* Posts by Phillip Webster

42 posts • joined 2 Feb 2007

Adobe confirms remote code-execution flaw in Reader (again)

Phillip Webster

Yep, again.

Adobe's track record for bugs recently is reminiscent of MS a decade ago with the 9x/ME debacles.

Plenty of other PDF viewers around, as mentioned by others, Foxit probably being one of the most popular although I found recent versions a little too ad-ridden so I've switched to one called Sumatra.

Making PDFs? Use Open Office or again, one of the other many free formats.

As to Flash, I think it has a variety of patents attached so Adobe may sit down hard on any competitive player in the US. May be wrong on that though. I do know they're extremely hostile to the idea of a 3rd party player.

Easiest method of stopping Flash buggering your system is to use a flashblock extension of some sort with your favourite browser (I know both FF and Chrome support it).

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Apple MacBook Pro 15in

Phillip Webster
Stop

I wouldn't.

Having home/end/pageup/pagedown as single button presses is a must have for me.

Also, I don't care about the look or weight, so I can find a cheaper laptop elsewhere.

I don't like OS X's UI in the slightest and it's total lack of reconfigurability loses a user in me where it might otherwise find one.

What I will say on the price is this: Apple laptops are always middle of the road in a lot of things. For example, you'll always find 2, 3 or maybe 4 of these, but never all: Cheaper, lighter, better/bigger screen, longer battery life, better CPU, more RAM, better graphics, more ports, bigger/better HD.

So, you pick what you want and go with it. I personally found a (much) cheaper laptop with a better screen and more ports when I bought mine (around 2 years ago) than any mac option could produce. CPU, graphics and RAM were the same, but it weighs a ton and I suspect wouldn't please the aesthetically wanton mac crowd (personally I think Macs aren't that attractive anyway, give me a plain matte black laptop any day).

Also, El Reg, please don't have slavering mactards review macs. There's far too much positive with a token paragraph at the end for some minor downpoints.

What about the missing keys on the keyboard? What about the inability to change the battery? (unless you can on this model? There's no mention of it) etc, etc. It's a nice machine but an unbiased review requires someone who doesn't go doe-eyed when looking at a picture of Jobs.

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Ubuntu's Lucid Lynx turns back on Yahoo! search switcheroo

Phillip Webster

So move them back

The location of the window controls is an easy change.

I've been moving the close button to the left (used to it from the old RISC OS days) and removing all the others for years under Linux. I don't use minimise or maximise with X.

Personal preference: Linux is good at it. Go look at the options if you're not happy with the default layout.

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Apple files 'in your face' iPhone patent

Phillip Webster
Jobs Horns

It's been done.

And I suspect this isn't the first: http://hackaday.com/2009/10/27/head-mounted-computer-with-spit-bailing-wire/

More tasteful device used there as well.

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Microsoft slings mud at Google Chrome

Phillip Webster
Badgers

Doesn't in incognito mode

And there's an option to turn the suggestions off.

I fail to see the problem here.

It does seem quite typical of Microsoft to spin "we don't have this feature" into "Google is stealing your privacy!!" though.

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Facebook gives you the clap: Official

Phillip Webster

I have always called it Faceaids

More because of the inherent privacy issues than for this reasoning though.

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Study shows gaming can hinder reading, writing progress

Phillip Webster

I blame the spoken word

Back in my day you had to READ the dialogue to play games.

Bring back text adventures!

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Steve Jobs Flash rant put to the test

Phillip Webster

@Respondees

@Grant Gibson: There aren't the sites as such, but if you're incapable of googling for "java 2d game" or ".net 2d game" then I can't help you anyway.

I work a little with OpenTK (http://www.opentk.com) which provides access to the OpenGL API from .NET/mono allowing full 3D acceleration with a much lower CPU cost than Flash seems to produce with a platform independent binary as well.

@boltar: That's kind of my point, it's unpredictable. Presumably on your wheezy laptop you aren't running any fancy window manager? As Anonymous Bastard pointed out, Flash doesn't like these and I suspect they are causing some of my problems. Running on plain XFCE is pretty safe, still get crashes though.

What I've found is the easiest method to cope is to have several browsers installed (FF, Chrome and Konqueror on my current install) with flash support as Flash works most reliably with a clean start. So when you open a page and Flash fails, just copy the URL and boot another browser. Not ideal, but it works. Mostly.

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Phillip Webster
Megaphone

Maybe for pure video

But flash is inefficient at everything. Flash games often eat an entire core for simplistic 2D worlds that if running on even the inefficient Java or .NET VMs would barely touch the CPU.

For a long, long time expecting flash to run above 10fps at high resolutions would result in disappointment.

Even now, only the Windows version of flash has any consistency of sensible framerate with the Linux version especially dying, losing sound or dropping to under 5fps. It's so bad that browser restarts every few hours are required to keep using flash on Linux.

The technology is flawed. I'm no fan of Apple, in fact I'd be as happy to see them go as flash, but they are correct in saying flash is a CPU hog.

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Canonical betas Ubuntu music store

Phillip Webster
Boffin

Bugger OGG

Offer FLAC please.

I won't use a digital music store until I have a format I can freely and easily move to other formats without degradation.

OGG is nice, and preferable to MP3, but as stated won't run on many players, such as those from the fruit brigade and converting to other formats will cause a loss in quality. Whilst FLAC won't play on inferior players, it will at least convert without that lossy -> WAV -> lossy quality hurdle.

Of course, having a media player that plays FLAC helps my choice as well. ;o)

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Hero update blocks Marketplace

Phillip Webster
Thumb Down

Glad I didn't bother with it

When I saw this update come out a few weeks ago I (among many others) asked HTC what bugs it fixed. They seemed unable to provide an answer, so I didn't bother with it since I don't have any problems with the current edition of 1.5.

Roll on 2.1.

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Apple is suing HTC

Phillip Webster
FAIL

@Michael C: Check better next time

It's mostly software-related. Multiple claims against 10 patents, 7 of which are software based.

zdnet have a nice list of them including a link to a PDF of the filing.

US software patent trolling, again.

Even the hardware ones can be seen as "obvious".

Apple: Beating Microsoft at its own game since Jesus^WJobs took back over.

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Sony Ericsson preps compact Android pair

Phillip Webster
Thumb Down

Personal preference I guess

I have an iPod Touch, other than responsiveness, the UI lacks any degree of customisability getting a big thumbs down from me.

Should sell it on really, it's near useless imo.

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Phillip Webster
Thumb Up

Yes, easily.

Just go into the options, find the "new" home screen and select "clear defaults".

Next time you hit the "Home" button you'll get a choice between home screens. You can either leave the phone with the choice or there's a tickbox which allows you to select one as default.

I use the original Android home screen on my Hero. TouchFLO is shiny and all, but I don't need 7 home screens and the default screen is a bit snappier.

Be aware you might lose any custom widgets for the supplied home screen though.

On a similar note, there's a few other home screens floating around in the Android marketplace that you can add and switch to in a similar manner.

And yet the fanbois still claim the Jesus Phone has a better UI. Sigh. ;o)

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Big Blue demos 100GHz chip

Phillip Webster
Thumb Up

Good stuff

But it's useless unless it's applicable to RAM (cheaply) and/or another breakthrough is made for RAM.

No use having a 100GHz CPU if your RAM is stuck at <3GHz with the current computing architecture.

Still, interesting development.

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ARM boss forecasts mass migration to netbooks

Phillip Webster

When will they actually arrive?

Been waiting pretty much since the first x86 netbooks were released for ARM versions. Despite repeated encouraging noises from ARM and various manufacturers and plenty of demos at shows there aren't any useful units you can actually buy.

Apple look to be the first to enter the market with a sensible ARM CPU. Just a shame it has that awful iPhone OS on it (yes, I have an iPod Touch, yes I've used it, yes I still think it's awful and I won't be able to change it on the iPad which kills any usefulness in the device for me).

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H.264 video codec stays royalty-free for HTML5 testers

Phillip Webster
Thumb Down

Not good enough

It's no use them saying "oh we'll let you use it for free for 5 years" when at any point in those 5 years they can change their mind. And what happens at the end of the 5 years? Mozilla et al has to suddenly pony up?

Ditch the patent system. It doesn't work and causes problems for the rest of the world.

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iPad forces operators to shave their SIMs

Phillip Webster
Thumb Up

Makes sense

No phone features, so what's the use in a name/number pair?

name/e-mail with optional number on the other hand DOES make sense on the iPad.

Nothing wrong with a standard address book, but having a sim that can only store phone numbers in a device that can't ring people would be odd when there's alternatives available.

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Anti-Internet Explorer 6 protests grow with online petition

Phillip Webster

Leaks in javascript

At least, it is in my experience.

Using noscript and only allowing a handful of sites through, Firefox tends to eat far less RAM and crashes much, much less. I leave my machine on 24/7 often with uptimes of several weeks (which for Windows is good) and the same instance of FF running the entire time.

Whether actual rendering speed is slower I'm unsure. If it is, it's not hugely noticeable. What is noticeable is that Firefox is far less responsive than some of its competitors with the entire UI often locking up for several seconds whilst it messes about in the background. 3.6 is marginally better, but it's not a huge improvement.

Slowly switching to Chrome here, although I don't much like the tab layout with more than 10 or so tabs open, but at least it stays responsive.

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Adobe sounds off on iPad's Flash slap

Phillip Webster
FAIL

It can, but it's all hit and miss

Using compositing desktop managers tends to mess up fullscreen.

Flash is also inherently unstable under Linux, no idea why, but it's quite often I'll be greeted with a white box (and I don't mean the flashblock one) when trying to load it. Browser restart usually fixes the problem (unless flash kills itself immediately of course). Had the same problems using the 32-bit version through nspluginwrapper and the new(ish) 64-bit version, so I'm fairly certain the problem lies in Adobe's utter lack of ability to write good software.

I'm not sure who's worse out of Apple and Adobe tbh. Neither make products I'm the slightest bit fond of. The iPad (seriously? Who came up with that? It's not even cutesy like Wii), much as I'd love to see it fail, won't. It's aimed at a netbook-a-like market of people with disposable income who will go "$450 for a boring standard netbook or $500 for a shiny-shiny apple thing that the nice people on TV said is THE BEST BROWSING EXPERIENCE EVER!!!!!" You know which they'll choose.

Flash support will cause Apple a truck-load of earache, but I doubt it will kill the device.

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SourceForge bars 5 nations from open source downloads

Phillip Webster
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I'm not getting it

The argument seems to be that exporting from the US to these countries isn't allowed under US law.

Last I checked, Sourceforge has servers in many countries, they can't ALL have similar laws with the same countries listed, can they?

I admit ignorance in the peculiarities of the export law though. Maybe there is something in there.

It is sad though that there will be people in the mentioned countries who have put together an open source project, worked hard on it and now will be unable to access or update any of that work.

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Amateur goof makes Twitter account hijacking a snap

Phillip Webster

Not with the same ease

I know Opera has the ability to do much of this stuff, but it's not at the same UI level.

For example, everything is disabled with these add-ons on Firefox, I visit a site, I get a few missing items and sometimes some scrambled content from where javascript has been used (usually unnecessarily).

If I then want to enable javascript I have an icon in the bottom-right of the browser window I can click and choose the sites I wish allowed. Usually the site the page is on itself is the most likely to be safe and will fix almost all the issues.

As far as I can tell, to get the same use out of Opera I need to go fiddling through the options to enable things each time I visit a site. I also need to know in advance which sites I need to allow (it's not always obvious where sites are getting their javascript, which is another advantage of noscript).

In short, I acknowledge Opera has the ability, but it lacks the ease of use in this area.

I do use Opera on occasion, same as I use Chrome and, if forced, IE. I just prefer the security package I currently have set up with FF for most browsing. Personal choice and all that. ;o)

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Phillip Webster
Badgers

Those moaning about Twitter

Go back and re-read the article. It's other websites as well, Twitter was just an example. Although I agree it's an over-hyped service.

Does remind me why I stick with FF despite it being a blundering memory hog these days (3.6 is a minor improvement). Still waiting on noscript-a-like support on other browsers (adblock+ and flashblock would be nice as well, but we can't have everything).

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Google betas Flash-free YouTube sans open codec

Phillip Webster

@AC

Oh I'm all for patents as a whole. They just shouldn't apply to software in the wide, vague ways they do right now.

If, for example, you created a wind-powered generator, to patent it you'd have to go into a lot of detail on every component, explaining the blades, etc, etc. Someone else could then not use that exact design, but there's nothing stopping them using a different blade method (say vertically spinning compared to horizontally spinning).

In software the patents are always hugely vague due to either money-grubbing or lack of technical expertise at the US patent office.

Take the multi-touch example for Apple's iPhone. Apple have managed to patent the pinch-to-zoom interface. There's no description of how it's done in software, just that it is. This means that no matter what any competitor does, there's no way to replicate the base idea without licensing the patent. This stifles innovation.

It's possible that if the code were properly outlined software patents would be possible, but this is already covered by copyright when copied directly (or near enough).

So, quite in contrary to your "missing the point of capitilism [sic]", designing code is copyrighted (either by yourself or the company you work for) and you'll therefore get recognition/paid/whatever for that, however software patents don't extend this protection in a useful manner and actually damage the market by promoting monopolies.

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Phillip Webster
Badgers

Does seem to be a grab for market share from Google.

MS aren't even in the game.

The stupid US patent laws get in Firefox and Opera's way. I have a suspicion without those idiocies Mozilla and Opera would both support H.264.

Apple need a kick in the head for that OGG patent comment, although it doesn't surprise me much.

Seems remarkably well timed by Google. Days after announcing the IE vulnerability and at the same time as FF 3.6 launching. How many people will ponder just switching to Chrome instead of upgrading Firefox do you think?

I guess it makes the browser game all the more interesting does show the problems of a heterogeneous web though. Although I would the security advantages in such an environment outweigh the usability disadvantages. And lets be honest, your average web goomba isn't going to notice even after it goes live anyway except as a possible UI change.

Despite all that, I welcome the removal of Flash. It's a horrible nuisance who's only aim seems to be to clog up laptops with dust by forcing them to run their fans at full speed unnecessarily.

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Rickets rise linked to excessive gaming

Phillip Webster
FAIL

Gaming: Society's evil

Maybe the parents just aren't feeding their sprogs healthily enough more likely.

Easier to blame the latest set of media though isn't it.

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Hacker brings multitouch to Google's Nexus One

Phillip Webster
Jobs Horns

HTC put it in the Hero

At least on the gallery and browser.

Very nice it is too.

I suppose Apple are patent-trolling it again.

Wish the US would grow up and ban software patents. It's damaging products the rest of the world would like.

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More MIDs with ARM than Atom by 2013

Phillip Webster
Thumb Up

Not as crazy as you might think

RISC OS Open has been ported to the Beagleboard (although, last I checked not proeprly ported, more "it runs, but not well") courtesy of some dedicated people in the ever-shrinking community

Talking of the RISC OS community, one of the old stalwart websites, The Iconbar, has a round up of ARM stuff from it: http://www.iconbar.co.uk/forums/viewthread.php?threadid=11316&page=1

Oh, article on the Beagleboard port as well: http://www.iconbar.co.uk/articles/RISC_OS_on_OMAP_-_the_future/index1224.html

Bit old now, but still interesting.

However, RISC OS isn't really going to make a come back, it's lack of pre-emptive multi-tasking kills it for most "modern" things, even browser-wise the best it has is a port of Firefox 2 and Netsurf, of which the latter has no Javascript support, but is very nippy even on an old StrongARM RiscPC.

Looking forward to Linux on ARM netbooks though with proper batteries that last days instead of hours.

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Apple and Microsoft plot iPhone Google slap

Phillip Webster

Amusing

But I suspect it means little more than having the option "Bing" in the Safari default search options.

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Survey outs Britain as nation of tech twits

Phillip Webster

Bill Gates

"Three per cent identified Bill Gates as an American comedian."

Well I always thought Windows was the tech industry's biggest joke. ;o)

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Bono accuses ISPs of 'reverse Robin Hooding' over piracy

Phillip Webster
Thumb Down

Bollocks

Oh the irony of the media industry calling the ISP industry "rich" whilst portraying itself as losing out.

ISPs have a pretty hard time of it due to the established single-sum business model. They oversell what they own and then a minority of their customers eat most of the bandwidth. They live on slim profit margins (especially in the UK, largely as a result of BT) and I would go so far as to say piracy hurts ISPs more than it hurts the music industry.

Pretty sure new artists are the ones losing out the least on this. In my experience people are far more willing to buy smaller artist's tracks than bigger ones, moving on from that piracy can actually help smaller artists as it gets their music heard by a larger audience resulting in more fans who may well buy or attend gigs in the future.

It all smells a bit Lily Allen blog-ish to me.

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Samsung's Galaxy stuck in history

Phillip Webster
FAIL

A few mistakes

In the article.

There's the $10 iPhone one as mentioned by others.

Also there's the statement that because a version of 2.0 with no optimisations included purely for testing and ripped from the emulator in the SDK runs slowly on a G1 that a full release of 2.0 with optimisations and much more would struggle on different phones with the same basic chipset. This seems rather speculative and ignores the information in the linked-to video. Bad journalism there. Or maybe it's more of El Reg's recent "google is evil" campaign...

The only consideration would be if the Galaxy has the storage space, 2.0 is quite a lot bigger than 1.5/1.6, but I've not checked the specs closely for that.

I do think that anyone buying the Galaxy expecting it to have an upgrade to 2.0 without Samsung explicitly stating they would should have thought twice about the phone. But 1.5 isn't exactly a slacker either. I've a Hero with 1.5 and whilst I would enjoy an update to 2.0 (HTC have said they will) I'm happy with the phone as it is and knew I would be before I bought it. Little bit of thinking before purchasing goes a long way.

on the other hand I suspect Samsung have lost people who would probably have moved to another Samsung phone as a result of not looking after them. My last phone was a Samsung, had loads of problems with it including spectrum-a-like loading screens whenever the bluetooth stack was pushed too hard. Bit of a fail, no firmware updates, lost me as a customer.

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Googlephone Nexus One leaks more news

Phillip Webster
Thumb Up

Bravo

Looks like the same specs that were leaked for the HTC Bravo, although that's due later in the year.

So, re-badged Bravo it is then. Choice of covers. ;o)

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Serious web vuln found in 8 million Flash files

Phillip Webster
Badgers

Noscript and flashblock

Once again to the rescue.

It's really getting quite tiresome because I prefer Chrome as a browser but I'm too paranoid to surf around without scripts and flash blocked. :oP

Hoping for Chrome analogues to the mentioned extensions at some point.

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Google contradicts self, confirms own Googlephone

Phillip Webster

5 steps?

Looking at my Hero here; from any app on the phone I can just hit the "call" button, type the number/first few letters of a contact and hit dial. Oh and when I'm done it will just drop back into whatever app I was using.

Hardly "5 steps" and the lack of a dedicated phone button on the iPhone would indicate to me that Apple's little box would require more steps. Although I only own an iPod Touch so can't confirm that.

I do wonder if the phone mentioned in the article might be a re-badged HTC Bravo (due out April next year).

Nice fast CPU, OLED screen, 5MP camera with flash... Only thing that looks a little dodgy on it is the optical sensor instead of a rollerball.

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Microsoft urges Flash makers to pay fat dollar for exFAT format

Phillip Webster
Gates Horns

It would be nice if...

The US could join the (patent) free world sometime.

Not really much else to say on the FS front.

FAT isn't a particularly pleasant format, but you don't need super performance from most removable storage anyway and it's already widely available so may as well stick with it from that perspective. Just a shame about the licensing farce.

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Hackers root Motorola Droid

Phillip Webster
WTF?

Eww.

What's the point in an Android phone you have to poke in the same way as Apple's rubbish to use properly?

Stick with my Hero, ta. Can install all I like on there with nothing more than a tickbox in the settings.

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Facebook urges public exposure in 'privacy' revision

Phillip Webster
FAIL

It is bad.

Seems there's a split as to which way it sends you with that initial screen.

There is still a privacy options list of settings from the top-right dodgy menu system though.

I would have liked more options than just "everyone" and "old settings" from that initial screen though, something like "everyone", "friends only", "friends of friends" and "old settings", with "old settings" set by default. This is the option given in the main privacy settings list, but I suspect most people won't ever visit it and so they'll either have "everyone" or "old settings" (which will quite likely also be "everyone"). Not really much of a help.

In short, I think the privacy screen has been improved, but the "update your settings" screen is a joke.

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2009's Top Android Smartphones

Phillip Webster
Jobs Horns

I think you need to re-look at Android

Owning both an iPod Touch and a Hero I can honestly say the Hero UI beats Apples rather plain UI all over. No widgets or backgrounds? No real ability to customise where the icons are placed (just their order) it's pretty bad. Sure it brought in a new generation of smart phones, but it's not as good as many make out.

Same goes for the music player. I find the iPod Touch's rather bewildering. On such an advanced device why can't I rename a playlist _ON_ the device itself? Instead I'm forced to use the nightmare that is iTunes. In comparison the Hero's player is a doddle to use, I'm not following the "needs a few usability tweaks" at all, the only things it lacks are FLAC playback and quickly skipping through tracks, with the Touch lacking FLAC support as well.

The CPU is only underpowered if you use touchflo. Which is nice, but it's a bit slow. Drop back to the default Android UI and you lose minimal functionality (just a few customising and HTC-specific widgets for which there are replacements in the marketplace) and gain a lot of speed.

In short, the iPhone was nice a few years ago, but with the 1.5 release on the Hero, Android overtook it. It would be nice to have a few extra multi-touch features (since Android supports single-touch screens as well, the apps are based around this) but with the Hero you at least have the same pinch-to-zoom as on the iPhone for pictures and browsing.

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Microsoft unveils Windows 7 free upgrades and discounts

Phillip Webster
Thumb Up

Command line.

Open command prompt and:

ftp ftp.mozilla.org

ftp ftp.opera.com

login "anonymous" on both and away you go.

My, wasn't that hard.

Yes, I do see the irony of needing a command line on the supposedly command-line-free Windows. ;o)

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Asus goes official on extended Eee PC line-up

Phillip Webster
Gates Horns

@James Pickett

It's possible the video dropout on iPlayer was more due to the poor quality of Adobe's flash plugin than the machine itself.

I've not run an Eee PC myself, but I do use a Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz (with a Geforce 8600M for graphics) laptop and I still get choppy video under Linux.

It's a shame because it's one of the few uses I have to boot into Windows for (XP or Vista, they're both as bad as each other imo ;o))

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A PC to call your own...

Phillip Webster

Powermenu

A handy litle shell extension I've found is Powermenu. Actually extends the standard Restore/minimise/maximise/close menu for every window adding "always on top" and "minimise to system tray" among others. BIG help with the windows XP update "Reboot your computer" window, since you can just tell powermenu to minimise it to the system tray and it no longer bugs you. Not an solution to the original issue, but one that prevents you tearing your hair out when it pops up for the 20th time.

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