* Posts by Chris

36 posts • joined 17 Aug 2007

Judge backs Halifax in Chip and PIN clone case

Chris

@WhatWasThat?

"According to the court document, 300 mil chip & pin cards are in use..."

No, according to the court document, 300 million cards have been issued since Chip & Pin was introduced, which was 5 years ago (6 if you include the pilot scheme). If the cards my bank (the one with an equine flavour) issues are typical of cards from other banks, then they get replaced due to expiry every 2-3 years, so most if not all of the original cards have been replaced at least once. On top of that you'd get issued with a new card if you change banks, or change branches or accounts within the same bank. Credit cards are reissued if the issuing bank/company decides to switch from Visa to Mastercard or vice versa. On top of all of that, people may well have multiple cards at any one time.

So given all of that, 300 million cards issued over 5 years just within the UK doesn't sound quite so unreasonable.

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iPod poised for multitouch scroll wheel

Chris
Jobs Horns

If only...

...they'd adopted some of these ideas in the existing iPods - I keep wanting to swipe my thumb across the scrollwheel from top to bottom (or vice versa) to scroll through long lists, where using the rotary action is just too damn slow. AFAIK the existing scrollwheel hardware (at least on the Classic) would be capable of recognising such an input, but nooooo, we have to keep spinning around and around and around until the firmware *finally* decides to switch from line-by-line to accelerated scrolling modes, by which time my thumb is about ready to die and I've forgotten what artist/song I was trying to find anyway.

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Non-beta Google betas may lose beta tags

Chris

@Keith T

"I think all the other IT professionals out there will agree that people should not install beta versions of software on computers they need for work or school."

Not if the beta version just happens to work better than the release version, which sadly is all too often the case with engineering software. I think you may actually find that, whilst the official line is to install only release candidates, the unofficial line is to install whichever version gets the job done with the minimum of hassle. And if that means having perhaps two, three, four or more versions of the same utility installed, each of which you know happens to work better than the others in a certain situation, then so be it.

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Ocarina makes waves with lossless image compression

Chris

@AC 12:00

I guess it depends on how much space you're going to save, I suspect large image repository operators like Photobucket might be interested. It's one thing for a home user to pop down to Maplin/PC World/Tesco and grab an extra few hundred GB of space for the price of a decent night out, it's quite another for a company to fork out tens/hundreds of thousands for the new drives, servers to put them in, racks to put the servers in, server rooms to stick the racks in, power supplies and cooling systems to keep the servers happy...

Storage might be cheaper than it's ever been, but that doesn't necessarily make it cheap when you're talking high volume, and especially not when you factor in the associated costs that come with those volumes.

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Billy Bragg: Three-strikes lobbying is 'shameful'

Chris

Artists yay, record companies nay

@Albert: "Imagine what it woudl be like without record companies promoting artists. How would you get heard above the myspace noise."

By producing the sort of music people genuinely want to listen to, and waiting approximately... ooh, about that long for word of your latest cool tune to start spreading. Record company promotion seems to take the form of focussing on one or two artists, getting their songs played over and over and over and over and over and over and over again on every radio and TV station on the planet, until we're all brainwashed into thinking that this is the only sort of music out there and we really really must go buy a copy right now...

Don't get me wrong, some of the stuff that's on heavy promotional playback I do actually like, but there's an awful lot of it that I'd happily leave to burn in the gutter without even spitting on it as I walked by. Conversely, there's an awful lot of damn good music out there that I'd never have got to listen to if it were just down to the record industry promotional machine, but which thanks to various sources (some legal, some, uhh, a bit less so...) I've been able to experience.

Doing away with highly-focused promotional campaigns might mean those few artists who'd have been the subject of those campaigns end up earning less than they otherwise would, but it'd also give the majority of artists the chance to earn a living on a level playing field. Let them all sink or swim based on the music they produce, NOT on whether or not they've got a multi-million quid ad campaign behind them.

@Olly Simmons: "Yeah, cause people don't want to pay for music, that's why Itunes went down the bog. Oh no wait, it didn't, not quite got your facts right there have we Billy."

iTunes survives because it's part of the iPod/Phone ecosystem, and makes it really quite easy to legally obtain the exact bit of music you want, at whatever time of the day or night you get the urge to buy it, at a price which isn't entirely unreasonable, and delivered there and then in a format which can be played immediately. Do you think iTunes would stand a chance of survival if someone were to open up a rival site which provided the same ease of use and the same catalogue of tracks, but which offered it all for free and without any risk of attracting the attention of the record industry legal hit squads? I don't...

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Tram driver crashes while texting

Chris

@Sean Baggaley

"Seriously. Go do some research into the history of transportation and the evolution of signalling systems. Here's a clue: cutting the power to the electrified track section behind a vehicle is something the London Underground was doing in the *1800s*. (You can still see the mechanical trip-cocks on the sub-surface lines at stations: they're the little pedals which rise up and down near the signals. These won't be around much longer though.)"

Not sure why you're mentioning trip-cocks in the same breath as cutting traction current, when one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. Given the size of the present traction current sections on LU and their vague correspondence to the location of each signalling block section, it'd be impossible to protect each train by shutting down the power behind them without significantly reducing the number of trains you could operate at any one time.

Hence the use of trainstops (which are the things you see next to the tracks - trip-cocks are the corresponding devices mounted on the trains) which cause the brakes to be automatically applied if a train passes the trainstop whilst raised. Note the significant safety benefit here over the "cutting the traction current" idea - it'll work regardless of what power source the train uses, which is quite handy given that not every train running on LU tracks takes its power from the 3rd/4th rails...

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Microsoft rebrands WGA nagware for Windows 7

Chris
Pirate

It's been said before...

...the more intrusive/annoying/irritating you make anti-piracy technology, the more likely you are to turn a potentially honest customer into a pirate.

As spectacularly refined chap points out, any activation scheme which involves generating keys tied into specific PCs is also potentially a means to coerce people into upgrading when the licence server mysteriously stops giving out keys for that version of the product... After I built my current PC I went to install the completely legit copy of HollywoodFX I'd bought about a year or so previously. The installation went just fine, right up to the point where it needed to get a new activation key... Despite trying several times over the space of several weeks, the licencing server flatly refused to provide a key. So, did I head straight for the suppliers website to order a newer version, or did I head straight for the nearest purveyor of all things dodgy to look for a keygen/crack?

Lee Downling: Durell-branded leader tape... aaah yes, that brings back a whole childhoods-worth of happy memories!

Barry Tabrah: I don't think WGA is the reason fewer people are pirating Vista than earlier versions of Windows. Rather, I strongly suspect that the overwhelming majority of Vista users are only Vista users because their shiny new PC came with it preinstalled, and not because they made a conscious decision to get Vista. XP was pirated so much because it was seen as a genuine upgrade to all those people with PCs supplied with 9x/2000, or to people who were building PCs from scratch. But to someone with a well-bedded down XP installation, Vista really - despite what MS and Vista fans claim - isn't all that attractive as an upgrade option, so there simply isn't the same level of desire to get a copy by fair means or foul as there was for XP.

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Videogame history project successfully emulates CRT on LCD

Chris

@AC 11:17

As you've already pointed out, low-res TV screens are CRTs, so I don't see there's a problem here - if you're assuming that CRT = high quality then that's your call, but it doesn't mean you're right ;-) *Some* CRTs are high quality, but in the context of this article I doubt you'd have found many 80's gamers hooking up their consoles/8-bitters to anything more advanced than the family TV, and more often than that just a cheap and cheerful portable. They were all still CRTs though.

As for CRT vs LCD - don't you place any value on the inherent geometric accuracy of LCD screens? Given the choice of spending hours fine-tuning the geometry settings on a high quality CRT, or simply switching on a LCD and getting perfect geometry every single time, I'll take the latter thanks. And with improvements in technology (adaptive LED backlighting, OLED etc.), achieving true black output is just a stone's throw away...

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Swiss woman rolled over Facebook

Chris

Written during my lunch break, in case my boss is reading...

@Tim Greenwood

Mid-30's here, and I feel the same regarding pride, self esteem, integrity... The closest I've come to pulling a sickie was when I used up the full two weeks I'd been signed off for following a retinal reattachment op. Having never been under the knife before, and with it being a fairly invasive op on an important bit of my body, I was following the recovery procedure to the letter, so when the consultant decided I should take two weeks off work, two weeks is what I took.

@ AC 11:57

Mmm, that's my thought as well regarding this story - assuming she was sacked based *solely* on her sickbed Facebookery. Even in the first day or two following the op mentioned above, I wasn't so completely incapacitated that I could only lie quietly in bed doing SFA. Yes, I needed to rest every hour or so, but I was still capable of spending a bit of time online or watching TV inbetween. And since I wasn't able to sleep for more than an hour or so at a time (having several rows of stitches in your eyeball is no fun...), I probably spent as much time online throughout each 24 hour period as I'd have spent in front of the PC at work in a normal 8 hour working day. But somehow I didn't think my employers would want me coming in, working for 20-30 minutes, sleeping, doing another bit of work, sleeping...

So whilst I find it rather annoying that some people seem to think it's OK to lie about illness in order to get a few extra days holiday (not to mention damn unfair on anyone who's genuinely unable to work and is then worried about having to call in sick for fear of being labelled a skiver), employers do need to realise that just because someone who's ill might be able to perform the same tasks as they're required to do at work, it doesn't necessarily mean they're able to perform those tasks over an extended period of time.

But as others have suggested, there's probably more to this story than has been reported so far - even in a tough economy, I can't believe any employer would pull the trigger on an employee for a single incident like this.

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The Pirate Bay loads cannon with official appeal

Chris

The bus ticket analogy...

...isn't a bad one, but not in the way Macca intended it to be. As many of us - but not Mr McC apparently - are well aware, if you're a regular bus user you can buy weekly, monthly or annual bus passes, which not only save you money on all the trips you were going to make anyway, but also then lets you use the bus for other trips which are then essentially freebies. Hmm, sounds like the sort of all you can eat idea many people have been suggesting is the way forward for music licencing, but which the music industry has been rather reluctant to adopt. But now that the idea has been given the blessing of his royal holiness, perhaps they'll take it more seriously...

...yeah OK, you can all stop laughing now!

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iPhone beta OS cracks before release

Chris
Thumb Up

@Mac Phreak

Not every iPhone user is tied into such a restrictive contract - perhaps you'd like to read the terms and conditions for the O2 iPhone Pay & Go tariff...

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Pirate Bay guilty verdict: Now what?

Chris

@AC 11:01

Yup. The wife and I are regular visitors to a torrent site set up specifically to provide access to TV shows, who's name leaves you in no doubt that it exists to provide TV torrents... All of the shows we download from this site are shows we could watch on terrestrial or satellite (and as payers of both the TV Licence and SkyHD subs, we are entitled to watch them on whichever channels they're shown), and many of them are shown here within a week or so of their US broadcast. So why do we bother torrenting them?

1. Even on a standard def torrent, the image quality is better than the over-compressed garbage we get on Sky (non HD) or Freeview, and the HD torrents are easily the equal of what Sky provides on its HD channels when it can be bothered to source HD material instead of just upscaling SD material and slapping a HD logo in the corner of the screen.

2. The time we have available to sit down and watch grown-up TV shows is limited - most days if we're lucky we might have a couple of hours at the end of the day after getting our 18 month-old son off to bed and before we then have trouble staying awake. So when we want to catch up on the latest events in the lives of Jack Bauer, the Petrelli Family, the Dharma Initiative etc., we'd really rather like it if we could just press play and have the show start straight away, AND then not have our viewing interrupted every 10 minutes or so by 5 minutes of ads, especially since the SkyHD boxes are notoriously bad at fast-forwarding (can anyone tell me what the point of 12x and 30x modes are, when they're slower than 6x mode?) and even worse at responding to remote commands once you're in fast-forward mode. So far, every single episode we've downloaded has been edited to perfection, with no extraneous material preceding the start of the episode (compare this to the couple of minutes we have to add onto the start of each Sky+ recording to guarantee the start of the show will be recorded even if the guide timings have deviated from reality once again), and has always been stripped of all ad breaks - in some cases so cleanly that you'd be hard pushed to point out where the breaks were in the first place.

3. The user interface provided by XP Media Centre makes the Sky+ interface look like something knocked together by Fisher-Price (and actually, now I think about it, that's being unkind to FP...). Considering how many shows you can fit onto an unmodified SkyHD box, it beggars belief that Sky still persist with the same tired recorded show listings which become increasingly unuseable as you get beyond a couple of screens-worth of shows. Can't sort it, can't move stuff up and down the list, can't tell which episode is which without pressing the i button...

4. We don't have to worry that, if anything happens to our media centre PC, we lose all our recordings - everything is backed up elsewhere on our local network, and if necessary we could simply re-download most if not all of it again. If the SkyHD box goes belly up, chances are we'd lose everything...

In short, the torrented versions of the shows are better quality and more user-friendly than the versions we could view via the respective broadcasters. So why would we want to go back to watching them over the air?

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Pirate Bay loses trial: defendants face prison time, hefty fines

Chris
Unhappy

This didn't come as a surprise...

@Ian: I too figured they'd end up losing, though I'd decided that before the coverage of the trial had even begun and the confidence/arrogance of the TPB crew became known - whilst there have been "interesting" legal outcomes in other such cases, AFAIK they've always been as the result of appeals and retrials, whereas the initial verdicts have always gone the way the *AA's have wanted them to go. So for TPB to be found guilty in the initial trial isn't a surprise, but if (and I hope they do) they go to appeal then I wouldn't be too surprised to see a different outcome.

@Lee Jackson: Oh dear...

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Wanna upgrade from Windows 7 beta? Go back to Vista first

Chris
Thumb Down

@Ken Hagan

"In this case, if you are running a BETA system (that was given to you for evaluation purposes only) full-time, you deserve what you get."

Umm, surely it's in Microsoft's best interests for as many people as possible to be running the beta as often as possible in scenarios that most closely match the way the release version would be used? And what better way to achieve that match than to simply use the beta full-time as your primary OS...

Also, suggesting that they're just a bunch of freeloaders is rather unfair, since they're worried about the upgrade path from the beta to the full version which rather implies that they WANT to switch to the full version once its available. Of course, maybe they all just want to be able to switch to a hookey copy of the full version, but suggesting that would be equally unfair, and considering how many of them seem to have been having a bloody good experience with the beta, I suspect more than a few of them would find the idea of paying for a legit copy a lot easier to swallow than if they'd never been able to give the beta such a thorough extended workout.

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Olympic cock-up knocks East London off Internet

Chris
Alert

What if...

...the builders dug exactly where the planners told them to dig to avoid the documented location of all underground obstacles, but the documents were wrong? It's easy to point the finger of blame at the workmen on site now, but it wouldn't be the first time people have gone digging in an area that was supposedly clear of obstructions only to discover a tunnel/pipeline/etc that either was shown as being in a different location, or wasn't even shown in the first place.

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Super Talent flashes the big whopper

Chris

@AC 11:20

If the article is correct about the transfer rates being GBytes/sec rather than GBits/sec, then I think you'll find very few controllers would be able to keep up, and those that do are almost certainly not going to be found as standard on the average home/SOHO motherboard. PCIe slots, on the other hand...

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Most undergraduates 'show fear when asked to do maths'

Chris
Happy

@Matt Bryant

"Actually, one of my maths teachers was an absolute hottie on the Sharon Stone scale. I didn't learn much maths but I certainly enjoyed a lot of the summer lessons!"

Sounds like we could have gone to the same school, because that's a perfect description of the non-Cookie Monster half of my A-level maths teaching team... which is maybe why, despite learning plenty in his lessons, I only managed to get a B ;-)

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Chris

@AC 11:40

"Unfortunately, it's rare to find a maths teacher who actually sees this inherent beauty"

So true, all of the eng.maths lecturers I encountered during my electronics degree may well have known the subject inside and out at a technical level, but they had no clue how to make their lectures any more interesting or engaging than simply spending an hour in the library reading through a maths text book... Indeed, so bad was the lecturer we got lumbered with in our first year, that many of us ended up relying on the recommended textbook (Engineering Mathematics by Ken Stroud - a classic amongst engineering texts, and one I still fall back on from time to time in my professional life) to teach us what we needed both to pass the exams and understand all the maths being thrown at us in the other lectures.

On the other hand, my A-level years were made eminently enjoyable thanks to the one and only Chris Cook, a maths teacher who didn't just understand the subject but REALLY knew how to deliver it. I still can't forget the day he decided to bring his bike into the classroom to give us a practical demonstration of forces and moments, which concluded with him hopping onto the saddle and cycling off down the corridor... Then there was the time he explained vectors with lengths of washing line strung across the classroom and an orange (to represent the origin, of course). A true master of his subject, and one of many such gifted teachers (all of who, with the exception of my drama teacher, were in the science/engineering subjects - most of the arts and all of the humanities teachers I had really didn't help to make those subjects anything more than tolerable) I was fortunate to encounter during my formative years.

On the wider point of the UK needing more sci/eng people in positions of power - surely the level of intelligence required to become even a half-decent scientist or engineer means we'd be overqualified for the role of politician...

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Subsidized netbook model could sweep away 20 years of PC history

Chris

Maybe defining what a netbook is would have helped...

"Steve Jobs has said the iPhone does everything a netbook does anyway"

Maybe using his definition of "netbook", but using the one that pretty much every other manufacturer uses then the iPhone falls short of the mark. Yes, a high-spec phone will allow you to do much of what a real netbook does, but for me the one crucial difference is that a phone or any of the other really cheap netbook-wannabes can't run the exact same software as I use on my computer at home - I might be able to replicate most/all of the same functionality using different software, but sometimes I want/need access to the *same* software when I'm on the move. Considering how capable my WinMo Touch Pro is, taking a Jobsian attitude would mean my AspireOne would remain unused at home gathering dust whilst I was out and about. Which it doesn't...

"We don’t know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk”

So hire some decent engineers who understand the concept of cost-sensitive design without compromising on the essential specifications. If Acer can build the quite frankly pretty impressive AspireOne for $300 (according to Best Buy), then just how much money does Jobs think it'd take to pimp a similar baseline design out sufficiently for him to deem it worthy of an Apple badge? Actually, I wonder just what changes he thinks would be necessary, because from where I sit the hardware is as close to perfection as I could hope for given the size of the thing - the screen is beautifully clear, the keyboard beats seven shades of youknowwhat out of the hideous excuse for a keyboard he thought was worthy of the Macbook, the whole thing just works.

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Playmobil Bible faces wrath of lawyers

Chris

@Mike Tree

"I can't imagine Citroen complaining about the 1000s of people who modify their Saxos."

Oh, if only they would...

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Microsoft kills MSN Encarta

Chris
Thumb Up

@t'other Chris

Not a plugin so I don't expect payment for it, but simply adding "-wikipedia" to your search terms (in Google at least) should sanitise the results nicely...

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Acer sued for shipping Vista-book with GB of memory

Chris

@Paul Chapman

$150 to fit memory to and re-guarantee an Aspire One might be fair enough, but as with Lager and Crisps earlier, you've seen the "book" catchphrase and assumed it must be preceded with "net" rather than "note"... Re-read the article, specifically the section which mentions exactly which model of Acer is involved, and then decide if $150 is still justified.

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Chris

This title has been left intentionally blank...

@Lager And Crisps

*note*book, not netbook...

@AC 29th March 2009 12:09

Who'd buy a PC at Walmart/Tesco/etc? Me. I've been building/upgrading my own PCs for the last 15 years, so I'm no stranger to the usual (and not so usual) dedicated suppliers for both components and complete systems. But when it comes to stuff like lower-end systems where you care more about getting your hands on it quickly at a decent price than on getting the specification absolutely perfect, then grabbing a box off the shelf as you do your regular trip to the shops for bread and milk isn't such a bad idea.

And the returns policies of the supermarkets tend to be a bit more favourable to the consumer than the average PC retailer... PC specialist - arrange RMAs, pay to send the item back, wait fingers crossed to see if their in-house fault resolution team will verify the fault exists or just deny all existence of it, possibly end up having the item then sent off to the manufacturer for further analysis, and eventually after a few weeks get a refund or a replacement (which may only be a refurb unit). Supermarket - take faulty item back in the next time you run out of bread and milk, spend 30s telling the bod on the customer service desk that "it's broke", swipe credit card to get instant refund/walk over to appropriate part of store to pick up brand new replacement. Sorted.

So whilst I'll stick with the specialists for my self-builds and upgrades, when it comes to off the shelf stuff like net/notebooks I've no qualms about buying them from the local supermarket.

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Apple proves: It pays to be late

Chris

@Lantz

"If you want to say 4 by mentioning the Classic, well that's just a leftover from early days and doesn't really count. The Touch is the replacement for the Classic and represents the high end music player."

My wife has a 16GB Touch and absolutely loves it because she never had more than about 8-9GB of music on her old 120GB iPod, and the combination of wifi and decent browser means she can check her regular online haunts without having to lug her laptop all around the house with her.

Me, on the other hand... yeah, the PDA-ness of the Touch appeals to me, but I've already got a Touch that provides all my PDA needs, it just wears a HTC logo instead of an Apple one. And I've got roughly 120GB of stuff on my Classic with probably 10-15GB more waiting to be encoded/transferred off the PC, so the idea of even the 32GB Touch being a replacement for it really doesn't work for me. Now, if there was a Touch with at least 128GB of storage, for around 200 quid, then I'd be interested. Until then, the only replacement for the Classic is another Classic.

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Sky calls for access to cable network

Chris

@Matt Young

"now hands up, who doesnt at least know someone with a dodgy cable box or modem?"

One hand on heart, one hand in the air, I can honestly say I'm not aware of anyone I know being in possession of a dodgy cable box/modem. OTOH, dodgy Sky access cards... both hands dive quickly into my pockets as I exit the room, whistling innocently to myself. If the risk of losing revenue through hacked receivers really was the reason for Sky to pull channels from Virgin, then it'd simply be another instance of a food warming container suggesting that a water boiling implement had a rather dark hue about it.

Chris - a Sky and VM subscriber, who knows which of the two he mistrusts the least...

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iPhone 3.0 adds cut-and-paste, search, new dev toys

Chris

@Dave Cumming

"iPhone users are already paying for it with their higher purchase prices and line rentals."

A quick browse of the O2 site says that I can get an 8GB iPhone with 75 minutes, 125 texts and unlimited web access for £29.38/month and £96.89 upfront for the iPhone. The equivalent non-iPhone contract is £2.46 less per month. So, the iPhone user here is effectively paying (over the 18 month contract) a total of £141.17 for the iPhone. Which is pretty much the same as the cheapest online prices for an 8GB iPod Touch, and about 20 quid less than most places (Apple included) expect you to pay for one. And if our iPhone user is a particularly heavy phone user, and could justify spending more each month on their contract, they'd be paying even less (nothing at all with some contracts) for the hardware...

Now sure, the overall price they're paying is higher, but if they weren't paying for the iPhone contract they'd be paying for some other mobile contract anyway (I can't imagine why anyone would fork out for an iPhone+contract if they weren't interested in having a mobile contract and just wanted the hardware...), so it seems fair to separate the contract costs and hardware costs for this comparison.

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Cold-water treatment for Ballmer on Windows Mobile

Chris

@Jason Rivers

"should I point out now that the iPhone is a single device, while Windows mobile is on... How many...?"

Should I point out that, regardless of how many different Windows Mobile devices there are out there (and from a consumer pov having such a choice is no bad thing), most of us only buy one phone at a time...

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Ten of the best... noise-isolating earphones

Chris

@Jake & Tom

@Jake:

Nope, people should just start being taught the Green Cross Code again - I've lost count of the number of times idiots have simply stepped into the road without looking, without there being any indication that their attention was being distracted by mobile phones, MP3 players etc. And don't get me started on the subset of these idiots who pull stupid moves like this with a pushchair in front of them...

@Tom:

Yep, got two pairs of CX300's here, and not only do they do a wonderful job of blocking external noise, but they're also the most comfortable earbuds I've tried. As a bonus, the length of cable provided with them also seems to work quite nicely as a personal DAB radio aerial, unlike the shorter cables found on many earphones/buds.

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Microsoft just wants to be touched

Chris

@Mac Phreak

Sounds like the iPhone is exactly what you were looking for in a mobile - either that or you've revised your requirements based around a desire stay within the Apple ecosystem rather than try one of the alternative offerings from a less fruity supplier - and that's fine and dandy, but please don't make the classic and utterly flawed assumption that everyone else's needs can be similarly met.

As long as Apple continue to try and exert OTT levels of control over what the owner of their shiny phones are allowed to do with the devices they're paying not incosiderable sums of money for, I couldn't care less how polished the UI is, how slick the OS is, how beautifully crafted the hardware is (though some of the recent WinMo offerings from HTC are pretty damn solid build-quality wise, even if they might lack the finer aesthetic touches), because I won't be using any of it. The iPhone simply doesn't offer anything I need so desperately that I'd be willing to pay for a device that physically may be in my possession, but which is still at least partly controlled by Apple.

In contrast, despite their reputation for being something of a control freak in the desktop arena, Microsoft have continued to surprise and delight me by keeping the mobile OS pretty much an open book. Rolling your sleeves up and diving into the registry allows for untold customisations to be made, and third-party software is readily available without it first having to be blessed by the software high priests (and so giving you the choice to accept or reject it, rather than having to trust in the judgment or ulterior motives of someone else *cough* Apple *cough* to accept/reject it on your behalf). When I buy a WinMo device, it's mine. I decide how it gets configured, what gets installed. Granted, this means there's plenty of scope to leap with both feet into the smelly brown stuff and end up with a brick, but that's a risk and responsibility I'm happy to take on given the benefits.

Sure , there's lots to dislike about WinMo, even after all the iterations it's gone through, but until Android development steps up a gear or two, and until Android-compatible hardware stops looking and behaving like prototypes that've escaped into the wild, then there isn't any alternative for people who want a mobile OS that gives them the ability to tweak and twiddle and use the hardware to its fullest.

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The Electric Car Conspiracy ... that never was

Chris

@p3ngwin/Roland

@p3ngwin

Back in the days when job security meant something more than "you'll still have this job by the end of next week, probably...", it wasn't such a big deal to lay down your family roots in a home near to where you worked. These days, with a more fluid job market which can and does force people to change working locations on a regular basis, expecting people to then relocate their homes every few years just to keep the daily commute down to a few miles is crazy. That assumes, of course, that everyone in the household works in the same area and relocating the home wouldn't then force someone else to start commuting long distances instead...

Sure, *some* people make a conscious decision to live long distances from where they work, but many people would gladly live closer to where they work if the houses in that area were affordable or the area wasn't a total dive - very few people actually like spending hours stuck in heavy traffic, or wedged into a packed commuter train/bus, but it's a less disagreeable alternative to driving yourself into debt trying to keep up the rent/mortgage repayments, or wondering how many of your windows will have been broken/doors kicked in/walls daubed with grafitti by the time you get home from work that day.

@Roland

Perhaps in the US the only 7-seaters Volvo offer are the likes of the XC90, but over on this side of the pond (where our Volvo driver appears to reside) you can get a V70 estate with two extra seats in the back, making it a genuine 7-seater. If you then throw in a diesel engine, 50mpg becomes quite achievable...

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Plastic police to enforce London bag ban?

Chris
Happy

Democracy in action...

...or not. As a London resident who'd never heard of the "London Councils" group, let alone their plastic bag consultation, until the results were published, I wonder how many people (besides the handful who bothered to respond) actually knew the questions were being asked. And although I'm no statistician, it seems slightly suspect to extrapolate a 90% approval across all of London for the proposals, when only 0.02ish% of the population responded at all...

I have to wonder, given the effectively non-existent level of response from Londoners in general, just how and where the consultation had been announced - the apparently overwhelming support makes me think there may have been an element of selection bias, because I can't believe the result would have been so strongly in favour if the question had been asked of, and answered by, a larger group of randomly chosen Londoners. I also have to wonder just how many other "public" consultations take place with similarly low levels of awareness/response.

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Satanic car key traps 12 motorists in car park of horror

Chris

RTFM...

Probability that any of the vehicles affected were genuinely inaccessible - zero, or some really close approximation to it.

Probalility that the owners had failed to so much as take the user manual out of its wallet, let alone bother to read even a single page of it like, ooh, I dunno, perhaps the bit that explains exactly what to do when the remote fob stops working - absofragginlutely huge...

Maybe, just maybe, there's a manufacturer out there so supremely stupid that they'd build a car incapable of being unlocked by any other means if the remote fob stopped working, but I'd suggest it's far (and by far, I don't just mean down to the shops type far, I mean to the edge of the universe type far) more likely that the manufacturers of all the cars involved had in fact provided an emergency override specifically for scenarios such as this. However, given that some drivers are barely able to find the fuel filler cap (or the switch to turn off their fog lights), I have no difficulty in believing that a whole bunch of them were flummoxed by an unlocking procedure more complicated than pressing a button.

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US demands air passengers ask its permission to fly

Chris

Re: Heathrow?

Not in transit, but I did fly out from Heathrow T1 a couple of months ago for the first time since all the new security crap got put in place, and I can honestly say that getting airside was easier than I've ever known it to be - about the only notable differences were the requirement to take off my shoes, and the slightly anal rules about putting absolutely everything into separate trays for scanning (one tray for the laptop, one tray for the jacket, one tray for the backpack...), and it was far from the tedious process I was expecting it to be based on all the complaints from other travellers I'd read beforehand.

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Windows XP repair disk kills automatic updates

Chris

@Kevin Gurney

To further use the roofing analogy, if when you paid your (obviously crap :-) roofers you'd told them in no uncertain terms that, should they notice any problems with their work, you wanted them to tell you about it but NOT start any repairs without your go-ahead, but you then woke up in the middle of the night to find them hammering away on your roof without bothering to uphold their side of the agreement, then wouldn't you perhaps be a bit pissed off?

It's like when I take the car to be serviced, I *always* tick the box that says the garage MUST contact me before fixing anything not already covered by the servicing charge. If, having ticked that box and not had any phone calls from them except to say the car was ready, I then showed up at the garage to find they'd gone ahead and done an extra grands-worth of work and were expecting me to pay for it all before giving me back the keys, I'd be bloody furious. So why is it somehow OK for MS to take your permission to be INFORMED about an available update, and turn that into permission for it to be INSTALLED without your say so? Quite simply, it isn't.

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ISPs turn blind eye to million-machine malware monster

Chris

Story is over...

"The reality is if you want to run windows you have to pay for Virus checkers Pay for firewalls (unless you want cheap ones that dont work or pop up YOUR TRIAL has ended lol) , anti-spyware and much more to slow your nice new pc right down to dogs speed so you have privilage of using windows."

The only paid-for security software I use is on the PC I use at work, where I have no say in the matter. On any box I have control over, free tools (combined with basic user security awareness) have been more than sufficient to keep them malware-free for more years than I can recall. And since each of the free tools does exactly what it needs to and no more, rather than trying to be an all encompassing one-stop security system wrapped up in a cosy front-end like the home user versions of the commercial stuff, their resource requirements are practically nil.

"And once you have all this you then have to run daily scans and clear out all the new trojans, I used to spend 30 mins + a night doing this hence why i gave up with it"

What were you doing wrong? If I have to spend 30 minutes a *month* cleaning the 4 XP boxes at home, I consider it unusual. Malware removal is made so much easier if you don't allow it to infect your systems in the first place...

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US airforce in $500m push for better jet turbines

Chris

Re: F-22 performance

The F-22 isn't alone in being able to supercruise using existing technology, nor is it a particularly recent thing - Concorde managed it 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, on the subject of this new engine, I wonder if the design teams will be using ADVENT calendars to keep track of their schedules...

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