview tuner. Surely any new model of LCD TV set with a built-in tuner should be looking to support HD Freeview...are we going to have to wait until 2011 to see a Reg Hardware review of such a set?
Business as usual then, nothing to see here, move along etc...
From what I can remember, pretty well every schedule of a Fedora release has had its alpha, beta or final verison delayed by one or more weeks at some point. What I don't understand is why they don't apply the delays from one release (e.g. F12) to the schedule of the next one (F13) - that way, future releases would have less and less delays (OK, but with a gradually longer release schedule) and slow news day postings like this one wouldn't be needed...
My personal opinion is that Fedora have indeed speeded up their release schedule too much. It was nicely averaging 8-9 months per release (I'd personally like to see an annual release, with a 6-monthly ".5" version as a respin with all the updates rolled in) and then someone decided that wasn't often enough and ramped up the schedule to near breaking point, hence the regular delays at various stages because it's simply too rapid a schedule IMHO.
Many server vendors offer the option of no OS pre-installed
I really think these surveys based on revenue generated by sales of server OS'es are *ridculous*. This is because - unlike the majority of desktop/laptop/netbook sales - it is very easy to buy a major OEM server without an OS pre-installed. We do it all the time with Dell PowerEdges and HP blades for example - buy the servers with no OS and put CentOS on them afterwards.
Now assuming that a company's IT dept wouldn't install a pirate copy of Windows on a purchased server and the cost of an OS-less server+retail Windows server software is higher than the "bundled" server+Windows deals OEMs do, then pretty well the only OS you'd install on a typical x86_64 OS-less server is going to be some form of free UNIX (almost certainly Linux).
Hence, anyone who is surveying the penetration of server OS'es can't just use sales figures for their basis. They also need to send out surveys to companies and basically ask them what OS'es they actually put into production on their servers. Sadly, we see very few of these surveys, so we're quite often left with completely unsatisfactory "market share of paid-for server OS'es" surveys which are probably easy to compile (e-mail half a dozen big OEMs, get their figures and add them up) and just about worthless in the big scheme of things. It just shows revenue trends, *not* market share of installed OSes.
Pictures? What pictures?
"...(adding the ability to show pictures!)" - er, what pictures? The only ones I ever saw on commercial digital Teletext were for banner ads. You'd have thought at least one small pic with each article would have been nice, but nope - text only and often crammed into a column about 40% of the width of the screen (requiring more sub-page flips than analogue teletext!).
I was permanently deeply unimpressed with commercial Teletext - no article pics as I said, quite slow to find a page to load, no page caching (if analogue teletext sets can do this, why can't digital, especially with no pics!) and, to be frank, not much useful content except perhaps to check a live sports score. The Web effectively killed digital teletext before it was born and it's still in a comatose state, even on the BBC.
In my house, the red button has always meant "watch one of the BBC's alternative video feeds", but on Freeview, they've even scrapped much of those (still available as multi-feeds on Sky Digital though!) and often pick the "wrong" one when there's a video feed clash. The other day, Freeview channel 301 was showing a useless Hairy Bikers prog, whilst Sky Digital's equivalent had highlights of the Murray vs. Nadal match - what a clanger to not show the tennis!
Cnet never took it down...
It's interesting that one of the most popular sites for Windows downloads, download.com (run by cnet), never took down this tool during the whole GPL2 debacle! I'm really quite surprised MS didn't contact cnet to get it pulled - its original posting (23rd Oct 2009) is still up here:
I did actually need this tool during the "embargo" period, so I used the cnet copy and it worked, albeit surprisingly slowly. You should make sure you have a fast (for writes) USB key at least 4GB in size.
Ubuntu is the amateur one and why not try CentOS?
Replying to Carlo Graziani:
I don't think Fedora is amateurish at all - in fact, if anyone is "amateur", it's the Ubuntu team for releasing frankly awful versions (9.04 was poor, 9.10 is a disaster). Fedora 11 is sweet and I'm about to install Fedora 12 (and the PackageKit "fix" hopefully!) and expect it to be just as good.
And if you don't like Fedora's cutting edge nature, get on the "slow train" with CentOS - much more conservative and updated far less often, but no doubt you'd complain that's it's not up-to-date enough! For home desktop distros, you really do want to be following close to the bleeding edge because of all the new hardware coming out.
For me, Fedora is the "best blend" Linux distro out there - it has innovations with every release (far more than Ubuntu does generally), it comes with sensible defaults/packages (this brief PackageKit fiasco excepted) and is updated regularly. I have no problem doing an annual upgrade of my default desktop (yes, I have been known to skip a Fedora release when I didn't like it) - heck, Windows has to be re-installed every 6 months to "clean it up" and at least Fedora major upgrades are totally free, unlike Windows.
Not much in article about the tech angle
The article didn't cover much technical (apart from the HD tuners being MPEG4 instead of MPEG2), so I'll asl a few questions:
* For people setting up media centres, they'll need to purchase an HD Freeview tuner for the machine (PCI card or USB I guess). Are these available already (e.g. sold for other HD digital markets in Europe) and if so, will they work with HD Freeview?
* Obvious question here - with the ludicrously sluggish timetable (both for SD and HD digital switchover), can you buy an HD Freeview tuner/set-top box/TV as soon as they are available and then use it with SD Freeview until your region switches to HD Freeview? It would be a massive technical and marketing mistake not to provide support for both because of the long-winded timetable.
I need to know all this cos I just picked up a cute Acer Revo 3610 for 159 quid and want to know if I should hold off buying an SD Freeview USB tuner for it or not (i.e. wait for an HD version to come out and buy that).
No N-standard wi-fi = epic fail
I bet a *lot* of people don't have CAT5 wiring around their house, so any box like this that comes without wi-fi (especially N-standard if you want 1080p) is surely a massive failure? Now if the box had wi-fi and only cost 10-20 quid more, I'd be interested, but otherwise this is impossible to put in the lounge next to the TV and I bet that's the case for almost everyone else too.
Also, it would be nice if the box could handle a USB tuner stick automatically and include some sort of timer recording facilities (yes, storing back across wi-fi to a central media server) as well, but I guess I'm asking for too much there as well.
Better than Vista, but what wasn't?
It's definitely an improvement on Vista, but there's still some very obvious "flaws":
* The Classic Start Menu has gone and if you customise your Start Menu like I do (i.e. remove over half the pointless space-wasting entries in it), you're left with fugly large blank areas of the double-panelled wastefully-wide menu. Big step backwards there.
* I use the Classic theme in Win 7 and you can't remove the annoying "Show Desktop" icon in the bottom right! It's part of the taskbar notification area, but the config dialogue for that deliberately omits that for absolutely no good reason at all.
* The default taskbar labels for open windows are too large (as is the taskbar itself - 600 pixels on netbooks means you don't want a tall taskbar) and have no text but large icons only - yes, easily changed if you poke around, but the default isn't good.
* I see the spastic scrollbar behaviour from many Windows releases hasn't been fixed yet. Click on the scroll thumb and drag it down (or up) - if your mouse drifts to left or right of the scroll bar whilst dragging, it jumps huge amounts! WTF is all I can say and this hits me so often, I can't believe other people haven't seen this and complained about it. It's a scrolling UI disaster that's been in Windows for donkeys years.
* Retail Win 7 recognises a Synaptics Touchpad (extremely common on many, many netbooks and notebooks) as a PS/2 mouse, which I find incredible. This is not only a major device identification failure, it means that there is *no* support to disable "tap-to-click" (or "tapping"), which is the most loathsome thing ever. Yep, the default on a retail Win 7 install is to have tapping enabled and with no way to turn it off - cue major frustrations amongst millions of users! Solution is to go to www.synaptics.com and install their driver for the touchpad using administrator and "Vista SP 2 compatibility mode" when running the driver installer. The Synaptics driver has config options to turn off the dreaded tapping feature - no doubt OEMs will slipstream this in on laptops/netbooks, but it's a major testing failure for MS to let this happen on the retail version.
Having said all that, Windows 7 is actually quite usable once you configure it to your liking. I'd say it's a definite upgrade for Vista users and a "maybe" for XP users. If you could pick it up for 45 quid as a pre-order, then, on balance, it's worth the money. I'll stick with Fedora Linux myself, which is better than any version of Windows, including 7, at least IMHO, plus it's free as a bonus, which always helps.
64-bit went mainstream on Linux about 5 years ago
Nice to see that Microsoft have finally realised that most new desktops and laptops bought nowadays are 64-bit capable - hey, only 5 years after Linux distros caught onto the 64-bit platform :-) I suspect that even now, Linux still has more 64-bit binaries available than Windows does - MS totally dropped the 64-bit ball with both XP and Vista...it's about time they, oh, hit the year 2004 or so.
Still, the standard 64-bit caveat applies on all platforms - if you have less than 4GB of physical RAM or your apps require less than 4GB of virtual RAM in total, then stick with 32-bit.
Er, BT shop postage isn't 1.20 quid!
I'm not sure why BT broadband customers pay just 1.20 pounds "postage" for this, when the BT Shop's P&P charges are actually a ridiculous 5.86 pounds! Yes, if you buy this from BT and aren't a BT Broadband user, it's *not* 7.07 pounds (the misleading "Free delivery on BT products" logo on the BT Shop site actually links to a page that only then adds "for BT products over 15 pounds" - I think the ASA should do them for that), but actually 12.93 pounds including P&P.
If you really want one for 7.07 quid, then dabs.com look like the place to go (yes, it truly is free P&P on that site) - I've just ordered mine from there.
Single points of failure / software costs?
Is it just me or are there potentially two critical points of failuire with virtualised setups? One is the base server hardware itself - if that dies, instead of losing one client, you lose 10 or 20 in one go? It basically means you need at least *two* beefy base server boxes *and* have a way to do regular snapshots that be can be restored on either box. BTW, some virtualisation software I've seen cause large pauses when you take snapshots, which isn't too clever.
The second potential single point of failure is the NAS box that everyone seems to mention w.r.t. virtualised systems. What if that goes down? Potentially multiple base servers dead and dozens of sites inaccessible with no way to restore them either. Again, wouldn't you need two identical NAS boxes (and these things aren't cheap!) that are kept exactly in sync?
As for the virtualisation software, licenses can be very expensive for VMware and other commercial VM systems - the money you save on hardware can be partly swallowed up by the software costs. As people have said, if a large chunk of your clients use common software (same Web+scripting+SQL DB+CMS), it's more efficient and cheaper to put them on a single OS than spread them across multiple OS'es (virtualised or not) and in those cases, non-virtualisation wins out.
What I'd like to see is free, good virtualisation software come with server OS'es as standard - it's becoming prominent enough to be considered as part of a server OS. Red Hat are making some strides with KVM (RHEL 5.4 and 6 might finally ship a usable version) - once virtualisation software costs drop to "zero" and you don't have to involve a third party to virtualise, you'll see lot more companies consider it.
Get your first sentence right...
Sean Timarco Baggaley said "Apple aren't in the business of selling operating systems."
Quite a flagrant lie from Sean there and making the rest of his comment less credible because of it. Apple *are* in the business of selling operating systems! You can buy Mac OS X as a standalone retail product either from an Apple store or on various online sites. They also sell the OS as part of an OS+software+hardware bundle and have highly dubiously crafted an EULA to try to stop users from installing the standalone OS on anything other than Apple kit.
I certainly agree that Apple shouldn't have to *support* users who install Mac OS X on non-Apple kit, simply because Apple won't have tested that hardware/software combo. I vehemently disagree that they can force exactly what hardware you install the OS on - that's outrageous and indefensible in my books.
Apple are the only OS vendor in the world who imposes this restriction, certainly on the ubiquitous Intel x86 platform at least (I suspect some mainframe OS'es might have equally dodgy hardware-restricting EULAs...e.g. IBM maybe?) and they have never justified the restriction to the public at large (it's clearly to protect their hardware sales, but they've never admitted that).
Problem is that USB cripples this drive
When typical SATA internal drives were 50-60 Mbytes/sec read speed, attaching them externally via USB wasn't too much of a penalty. Nowadays though, internal SATA drives (including Samsung's drives) regularly exceed 100 Mbytes/sec - my Samsung F1 1TB internal does 116 Mbytes/sec read for example. USB 2.0 has a maximum throughput of 60 Mbyte/sec "in theory", but I can only get around 32 Mbytes/sec on my external 500GB Samsung USB drive in practice.
All of this means that recent external USB SATA drives are horribly crippled performance wise - eSATA is one possible solution (but not many PCs come with that), but I think we're in "limbo" at the moment until PCs and external drives support USB 3.0. Personally, I've taken the decision to buy no more external USB hard drives until 3.0 is established (so that's at least a year and probably a new PC too...).
Only a couple of F11 snags so far
I've run all the alpha, beta and preview versions as well the final of Fedora 11 and there's only two snags that are very noticeable for me they didn't fix by the final release, neither of which is mentioned in the article, ho hum.
First up is an ext4 issue - no, not the one that was fixed and wrongly accused of having by the article. It's the one that Ubuntu 9.04 sorted out and F11 didn't, namely that grub cannot handle ext4 /boot partitions (or / being ext4 if there's no separate /boot). Yes, if you want your system disk to be ext4 in Fedora, you *have* to create a separate /boot partition *and* that partition can't be ext4 - arrgh! There is a fix for this brewing, but it came too late for F11 :-(
Secondly is the old chestnut of chasing the X server release version beyond what the proprietary 3D drivers support, in particular ATI's fglrx driver (for which, neither radeon nor radonhd are acceptable open source alternatives yet, though the latter may eventually be decent enough).
I always wait until my favourite third-party repository (now called rpmfusion) packages the fglrx goodies up into RPMs and makes them available for download. As I write this, not a sign of the fglrx RPMs in any of the F11 rpmfusion repo trees, so that means no usuable 3D acceleration yet again (same happened with F9 [4.5 months!!] and F10 [1.5 months]) and I'll twiddle my thumbs until the drivers turn up and I can switch to F11. Luckily, ATI have a monthly release schedule for their Linux drivers, so it might only be a few weeks until 3D actually works in F11 at decent speeds.
Netbooks have gone higher spec...
...which means higher prices and, unsurprisingly, lower sales. Trying to find a brand new netbook for significantly under 200 pounds is getting quite difficult, now that 7" netbooks are dead, 8.9" netbooks are being phased out and 10"/12" netbooks seem to be de rigeur at the moment. Never mind the "Microsoft tax" too, now that most netbooks ship with Windows as well.
Got to say that the company going the "wrong way" with this is definitely the netbook trailblazer Asus - they've basically upped the spec so much now, that even a sub-300 quid EEE netbook model is hard to find in their range now!
F11 is good, though some install wrinkles need ironing out
I installed from the 64-bit Fedora 11 beta DVD and it's pretty good, except for three issues I had. Firstly, the Anaconda installer crashes when trying to eject the DVD at the end of the install - no big deal, because it does actually install all packages and adjust the bootloader properly before the crash.
Secondly, my first boot and login didn't start up the networking. I can't say I'm a fan of having the NetworkManager handle networking startup *after* you login anyway, but in this case, I had to click on the network icon in the top panel and it "magically" activated the network, without any further prompting.
Thirdly - and the worst issue of all - the top-level of the DVD has a crucial GPG key missing (the primary one for Fedora 11) and embarrasingly, there's even a bunch of soft-links to it at the top-level of the DVD that go nowhere! This means that by default "yum update" failed every time because of the missing key and I ended up having to switch off gpg checking in the yum config to actually do any updates!
Still, I'm mightily impressed with the speed of booting - even faster than Fedora 10, which was already pretty quick. Nice to see the virtualisation goodies taking shape too - KVM is starting to look like serious competition for VMWare and VirtualBox at long last.
Asus have priced themselves out of the market
It's a pity about Asus really - they pioneer the Netbook phenomenon and then basically abandon it by making every subsequent model bigger, heavier and more expensive! A 10" netbook for 400 pounds? That's at *least* 100 pounds too much, Asus - you're continuing to make the same mistake over and over again.
To top it off, the original 7" Asus has been pensioned off and you're now hard pushed to find any really cheap Asus netbook models. Asus have ceded the market to Acer and Dell and it's sad to see the trailblazer now look like an also-ran.
I've "no demand" for typical Channel 4 progs
The problem now is that Channel 4 is barely worth watching any more. US shows are available "elsewhere" months earlier, ditto movies they show and the vast majority of homegrown stuff (Big Brother particularly) is pretty shoddy quality. Yes, they might have the odd one-off drama worth watching, but they are so few and far between that if C4 went off-air right now, I just wouldn't miss it one iota.
1TB drive is great...
I bought a couple of 1TB Samsungs a few months back and they are one of the best purchases I've ever made. 116Mbytes/s read speed, really quiet, run cool and I got them at 75 quid each. Fast, cheap, quiet, cool - Samsung were the first to tick all the boxes for 1TB+ drives, IMHO. Surprisingly, the typical price of the 1TB is now 80 quid - perhaps Samsung can't make them quick enough :-) I hope the 1.5TB version is as good as the 1TB, because it'll be at the top of my next hard disk purchase list if it is.
Just buy the internal reader version...
I bought the LG GGC-H20L myself, which gives you much better bang for your buck. Yes, it's the internal model and doesn't write to Blu-Ray discs, but with Blu-Ray movies to be found for 8-10 pounds, who is going to bother trying to copying onto blank media that costs the same as or more than the original?
Ironically, I've not even bought a single Blu-ray movie yet because their average price is still too high for my tastes (particularly for new releases) and I'm still glutted on the dozens of HD-DVDs I bought at 3 quid a pop last year online :-) A shame Cyberlink annoyingly dropped HD-DVD support from their software from version 8 onwards thought- quite premature I thought since you can still buy HD-DVD-capable drives like this one and HD-DVD movies from several major online sites.
This is why I didn't buy an AA1
This 5-page guide (with a link to the video at the end) is one of the two main reasons I haven't bought an Acer Aspire One. Upgrading the RAM on any machine (netbook, notebook or desktop) should *never* be as painful as this! Most machines either have a hatch exposing the RAM or have the DIMM slots easily accessible once you remove (usually only one side of) the case.
The other reason the AA1 isn't worth buying? The pitiful battery life - just about the worst in the entire class of netbooks out there - and the correspondingly expensive replacement battery you have to get to go beyond the 2 hour mark.
A shame really, because with easily upgradeable RAM and a decent battery, the AA1 might have been a contender. Mind you, don't get me started on the AA1's dog slow SSD either :-)
You could view it any time...
There was no need to wait for 11.31pm on the Friday or, as an earlier poster suggested, set your clock back after the event, because anyone who bothered - like I did - to view the HTML source of the site would have seen that if you click the word "fun" in the phrase "xkcd fun with..." at the bottom of the page, you get to see the fireworks etc. any time you like.
Yes, too expensive, but also too small?
Is it just me or does OLED tech seem to be in the same place as SSDs right now? Not only is it far too expensive (I'd never pay 3 grand for a TV set, no matter how fantastic it is), but it's also too small (11" isn't even big enough for the kitchen or a small bedroom!).
The tech is great, but we're still years away from seeing this in living rooms - wait until the digital switchover in the UK has finished (i.e. 2012 Olympics) and wake me up again then....
I buy from the booking office
If you live close to the venue, then do what I do and buy in *cash* from the booking office at the venue. Yes, they open limited hours, but a) you get the tickets in your hand there and then and b) no extra fees at all (yep, it's the only way to actually just pay the price shown on the ticket itself).
I simply don't trust buying tickets online and the additional fees are 100% a rip-off. These additional fees should be included in the standard ticket price and the *only* extra should be postage (which may have to be several quid because you really want them sent next day recorded delivery).
Most home users don't upgrade their OS ever
I suspect 95% of home users never upgrade the OS on their machine (or if they have to, they get someone else, be it a nerd friend or PC World, to do it). Can you really see the average Joe Bloggs in the street backing up their data and app installers (if they are downloads particularly), booting from a Windows 7 CD, trudging through a Windows installer (which they'll probably have never seen before) and the restoring their data and running the app installers (some of which may not work). And how do they go back to XP if any of the above fails?
What MS should release is what Linux has had for years - live DVD installers, so you can boot into a DVD-based Windows 7 desktop, check your hardware works and maybe even try to install some of your old apps and check that they work along with trying out some of the backed up data with the apps too, though I'm not sure how easy that would be to do in a live Windows environment.
Basically, what MS are saying is that there is *no* upgrade path directly from XP to Windows 7 at all - the procedure they describe is a clean install. If you're going to go for a clean install, why not play with a live CD of Ubuntu/OpenSUSE/Fedora and see if stuff like WINE will run your Windows apps? If you go ahead and install Linux, you can always keep the XP install, dual boot and not "need" Windows 7 at all...
Buying Ubuntu machines is actually quite hard on Dell's site
Looking at the Dell US site, it's actually quite tricky to buy Ubuntu laptops. Despite the fact it clearly should be, it's *not* a simple radio button option next to Vista when you go to Customise one of their mainstream laptops. In fact, the Ubuntu laptops are in a completely different, well-hidden section of the Dell site called "Open Source PCs" (a tiny link down the bottom left column on the laptop index page). You're taken to a section with different model names, different hardware specs and different prices (all deliberate by Dell to make price comparisons with Windows laptops very difficult).
So either she consciously chose to buy a non-Windows OS (i.e. hard to do it by mistake) or, more likely, she uses a bargain/offers Web site or mailing list that gave an exact URL to the no doubt slightly cheaper Dell Ubuntu laptop. BTW, one thing Dell should make more clear is that when you're in the Customise section of the laptop and hit the "Operating System" section, it should say "note that Ubuntu is not fully compatible with Windows and some Windows applications may not run, especially games.". If you did click on "Open Source PCs", there is some sort of blurb about it not being Windows, but it's not as explicit as my suggestion.
Are these dual core chips 64-bit?
I'm a bit surprised that the article didn't mention whether any of these new dual core chips will be 64-bit. I'm holding off buying a netbook until there's one available with 4GB RAM, dual core, 64-bit and doesn't eat battery life. Why should the small form factor mean lower spec - if one crops up for 300 quid or less, I'll be the first in line...
HD Freeview is coming...
Is it just me or is the fact that in a year's time, regions start rolling out HD Freeview and if you want see HD channels, you have to buy at least a new set-top box (negating the SD tuner nicely built into your "HD ready" TV or DVR) or completely ditch the old equipment if you don't like set-top boxes. If I was considering buying a new Freeview TV or recorder with an integrated tuner (try finding one *without* an SD Freeview tuner nowadays!), I'd hold back a year and wait for HD Freeview versions.
It's the "dirty little secret" that's brewing for Q4 2009 onwards - "HD Ready" equipment with integrated SD tuners should really be investigated by Ofcom or someone because you have to apply an external HD source to get HD! As for this TVonics unit, a total thumbs down because of the SD tuner and lack of HDMI...
Or get an LG Combo drive for 70 quid...
I bought an LG combo Sata drive for my PC from Ebuyer earlier this year for less than 70 quid - reads/writes CDs and DVDs and will read both HD-DVD and Blu-Ray. It even came with Cyberlink PowerDVD 7 that can play HD-DVD and Blu-Ray movies on the PC. How come a relatively cheap PC add-on like this wasn't reviewed? Heck, you could probably buy an entire PC *and* the LG drive for the cost of one of the pricier Blu-Ray decks you reviewed!
Deja Vu - anyone remember The Money Programme?
This reminds me of the 30 minute promotional video for Vista that BBC 2 made - via "The Money Programme" - for the launch of Windows Vista. There was virtually no balance in the programme - the only negative statements in the entire show were that it missed a Christmas launch and they had a brief vox pops at the end where 2 punters claimed it was a) not much different from XP and b) too expensive. Read more on the blatant 30 minute ad for Microsoft here:
And what about old Sky Digital boxes?
Five, Fiver and Five US have never been broadcast in the clear on Sky Digital to my knowledge (the same was true of Channel 4, E4 and More 4 until very recently), so I'm guessing that this Freesat change also means that the Five channels will turn up in the clear on Sky Digital boxes on 18th Nov. Amazing that it's taken 11 years (i.e. since the launch of Channel 5 in 1997) for Sky Digital finally to broadcast all 5 main terrestrial channels in the clear! Is that pathetic or what?
Wouldn't CentOS have been easier?
If they'd mainly been on Fedora (and I'm guessing RHEL too) before, then wouldn't a migration to CentOS be the more obvious choice? Not only is it free to install, but you get 7 years of free updates matching those released by Red Hat for RHEL. At work, we've moved virtually all our Linux servers and desktops to CentOS now (previously they ran Fedora) and apart from having to track a few desktop apps manually (e.g. Firefox 3, OpenOffice.org 3), there's very little difference in the day-to-day admin of Fedora vs. CentOS - far less so than Fedora vs. Ubuntu.
Fedora 8 (and 9) updating now...
In response to the "what's happened to Fedora 8 updates" question, the Fedora team have issued a new signing key and associated "fedora-release" transition RPM - this updates your yum update repos to point "updates-newkey", in which there are indeed a shed-load of new Fedora updates now.
Sadly, on my system, the fedora-release RPM appeared at the same time as some broken package updates and "yum update" fell on its backside! I had to "yum install fedora-release" and *then* do a "yum update" - all was well after that. It appears the livna repos for Fedora 8 got hit by the same breakage - F8 has had a new kernel for 10 days or so and no fglrx RPM updates from livna for the new kernel (they usually do it within 1 working day). It means I can't go to F8's new 2.6.26 kernel yet and hence no UDF 2.5 support (so I can't mount HD-DVDs for example on my new LG combo drive - yes, HD-DVD format is dead...nice to see that Linux can finally mount them 6 months after the format is 6 feet under...).
Support for Fedora is pointless really
Fedora moves too quickly really - its release schedule is typically 3 times faster than RHEL's - so unless either you plan to upgrade your entire distro at least annually or Fedora's release schedule radically slows down *and* they keep supporting more than the latest 2 releases, then paid support for it is a total non-starter.
Fedora is very useful to install on the desktop (or a spare non-production server) so you can "play" with the new bleeding edge technologies and see what's going to be in the next RHEL release, but it's painful if you want to run it in a production environment (updates stop less than 18 months after its release for one thing - what about security fixes after that time? We got burned by Fedora Core 2's kernel simply dying on a busy mail/firestore server - we had to hand-roll a much newer kernel to fix it because FC2's updates stopped quite a while ago. Needless to say, we've moved that to CentOS 5 now and the kernel's been rock solid on that platform).
The best compromise is to use CentOS - being a free clone, it's released on the same slower schedule as RHEL and has updates for multiple years (at least 5 usually - enough to last the lifetime of the hardware at any rate). I've actually switched our work desktops away from Fedora to CentOS 5 - the essential apps (OpenOffice/Firefox/Thunderbird) have to be hand-maintained because CentOS 5 is too far behind, but I leave most of the rest of the stuff to standard (and one or two select third-party) repos to be updated.
Fedora 9 is a botch-up - F10 should be much better
Anyone who's used Fedora for a while knows that it's best to a) wait a little while for the rush of updates immediately following a version's release to subside and b) install the new version on a separate partition and test it first whilst keeping your original older Fedora install intact. I did this for Fedora 8 (old) vs. Fedora 9 (new) and soon realised that F9 was a release disaster.
The number one problem with F9 was that they incredibly irresponsibly shipped the final version with a beta release of the X server. Yes, part of the blame should go to the treacle dev speed of the X.org folks (it took 4.5 months *after* the final release of F9 for the final version of the X server to come out!), but it does appear that the Fedora team were unwilling to roll back to the previous X server at all (which would have suspended a fair chunk of work they'd done for 4.5 months after the release, plus put X back to the same place as F8 had already been 6 months earlier).
The upshot is that F9's "radeon" open source driver is a joke with my ATI HD 2600XT card when connected to my analogue Philips CRT. It flickers like crazy and has the screen boundaries 100 pixels too far to the left! ATI don't release driver support for beta X servers either, so I couldn't even switch to the ATI 3D driver. The F8 stable X server works fine with both the "radeon" and "fglrx" drivers, so I was hugely miffed about this. Fedora 10 alpha hasn't fared any better, but at least they have a chance of proper driver support for the final release of Fedora 10 now that the stable X server is out. Yes, I have F10 alpha on another partition too...
Google Chrome download blocked for non-Windows users
Let me see, a vague commitment to the Mac and Linux platform isn't a good launch for Google Chrome really (Google are hugely notorious for releasing on Windows first and then waiting many months before bothering with other platforms).
What's even worse, if you want to try Google Chrome on a non-Windows platform (e.g. via emulation/virtualisation such as VMWare, WINE etc.), then good luck, because whoever decided to *block* (yes, BLOCK) non-Windows users from downloading the Windows version of Google Chrome ought to be hung, drawn and quartered! User Agent Switcher on Firefox got me a little further, but even that stopped me at "Accept and Install" on the EULA page. What the freak are Google playing at?!
No mention of the RAM upgrade nightmare....
Apart from the totally foot-shooting decision of Acer to ship the Aspire One with a 3-cell battery and no option to ship with a better battery as standard, the other thing I really *hate* about the hardware is that there's no easy way to upgrade the RAM!
It's all well and good saying "buy the cheapest model", but 512MB RAM isn't a lot nowadays and you have to take the machine apart - voiding the warranty along the way - to add any extra RAM, thanks to Acer ridiculously not having a RAM access hatch and burying it well inside the machine.
Fix the battery and RAM issues, sell it for under 250 quid and I'm there. Acer Aspire Two anyone?
Changing IP address? Listen on both...
If the new IP address for the Exchange server was in the same subnet as the old IP address, then what they could have done is listen on both the old and new IP for a while until the DNS change had propagated. BTW, someone suggested lowering the DNS TTL when changing IP - sounds good in theory, until you realise that many ISPs cache DNS according to their own rules (often hours) and lowering the TTL actually has little immediate effect (i.e. it's ignored more often than not).
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