42 posts • joined Wednesday 22nd August 2007 06:55 GMT
Add Amazon to the wall of shame
Amazon UK asked me for a scan of my passport last year when I had the temerity to buy, yes BUY, a Kindle book from the UK store, and have it delivered wirelessly in Ireland. This obviously caused an alarm and flashing red light to go off in the Amazon bunker warning that somebody might be trying to buy something via the UK (EU) rather than the US (err... not EU), where Amazon decided (in SOME fairness to them as a result of territorial rights bollox) that somebody who might not be living in the UK had to buy their books. I gave them a short and not very polite suggestion as to where they could stick their demand, and haven't heard from them since.
Speaking as an author with a book available on Kindle, frankly I don't give a flying f**k if somebody lives on the moon if they want to buy a copy of my book.
I'd favour the Nexus 7
I'm going to echo what seems to be the consensus in the replies so far.
The Playbook is a really nice piece of kit, solid construction, nice velvety finish on the back so that it never feels like it's going to slip out of your hand, very nice screen, good sound, and the UI is very nice to use.
That's the plus side. App support is somewhat wanting. My main bugbears are no Skype (and it looks like no possibility of it coming), a lack of anything to connect to a media server (I point it at a web server I've installed on my NAS), and an inability to play video with anything other than AAC audio.
I can't say about the iPlayer, 4oD etc as I've never tried.
Android apps can be sideloaded as has been pointed out, but there are some restrictions on what will work (camera access is out for one thing). Another problem I've found is that the sideloaded Greader app I use to read blog posts is a bit unstable and when it goes down, the only way to recover involves rebooting the tablet, which is a lengthy process.
There are a few other little niggly issues as well, but you'll get that with any device.
Now, having said all that, I got mine for free via a RIM developer program last year, so I can't complain about being hard done by, Despite what looks like a list of woes, I like it a lot as a simple convenient net access device (I used it almost exclusively while in France for 3 weeks last year). If I had to part with my cash however, I'd go the Nexus route, and I don't think I'd recommend it for your mum with regard to the issues above.
Re: Le Reg foreign desk,
"It's nice to see the French commit a faux pas!"
I didn't know the French had a word for that
3/4 baked tablet
I've had a 16GB Playbook for a few months now that I picked up as part of the developer offer for porting an Android app.
In ways it's a really nice piece of kit. Bright clear display, UI beats IOS hands down IMHO (that should attract a few flames, but hey, as I said, it's my opinion :-) ). The native email app *does* support gmail accounts, and works fine, as does the calendar app (though the latter appears to only support a single calendar which is a pain). OS 2 from what I read seems to be a big step forward from OS 1.
My gripes with it are mostly software related. No Skype app - yes I know this technically is in the remit of Skype/MS, but I'm sure RIM could egg the pudding here if they wanted it (sorry, only being able to talk to other RIM device users doesn't cut it for me). My other main bugbear is the lack of a DLNA or at least a UPnP media client - the media player will only play local content. Other problems are that there's no native file browser, nor is there anything that'll access a share on a NAS (other than by the web browser). Wi-fi can be a bit flakey as well with random disconnects.
So overall, the PB is quite a nice piece of kit let down by software support, at least some of which should be there out of the box.
Once upon a time I'd have thought it'd be a distinctly chilly day in hell that I'd be recommending something from Microsoft, but the MS Arc mouse is a really nice bit of design, and works well. It folds down into a fairly teeny package to put in a laptop bag, and when unfolded (also powers it up) is really comfortable to use. It's symetric too, so should at least be a bit leftie friendly (don't quote me on that though).
They do have an IMDBPro site as well.
Also the Denon DM38 is an excellent unit available for around the £200 mark (excluding speakers). Solid build, good sound, and the USB when used with an iPod/iWhatever will use the DACs in the Denon rather than those on the player.
I nearly plumped for this when looking for a system a few months ago, but while trying to source one locally, but in the end up got an offer I couldn't refuse on an Arcam amp (HiFi nerd in me came out), and decided it was time to go the NAS/FLAC + digital radio streaming route with a Squeezebox
From what I can see, having done a fair amount of research on these a few months ago, I'd say your only option is a separate phono stage. The Arcam Mini doesn't even seem to have a phono option (unlike the FMJ or older Alpha/Delta amps).
..if you want to write C#, oh, and pay (I know there's a free version, but you're not supposed to develop anything commercial on it, and it's hobbled in quite a few areas so not that suitable for developing much beyond Windows console and forms apps.
Eclipse is a dog, there's no two ways about it. As an IDE I prefer Netbeans (or at least did when I last used it in the dying days of Sun). Unfortunately world+dog (Spring etc.) all seem to have Eclipse based dev environments
Still memory hungry as ever
FF 7 is still routinely chewing up well over half a gig of memory on my work PC, with not a huge amount of stuff open (in number mainly tabs of El Reg stories).
The only real reason I'm sticking with it is Adblock which every time I see a non-adblocked site I realise I can't live without. At this stage though I'm tempted to try Chrome with their version
Seems incredible, but that is a bit steep
I just bought a new kit last week with 16GB (4x4GB) for about €75. I have to pinch myself sometimes to put those two figures together!
Just for laughs, I went along to the Dell website to try to spec up a similar machine. To go from the base 4GB to 16GB they wanted €470! I think they were also looking for about €200 to upgrade to a fairly bog standard 2TB hard drive. I stopped at this point
Big man, small plane, long bus ride
For anybody who's never used the Cityjet CdG-Dublin service, the planes more often than not get parked out on the outer apron of the airport (feels like somewhere near Calais sometimes) necessitating a lengthy bus ride to get to them.
Gerard is a big man, in his 60s, and CityJet planes are tiny, so in fairness to him, trying to get to the loo past people trying to shove stuff into the miniscule overhead bins wouldn't be the easiest operation in the world (tip to anybody ever using this service, don't go along with a standard carry-on size luggage and put anything whatsoever valuable in it - it'll end up in the hold and they nobody tells you this til you're at the steps).
Blast from the past
I'd entirely forgotten about Transputers. We got our hands on an Atari ABAQ in the first company I worked in, must have been '88 I guess. I remember the demos on the machine were awesome in terms of speed for the time. It wasn't to last however, as the machine was shipped off to the company's German office after a few weeks, and never arrived :-(
Have one and really like it
Yes, it's outrageously overpriced, but it does the job really well.
A few commentors complain about the weight - it brings the whole lot up to the weight of an average sized paperback, and I prefer a wee bit of heft.
The light does a great job of illuminating the screen, and I generally use it as my sole source of illumination when reading at night - whether it be in bed, or in the sitting room with the lights turned down.
I probably use it on average about an hour per night, and I'll usually get 3-4 weeks on a full charge.
So not for everyone, but if you have the cash and want a neat solution, it's hard to beat
Re: Target market
Agreed. The big attraction of the GF1 when it appeared was that it had a fair degree of manual control - not ideal, and felt a bit retarded coming from a Canon DSLR, but good enough once you get used to it. The main thing is that it's pocketable, especially with the lovely Panny 20mm lens, and easy to have always on hand.
Unfortunately the trend with the GF2 and now the GF3 seems to be increasingly to dumb them down. No thumb wheel for exposure adjustment, no mode dial, no exposure lock button, and unlike its two predecessors, it would appear no ability to add on the (ridiculously expensive) Panasonic EVF.
I'd been hoping Panasonic were going to develop this range to have an appeal to the serious photographer, but I'll have to hope that this is in their future game plan, or I'm going to be a bit hosed when upgrade time comes a few years down the road, or sooner if one of the kids bounces it off the floor!
I don't find that to be the case. I use a GF1 with the 20mm f1.7 lense, and even at that focal length can get decent bokeh at wide enough apertures. The slightly longer, not to mention brighter, Leica lens should fit the bill even better, and I'd imagine is a lovely bit of glass.
Admittedly, the range is (natively) a bit lacking yet in a prime in the short telephoto length (e.g. 40mm) which would hit the sweet spot for portraits
I've had an 1810tz for about 18 months at this stage and like it a lot. Build quality is good - it feels solid. It's got the portability of a netbook but a lot more grunt, and is easily capable of running Photoshop, Lightroom, and OpenOffice side by side without breaking into too much of a sweat.
My only bugbear would be the trackpad, which is frankly awful, but I prefer to use a cordless mouse anyway
"YOU DO NOT PAY FOR THE PAPER WHEN YOU BUY A BOOK!!!!!!!!!!! I hate the "oh it's electronic so it should be free/5p instead of £14" school of thought. When you buy a book/film/song you are paying for the artistic input and the temporal nature of it, not the freaking trees/plastic that went into making a copy of it."
Oh yes you do. Do you really think the paper mill donates the paper stock for free because it's "art"? Or for that matter do you imagine the man in the truck that delivers it does it for egalitarian motives. Then add the printer, the local branch of Waterstones that has to make space available, pay high street rent, leccy, etc., and allowing for the possibility of ending up with a turkey on your hands that has to be remaindered and eventually pulped.
All these and more are material costs of producing a (physical) book. All have to be paid for, and all make up part of the price paid by the consumer. If you factor in the fact that the author has already written the text anyway, the production costs for an ebook amount to somebody laying it out and publishing it in the appropriate DRM ridden format. A similar process will happen for a print edition, but probably at a higher cost as, for instance, physical proofs have to be produced along the way.
I don't know whether authors will receive substantially more royalties from ebooks - my guess is they won't. And before I get labelled "freetard", I'm not exactly a disinterested spectator as I'll be delivering a book for publication within the next month if all goes to plan.
The great red herring
Transport costs are the great red herring. We get this guff trotted out constantly in Ireland as being the reason we're even more ripped off in general than the UK. It is of course sooo much cheaper to ship the same goods to Belfast.
Quite: "3. Are the good users and staff of Ingram being rewarded as well as the Irish? The Irish government and people lived by the principles of fiscal prudence and saving for the rainy day (much like the Japanese, the Germans and the Swiss) and now have a good infrastructure in place to handle metaphorical and real bad weather."
Did I miss something? The only way the members of the Irish government have been "fiscally prudent" is with regard to themselves. I.e. making sure that they personally have become pretty much the best paid politicians in the western world, with superb pension entitlements, and making sure they get their retirement in en-masse *before* the upcoming general election whereby should they by some miracle get re-elected, they'd see those pension entitlements slashed come 2012.
Paris because she couldn't make more of an arse of running the country than this shower
Contempt towards public servants
I'm full of contempt for Sarko, but then so is every French person I know. Does this mean I'm going to get locked up next time I'm through Charles de Gaulle?
You say for "most people, the idea of using Photoshop or other Adobe applications is absurd and excessively expensive". While I'd agree with the "excessively expensive" bit, I don't really see why it'd be absurd.
Now back to the point. Since the article is talking about raw processing, it isn't really directed at "most people", rather it's aimed at people who are serious enought about their photography that they're willing to add the additional step of having to process the images from raw. For anything other than the most minor of adjustments, 8 bit colour depth falls flat on its face. DSLRs have a depth of at least 12 bits in general, so you're chucking away over 90% of the tonal information available to you by editing in an 8 bit application (12 bits/channel=4096 levels, 8 bits=256). GEGL will eventually solve these problems, but it's been in gestation for almost a decade.
Gimp also has other limitations compared to even PS Elements (which mostly operates in 16 bit mode now). No adjustment layers for one.
Like another poster I DO actually use GIMP, and it is quite capable, but I typically only use it for stuff bound for the web, but as a serious photography tool - sorry.
Piece of cr@p
Download manager completely failed to update Reader on at least 3 separate systems giving a completely unhelpful error non-message each time. After much searching, it appears to be due to some files in the Reader installation directory that were locked by Windows indexing service, but do you think Adobe would tell you that?
I've now disabled all Adobe update checks and manually update their bloatware by downloading the not very easy to find standalone installer.
Photographer or IT specialist?
"Every single one that had a PC was far less professional, they pretty much just "took and cropped photos" instead of "managing and editing" photos."
If I were hiring a photographer, I'd judge them on what the final photos were like rather than their workflow. Maybe those that "took and cropped" got it right in camera rather than spent hours trying to rescue each image in software later
I think we (Ireland) should join now Schengen, as we should have from the start, then let HMG take the responsibiliy of sticking passport controls on every piddling boreen between us and N. Ireland to see what their level of enthusiasm is.
Wouldn't hold your breath waiting for price falls
The VAT rate was dropped by 1% here in Ireland a few years ago in some sort of half arsed misguided attempt to control inflation which had been allowed to go out of control after the Euro was introduced with no control on how the "exchange rate" was applied (hey, we were rich back then - we didn't care). Prices in shops changed not one jot. They did of course move upwards a year later when the same dumb government, went "ah well, that didn't work, sure we'll just restore the VAT rate to what it was" to the usual bleating of "cost of doing business, yadda, yadda, yadda" by the retail lobbyists
I just hope your consumer legislation is a bit more robust than ours - wouldn't be hard :(
@The Mighty Sprang
"though i reckon David Thewlis would be bloody brilliant at it. and he can act"
Hmmmm David Thewlis doing Doctor Who in the guise of his Johnny character from Mike Leigh's "Naked", now there'd be something!
While Ireland soldiers on
You lot think the Tony and Gordon show has been a joke?
Our shower over here wasted €50m in buying these self same voting machines which were used in a limited trial in a 2002 election. Nobody trusted them, and there were serious questions about their security. The response? Buy/lease a bunch of warehouses around the country (one has a 25 year lease, the life span of the machine is 10 or 15 years max) at a cost to the taxpayer of around €300k per year.
And since, unlike the UK, the page with the word "resign" has mysteriously been ripped from the Irish parliamentary dictionary, the clowns responsible for this carry on in their highly paid jobs.
Have to agree on Netbeans
I've used both off and on over the past number of years, and until recently I'd have had a preference for Eclipse in terms of performance, flexibility etc. In version 6.0 however, Netbeans have produced a far better, more complete, IDE.
"Lightroom (hardly bloatware, it's actually pretty efficient) uses SQLite for its database"
It's probably a bit of exaggeration to describe it as "efficient". It needed a beast of a machine spec to run at all when it was in beta stage, though it's probably been streamlined a bit since - I now have a decent machine to run it on anyway, as I had to upgrade to run it. I find the Lightroom DB searches very sluggish, though this is probably not SQLites fault.
As a comparison, I previously used RawShooter from Pixmantec which Adobe swallowed and killed (hence my need to move to Lightroom). At the core, this did pretty much the same thing as Lightroom (metadata based image alterations applied on the fly), but did it faster and this on my ageing W2k desktop with 384Mb RAM (ok, ok, so I did need to upgrade anyway!)
I'm not knocking Lightroom, I use it a lot, and am very happy with what it does for the most part, but I do think it's resource heavy in the same way as pretty much the rest of the Adobe stable.
Interesting piece, but....
"Even if one does form, competent and hundreds strong like PIRA, it will tend to be riddled with informers and in the end old Blighty will grind it down."
While it would appear the IRA was full of informers, the only reason they stopped doing what they were doing was that BOTH sides developed a dose of common sense, and had some pragmatic individuals that could see that the bombs could keep going off, and the security services keep digging their heels in, ad-infinitum, and that sitting down and talking was the only viable way forward. Spain/ETA will realise this eventually.
There's also the fear factor of what will happen to you as an informer when your erstwhile compadres find out. The republican movement was particularly trigger happy in this regard, even as recently as 2006 when Denis Donaldson was outed and murdered in no short order. I've no reason to think that the jihadis would behave any differently in this regard, and that even if the entire cell were bagged, other like minded loonies would feel it their duty to avenge the betrayal
And the winner is....
Ryanair. Given that newspapers are not widely read in France (by comparison to the UK/Ireland at any rate), the ad probably wouldn't have been seen by that many people. Go to court and all of a sudden it's splashed all over the 8 o'clock news, and captain Mick O'Leary smiles all the way to the bank with the cheap publicity. Bravo Sarko!
Hmmm.... name rings a bell. Is he the weird little guy that used to go out with Sheena Easton years ago?
There's always some one
While I'd agree that there is a degree of bloat in Java, and that there's a whole swath of APIs I've never personally used, if any particular API is removed, it'll always impact someone.
AWT being an example. We recently had a project which involved embedding ActiveX controls in a Swing app (don't ask). As Swing popup menus are lightweight, the AX controls trampled all over them. Our solution was to use the heavyweight AWT popup menus.
So by all means remove AWT or others from the core API, but they must remain available as plugins to ensure legacy code continues to work, preferably transparently (eg some sort of Maven like dependency downloads)
Adobe's feeble grasp of exchange rates
And god knows, Adobe like to charge. You'd think somewhere in all that overpriced swarm of software they'd have some bit of code that could multiply a dollar price by an exchange rate and come up with something reasonably resembling a Sterling/Euro price (and woe betide the wallet of anybody that might dare to speak a different language)