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* Posts by Tom

45 posts • joined 23 Dec 2006

NFC will be in all Nokia smartphones from 2011

Tom
Welcome

SMS was also incorporated before anyone wanted it

I think the real advantages here are ticketless transactions, like in the airport, train, tube, bus, cinema, concerts etc.

Build it and they will come worked for SMS. Why not NFC?

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Brits left cold by mobile internet

Tom
Jobs Horns

I blame the websites

The websites that people want to use are not really geared up for viewing over the mobile web. The only site I've ever used with any regularity on my phone is the PDA version of the National Rail site, because most websites force nearly a meg of pictures and "rich content" down your thin internet connection every time you click a link. It's chicken and egg with user experience and user usage, but when even seasoned geeks think your website looks rubbish over mobile internet, you've got problems.

And as for the iphone, making a walled garden of internet for rich people may make you rich, but its not really progress.

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Nokia prepping 12Mp cameraphone with optical zoom?

Tom
Thumb Down

Um... the N93 had optical zoom

so it wont even be the first phone with optical zoom for Nokia.

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Boffins offer plastic printing service

Tom
Thumb Up

Quite cheap

I looked em up, and they're not too expensive for a one-off model making service.

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Nokia's Tube touchphone to be out in time for Xmas?

Tom
Thumb Up

Anything you can do, I can do better

That's all I wanted to say.

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Nokia E71 smartphone

Tom
Go

A phone for every occasion

That should be Nokias motto.

It's a business phone that execs will like, and it has security features which IT will like. You won't feel like a fool getting it out in a meeting. The camera is decent, especially compared to HTC or BB. Nice.

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Consider yourself Moderatrixed

Tom
Joke

Re: Re: boyfriends

I personally find the gender-equality in science/engineering fascinating. Not just because you get to hear people stumble around a metaphorical minefield, but also because you can weed out people you never want to get to know personally.

Reminds me of a story on of the women on my degree course told me:

The scene: She wanted to get onto a Mech Eng course at university. She is invited to an interview at a London-based uni.

Interviewer: "I notice you went to an all-girls school. Are you just applying because you want to be on a course full of boys?"

Friend: "..."

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David Davis tells El Reg that Labour is 'mesmerised' by tech

Tom
Alert

A teaspoon of wine in a barrel of sewage is sewage

A teaspoon of sewage in a barrel of wine is also sewage.

I know which one I'd rather drink.

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Research: Wind power pricier, emits more CO2 than thought

Tom
Alert

@everyone

Wind power is one of the many tools to relieve dependence on fossil fuels. It will not cure cancer. It will not make you better in bed. It will displace some of the coal and gas burnt in power stations today.

The last decade has seen greater steps forward in quality of life for everyone in the UK, but Blair was a social policy man, not a power production specialist. And Brown is just a money man, bless his little cotton socks. This is a critical time in determining the energy mix of the next 100 years in the UK. Stop bickering and go and do something, before they use rolling brownouts to force your total obedience.

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Tom
Boffin

@ Anyone know how much CO2 goes into building a wind turbine?

The energy payback period is what you're after. For a wind turbine, the energy payback is 80-100 times the initial energy cost, over the 20-25 year lifespan. For solar panels it is 2-4, over the same period. To work out how long it takes to pay that back, use a calculator. To work out how much CO2 is produced, use excel.

Fossil and nuclear fuelled power plants never technically pay back the energy put into them, because you're always putting fuel into them.

Isn't perspective wonderful?

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Tom
Boffin

Dinorwig is in north Wales

Not in Scotland, although the Scots have their fair share of hydro power. Incidentally, nuclear power also goes mad for these pumped storage schemes, for precisely the opposite reason - they run at base load and cannot cope with the massive swings in power demand over the day.

As with all of these things, a mixture of power sources is the answer, and writing off wind power because it doesn't quite fit the bill is very un-engineering-like. And by 2020, we'll all have mandated smart appliances, or smart plugs for them at least, so that some of the curve is removed. In a world of less "peaky" production capabilities, you'll have to be less "peaky" in your demand.

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Midwestern data pimping alive and well

Tom

Where are these ads placed?

What are they replacing?

Are the original advertisers annoyed that someone else is supplanting their paid-for spot?

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Google a broken hell for five-year-olds

Tom
Coat

Is this not just a difference in culture and business focus?

What do google sell? Adverts, right? And all their products are just excuses to stick some adverts on the side of your document.

Microsoft are in the productivity business, so their products are aimed at work-a-day people. Cool is cool, but it doesn't put food on the table (though it may keep it fresh. Is that mixing metaphors?).

It's not so much comparing apples and oranges as promotional pens and oranges.

I'll get my metaphorical...

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What's going to power Small, Cheap Computers?

Tom
Boffin

I'm not afraid of Bill Ray

I think the fundamental thing here is that computing power has progressed to the point where fundamental questions are being asked about what we actually want to *do* with all these chips.

Symbian and XP are at two ends of the scale with computers: Symbian does alot with a little. XP does alot with alot. Faster, lower power chips are closing the gap between them.

None of which answers the real question everyone is asking: Why is the new EEE so expensive, and where did they lose their way?

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Bill Gates has gone, what's his legacy?

Tom
IT Angle

The history of Billg is the history of MS

And when he leaves, what will be left? A company which rose to power on a good idea, and stayed at the top through grabbing the good ideas of others (not a bad thing), and is now slipping because others are now doing the same (google, anyone?).

That said, the really *good* old guard companies never die, they just refocus on what they're good at. Newspapers never died when online news appeared, they just shuffled up a bit. A smaller slice of a bigger pie. It may be that Linux or OSX become the OS of choice for Laptots and consumer PCs, but windows remains as the OS of the megacorp. More expensive licenses, fewer, richer customers. Or maybe they'll embrace open source and slip into the pool of modular and infinitely customisable software out there...

The icon is to say "what now for IT?"

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Dreamer calls for revolution of the algorithm

Tom
Unhappy

I remember when...

Linux was hailed as the new messiah, to solve world hunger and free computers, leading us to the promised land. I think we all grow jaded with time, though we would wish otherwise.

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Fired IT manager accused of venting spleen on organ bank

Tom

Is it any wonder

that IT security see their own staff as more of a risk than outside hackers?

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Oxford tops Blighty university rankings

Tom
Boffin

Meh

I noticed a number of spelling mistakes and odd numbers in the tables, e.g.:

"Prices between colleges vary widely between colleges." - cambridge's accomodation, there.

Anyway, that list is for the universities as a whole. Check the list for your subject and the table changes markedly. For instance, in computer science Cambridge tops the list, and the top 10 change significantly.

Why does the research go up to 7? How are each of these highly subjective numbers assessed? Will they be the same after I spend 3-4 years in that place? Will the department close halfway through, leaving me high and dry?

Answers on a snail, please.

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Bosch, Siemens: Vorsprung durch kinder und technik

Tom

Gah

I'm a Mech. Eng. graduate (as of last Friday!) going straight into a job. I had about a million job offers (OK, not quite, but still enough). The salary is competitive, and just shy of the UK average wage. Everyone in my class who wanted a job ASAP has got one, and the rest will not have a problem when the time comes. Even a friend who graduated with a 2:2 last year has a job now (ironically with one of the companies mentioned).

I've said it before, and I shall say it again - you're a bunch of old fogies moaning about the death of "proper jobs" while failing to realise that only the unsustainable stuff went away. When your standards of living go up, coal mining is less attractive as a job. Engineering has got smarter, and a new generation of whizz-kids are going to shake it all up. The generation gap is closing.

5 years ago, everything was being shipped off to china, and the future looked bleak. Now china is importing more high tech stuff than it put out and a recession is stripping all the fat from uk businesses. Chin up, eh?

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Apple under the gun to master the iPhone's 'second album'

Tom

Too cool for school

Apple has always been too cool for school - never wanting to stop creating new, proprietary stuff and play nicely with others. The pattern established with the old ipods is being played out again - slight upgrade justifies the same price a year later.

There was never any issue about whether they could pull off the iphone 2, Moore's law saw to that. The real question was whether they would upgrade anything meaningful, and the answer is no. The "virtual" GPS has become real, the download speed is faster. Plus ca change.

The camera is still 2 megapixel, the whole thing is a still delicate piece of glass. The worlds largest camera maker has nothing to worry about.

Another Tom

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Irregular heart rhythm? Try a Taser

Tom
Stop

Re: Shit happens.....

"They deserved it" is not a good reason to ignore someones unlawful killing, and a death in police custody should always be investigated.

Tasers may be less damaging than a billy club to the head, and a sharp blow to the chest of any healthy person can cause the heart to stop. This is why you don't hit people on the head or chest with a billy club, and this is why a taser to any part of the body should be carefully considered.

I don't object to tasers absolutely, but their use should be carefully examined, and if they keep using them on people in hospitals then we should consider banning their use.

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Mobile money - a helping hand for the poor?

Tom
Go

Jan Chipchase (sp?) tells a similar story

Jan Chipchase's talk at TED tells about how people use phone credit as a method of sending money back home (admittedly from the city to the countryside). Microbanking and mobile phones are two very effective means of improving the economic state of some very poor people. It often amazes me how much we take for granted (free bank accounts, free phones, free bill payment) simply because we've passed the point in our wealth where it isn't economically viable to charge us for those things.

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Blighty to become old-time Inundation Nation

Tom
Alert

Re: Mwhahahahaha

I live in Sheffield, which is built on lots of hills. You know, the city that flooded last summer?

Ironically, it was Hillsborough which flooded quite badly. So, in conclusion: Hills don't stop flooding.

PS: this icon is more appropriate than I think most people realise.

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Shell pulls out of Thames Estuary mega-windfarm

Tom
Boffin

The future is still oil free

Whether or not the climate is set to change is rather by-the-by when it comes to assessing the UK energy gap. The real fact of the matter is that north sea oil production is shrinking. Might it not make sense to start looking at alternatives? Or even building alternatives?

The other major contender, nuclear power, has the opposite problem to wind power: it pumps out energy at base load with no consideration to demand. Oh, and it will take 10 years to build another plant. So there you have your choices: unpredictable and NOW, or predictable and in 10 years.

Personally I reckon that peak-power could be sorted quite easily with digital tv, by having the commercial breaks staggered across the country. That way, when you flush the bog and switch the kettle on, it'll not be in synchrony with the everyone else...

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Brit tourist blags his way onto Iron Man set

Tom
Coat

Re: Picture?

Yes, as they say on the internet these days: pictures or it didn't happen!

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We-think, I-think ... and Groupthink

Tom
Boffin

Re: Plagiarism or Research?

Dave

I'm writing my dissertation right now, and I'm trying to do just that - reference everything I find. Unfortunately, it's now frowned upon to cite Wikipedia in your references (thanks, TheRegister!), or use some unsubstantiated web-guru as a source in an academic context. This leaves me in a dilemma: do I spend 10x as long searching for a reliable source, or get laughed at by an ivory-towered academic?

Also, this groupthink is not a new thing. Academic cliques have been around since Socrates hung out with Plato.

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Snort coke, shaft the environment, say boffins

Tom

I'm surprised this hasn't come up before

When was the last time you were offered an organic line? Or an organic cigarette for that matter?

Unfortunately, one of the characteristics of an addict is not seeing the wider consequences of their habit. I therefore doubt that someone who doesn't care that they're boring all around them with inane chatter will be particularly bothered by another 4 m^2 of Colombian forest gone up their nostril.

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Ofcom to hold operators responsible for dodgy dealers

Tom
Flame

To Danny

You obviously have never helped a less technically (or bloody) minded friend reclaim their cash. You have to jump through so many hoops and read such tiny small print that the whole process is clearly designed to rip people off.

Yes, people should think about why a company is offering them "free money" to sign on the dotted line, but when it goes pear-shaped so often and for so many people, regulators have a duty to step in.

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Desktop Eee PC spied on web

Tom
Thumb Up

It's funny but...

Buying this desktop or the laptop for the Linux inside is probably the most attractive thing about it. It's like when people used to by macs for their grannies, before they went and complicated things.

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UK gov unveils 'Innovation Nation' plans

Tom
Go

PR speaks louder than actions?

Essentially, the government has a new plan for a policy regarding technology, specifically technology outside of the traditional areas where the private sector has excelled. I say excelled, but what I really mean is: companies can still earn a crust without relocating to the far east.

It's a start, but a start needs a middle. Oh, and an end goal would be nice, too.

Actually, I think that's the problem I have with the recent wave of government tech policy - they can't admit they've been doing it wrong all this time, so anything more decisive or visionary would look like they're changing their mind.

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eBay parachutes ecommerce veteran into Skype hotseat

Tom
Go

They started with a good idea... and then stopped

The initial premise was good, and the execution was fair: Free skype-to-skype calls, some landline tie-ins and a simple to use IM front-end. And then they stopped. They need to set themselves up like Blackberry, or as an MVNO with mobiles in every country. Simplify corporate communication and everyone will want one. Offer the same as everyone else, and you'll just end up an also-ran.

That said, friends who work or live overseas having a local number their family can call for free on their landlines, and forward to their mobiles for pennies a minute makes it a real, if quiet, success.

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Apple to announce iPhone and iPod Touch price cuts?

Tom
Boffin

Is the iPod like the Big Mac index of consumer electronics?

I only ask, because it would make a lot of sense to use the iPod: only a few rigidly priced retailers; clockwork price reduction mechanism; Apple take a very stable cut of the RRP/BOM difference. Hmmm...

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EU president sets green plans in stone

Tom
Boffin

@Jeroen Braamhaar: energy payback

The energy payback period for an off shore windmill is rather shorter (6 months) than the financial payback period (3-8 years). When you say "an awful lot of steel, electronics and composites", you obviously haven't seen the inside of one of these things. They're cheap, they're cheerful (they make me smile) and they can be put up and paying back the installation cost before a nuclear power plant gets planning permission.

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Do we need computer competence tests?

Tom
Go

Certainly something should be done

In my university, anyone can walk in and plug their laptop (or even desktop) into the university network and, once the MAC has been registered, is free to do as they like. However, if your computer has one of a number of network spreading or botnet-zombie viruses detected on it, it's cut off until you prove it's infection free. They'll even help you reinstall it, if you want. Surely an ISP can do similar? I know that there'll be arguments of personal responsibility, and economics, but it hurts ISPs as much as the rest of us when a botnet strikes.

As for a secured browser, I've long thought that it might be worth having bank websites only respond to a certain type of secured browser, above and beyond the little padlock icon, in order to prevent phishing.

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Google tidies up iPhone apps for Macworld

Tom

How do you know who's using the internet more?

Both the iPhone and Nokia phones use versions of the safari browser, so unless you're digging quite deep, its hard to know who is visiting what.

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Microsoft set to milk mobile Messenger mavens?

Tom
Stop

I tried the symbian version of MSN Messenger

I liked the functionality - almost as good as on the desktop.

Just a couple of problems, though. It puts hotmail in your messaging app, msn messenger contacts in your address book. Oh, and in the E90 it messes up the widescreen properties of those two apps as well, making Andrew Orlowski's favourite device look craptastic.

I'll stick with Slick. The name says it all!

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New 3D chip transistor may reach 50GHz

Tom
Boffin

About time!

Its about time a breakthrough was made. Last I heard, Intels roadmaps petered out at 10nm and a section marked "here be dragons".

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Nokia N95 update speeds apps with virtual memory

Tom
Boffin

Re: Windows only????

Even getting firmware updates on windows is progress. In the old days you'd have to go to a service centre to update your phone. Oh the hilarity - two almost identical 8310s, one on O2 and one on Cellnet!

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Nokia app monitors juice

Tom
Go

I dunno

I mean, when you're running Fring or some other energy-intensive, always-on program on your phone, the battery life takes a real hit (from 3 days to "get out of my way, can't you see my phone is dying?!"). If this encourages the program makers to fine-tune their apps, or even put in an energy-save option, then it can only help.

As for its poor interaction with other programs, they aren't going to be run in isolation anyway, so it may not make all that much difference.

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Powering the mobile experience

Tom
Boffin

Dear Kev

You'll notice if you look at the new N95 8Gb (and other one, I forget the name) that it has a larger battery pack, at the cost of the camera lens cover.

If you don't like the short battery life, I suggest you take a leaf out of Brian's book, and choose a phone that does less but lasts longer. Some older SE phones might fit the bill, as will an N73.

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Singapore allows sale of 'lesbian' video game

Tom
Alert

No it doesn't

The fact that they banned it due to homosexual content, and then reversed that decision does not in any way support the reversal of the decision to ban manhunt. Manhunt was banned due to its graphic depiction of violence, which most people would agree is somewhat different to a girl-on-alien-girl kiss, especially when judged against the values of this society.

Just to spell it out: We all want more gratuitous sex, but don't want more gratuitous violence, okay?

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Winning the (propaganda) war on cancer

Tom

Excellent points, very well made

The fact is that medical treatment is expensive, and deciding whether it is worth paying for is difficult. Doctors use very obscure and hard to grasp measures of quality of life, and clarifying the use of words like "cure" and "survival" is just the start.

Perhaps once patients fully understand the implications of treatment, they'll be able to choose the level of quality and length of life they want, and doctors will be able to trust them to make their own decisions.

5 years of vomiting and pill-popping, or 1 year of normal life? Is "survival" worth it? Its worth giving it some thought...

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The Economist de-rails Microsoft media love in

Tom

Timely comments

It always amazes me that people working with technology don't understand that not everyone loves what they love (technology, and especially clever technology). This is a message that is repeated over and over again in the real world, in many subtle ways, but in the echo chamber of the internet it is lost.

To paraphrase Fry: clever things make people feel stupid, and new things make them feel scared.

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Surfers protest wave power project

Tom

If the MOD can't hold them back...

I doubt a load of surfers can.

Still, that's not a bad suggestion of putting windmills on golf courses.

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How does the heart differ from other mechanical pumps?

Tom

Not really answering the question

How the heart works is covered in GCSE biology. Physical differences from a mechanical pump are only half the story.

The heart really differs from other mechanical pumps, in a functional sense, in that the pressure remains very low throughout, and this prevents the blood cells from being destroyed (haemolysis). This is one of the major barriers to replacing the heart with a mechanical alternative.

Pumps which do mimic the low pressure conditions tend to be too large to implant in a patient.

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