* Posts by Grant

18 posts • joined 5 Nov 2007

Windows 7 borrows from OS X, avoids Vista

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Comes in damn handy running a mac-mini hooked up to a big TV screen.

Home Office guides plods on photography


information of use to a terrorist = broad brush

I quite often have my camera in my bag and take photos of various buildings, train stations, traffic, people etc. As it is impossible to avoid CCTV cameras sometimes I have a few photos of them too. I even went out and deliberately photographed nothing but CCTV cameras one day, figuring that they were almost a UK icon now! Clearly I will have pictures which could be of use to a terrorist and quite porobably pictures of restricted places too (well, how am I going to know which ones they are?).

I've never had police tell me I couldn't, or even seem bothered that they were in the shot. I have had members of the public* scream at me that I shouldn't be taking a photo of their child (while taking a picture of the roof in the British Museum), been threatened by a market trader while taking street shots and told by shop staff that I couldn't photograph a shop window display as "I might be an industrial spy". The irony of a woman reading a "celebrity" magazine (in public) telling me she had a right to privacy and I couldn't take any photo with her in it wasn't lost on one of us at least.

Maybe the next time I write a reminder in my diary while at the station I run the risk of being mistaken for a terrorist taking down vital timetable data.

*or more precisely, paranoid idiots

Ten of the Best... iPod rivals

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Sony Walkman

Love mine (A829), bluetooth = no more catching the headphone cord on things and it works great with my phone connected at the same time - pause for call then music back on. Synchs great with MediaMonkey, WMP or just drag and drop.

As for iTunes - having recently set up an iPod shuffle on iTunes/Vista it's easy to see what their priorities are - walking you through signing up to the iTunes shop and taking credit card details!

That 'Elderly Persons' sign: Can you do better?

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Reminds me of a sign I saw in Scotland, near Urqhuart Castle - a horse pulling a trailer with a stick figure in a wheelchair drawn above the trailer. Lucky there wasn't any other traffic at the time.

Ten of the Best... Bluetooth Stereo Headphones


aerial location

Location of the aerial makes a big difference, I just got some Sony DR-BT22s for £40. The aerial is on the right hand side - with the player in my left front trouser pocket it occasionally drops out when I am walking (esp if I turn my head to the right) unless I select "connection priority" quality), I assume the body is effective at blocking the signal temporarily (all that water). With the player on the right I have no problems and I have had about 5-6 metres range through walls etc. They do feel a bit fragile due to the folding nature of them though.

Home Office to order fingerprinting of air passengers


Thin end of the wedge

Most flights I have taken with a transfer involve showing the passport and boarding card immediately prior to boarding the plane each time, even when there is a connecting flights section or a proper secure transit area with no domestic/international mingling. In fact Sydney has a secure transit area with a full x-ray/swabbing screening process in it! That takes long enough as it is, add fingerprinting and the time taken to check back to see if the person entered the area (and what passport/boarding card they used) and it will take forever to get on board. No doubt claims will be made that a biometric ID card would solve this, although you would still have to fingerprinted...

Which makes me wonder if this is linked to the fact that a lot of US airports don't have a transit area or int'l/domestic distinction and they are actively fingerprinting people already?

Sticky jam bun just before boarding?

Google's Street View spycar clocked in London


Eddie Edwards and Tim

Tim - public place, no right to privacy and anyone can take your photo. Despite all the efforts to the contrary that is still the law.

Eddie - Model release is only required for commercial use, in fact it isn't always required but very few places will take stock of identifiable people without a model release for legal protection.

TSA says 'checkpoint friendly' laptop bags on the way


bahavioural profiling monkey?

MONKEY: "At the tail end of a very long haul flight I went through to my connection yawning, feeling unwell, white in the face and exhausted. I was taken aside and had my hand luggage ripped apart and inspected taking everything to pieces. When I asked why I was told "because you behaved in a way that raised my suspicions". I asked what that was and it was the fact that I was yawning and appeared to me non-communicative..."

I (and my laptop) got swabbed for explosives as I was in the transit area *after* a 16 hour flight (which was a transfer from another flight - so I had already been screened twice) - I asked the guy why and apparently it was because I was "looking bored and listless and uninterested in what was around me". I didn't realise this was unusual after a long haul in cattle class.

Actually I think it was because he was bored and listless and just wanted to do something. At least he was friendly (it was in Sydney).

US bars ID refuseniks from planes - but not ID losers


Already avoid the US

Which is a shame, cos I have had some great times there. But after the last time, when I got grilled by the surliest officer ever (and this was just before fingerprinting was introduced) I decided that I would go only if I had too (avoiding any flights which transited too).

Which all went swimmingly until recently - when I got to Sydney where I was swabbed for explosives and questioned - considering I had already been on a plane for 20+ hours at that point and was transiting it seemed a bit late.

Now I look at the trains first - thank god for the Eurostar.

NZ hydropower drought could see leccy rationing


demand rises to fill capacity

Every few years the hydro lakes drop and this scenario plays out, usually with little ill effect as people suddenly become more energy efficient and the demand stays largely below capacity. Unfortunately after that "crisis" is avoided they go back to being the same wastrels they were before - driven by electricity company encouragement!

The point of renewables is that they are renewable, not that they purport to be able to supply all the energy one could want. Presumably when the UK runs low on coal and gas they will have something else to generate the 75% of electricity that these sources currently do, as well as take up the increased demand as people convert from gas heating etc. And that changes in the climate won't render any immoveable renewable energy sources untenable in the meantime.

Bring on the fusion!

Sony Bluetooth Walkman NWZ-A826K

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Now cheaper

16GB Version now £209 on either Amazon or Sony Style (I called and got a discount!). The 8GB version comes bundled with the bluetooth headphones, the 16GB one doesn't.

I ordered one sight unseen, which is rare indeed for me and I hope not a mistake! I did look at the iTouch etc - if it had an external volume control (the iPhone does so why not?) I may well have gone the Apple/iTunes route (despite reservations about iTunes).

I have had good experiences from Sony hardware (my old MiniDisc survived a battering and sounded great) now that Sonic Stage is gone can only see it being better from a usability front.

I would use my phone, but the supplied headphones are complete rubbish and it has a mini headphone socket, so I would need an adapter, plus at the end of the day if my MP3 player has a flat battery at least my phone will still work.

All I need to do now is wait for the damn thing, the first lot were presold before arrival...

Armed police swoop on MP3-packing mechanic

Black Helicopters

Dodgy looks

Apparently you can get your DNA removed from the database - in "exceptional circumstances".

And i'm now wondering how many near misses I may have had as I reach into my inside jacket pocket* to adjust the volume on my music player, every day, on public transport... or get my black, square phone out...

Obviously the only answer is to require all guns to be painted fluorescent orange to avoid these sorts of mistakes.

* possibly looking just like a person going for their gun to those with a febrile imagination or of a paranoid persuasion.

Tiscali bandwidth throttling flub fix flops


@ Michael

I have steered clear of the "free router and sign up for 12-18 month" deals, currently with a smaller outfit on a months notice (after the first three months) and was happy to buy my own router. At least I know what I am getting - not like the first free wireless router my neighbours got which didn't work (cos there was no wireless in it), the replacement (which was wireless) which broke after 2 months and the second replacement which barely lasted the contract term.

Every supplier should off a tariff for those who supply their own equipment - chances are those people will save them money in support costs because they know how to troubleshoot anyway. Of course the companies probably make quite a bit off their support lines...

Is it or isn't it? Brown keeps bottling the ID card question


For foreigners?

Funny, cos I am sure originally they <i>weren't</i> going to make ID cards available to foreigners*, presumably on the grounds that no ID card = not British = no NHS etc. So they would be de-facto compulsory.

Now they state that they will be <i>starting</i> with foreigners, who probably won't be able to use the biometric information to prove that the card is actually theirs anyway (few readers) so the ID card will indeed be no better than a passport and probably worse initially.

I thought entering the US was bad enough (like Nev - "Whats this bit?", "Thats the electronic part of the passport", "Why is that there?", "Cos the US require it now", "To do what? [now suspicious of foreigner with funny passport]"), what's it going to be like doing something in the UK? ("ID card? - oh, we can't read this, picture ID and two forms of address verification please to prove it's your card...")

As a dual national I am not sure whether I am required to have one or required not to have one...

*foreigners who were just visiting obviously, cos a legally working foreigner pays taxes etc covering the NHS and would need one. Oh, and an asylum seeker would need one too. Europeans could use their existing one for reciprocal health stuff, unless they didn't have ID cards...

Daring Register raid snatches key government URL


They didn't want it anyway

The one referenced in the linked document (now dated 07 December) is as below.

"It is also available on the internet at www.ukictmarketingstrategy.co.uk This will also let you know how to participate in the consultation. "

Public says no to ID cards, No2ID says 'starve the beast!'



There were lifetime drivers licenses in NZ as well - until the Government rendered them invalid in favour of 10 year ones (with the argument that a plastic CC size was easier and more durable than the monster paper versions and made a handy ID card). Mind you, you had the option not to have your address on it, which made it much easier when shifting house.

Interestingly, when I got a UK licence in 2006 it had a 10 year lifespan. And I have just been informed I am supposed to carry the bit of paper as well, which makes me wonder what the point of the plastic card is in that case.

Plastic police to enforce London bag ban?



["It's alright, the ban is on one-use throwaway bags. If you're using a plastic bag to carry your gym kit ( or anything else other than carrying your shopping home in the first place ) it's on it's second use at least and is thus an exemplary case of recycling in action."]

But you wouldn't be able to carry your shopping home in the original bag in the first place...

A 5p levy would be easier surely, then you could still buy a bag if you haven't got your own - as at Lidl etc. Hardly see anyone using a plastic bag there.

Congestion charge dodgers register Bentleys as minicabs


Loophole fun

Good luck to them - TfL doesn't check that a minicab is actually being used as such? That's their own fault. Even if you were in a low charge car - £100 for minicab application+ first years registration is about 13 trips into the zone - with no worries about having to remember to pay it. 2 trips a month and it's paid for itself handsomely even at £8 a time!

"I think asking to see the vehicle insurance might be a bit more fun, as mini-cab driving is excluded on most normal policies, but then again, it's probably cheaper than £25 a day, in fact £8 a day to insure yourself as a mini-cab."

This sounds like a check which could be easily implemented and wouldn't affect anyone who was actually running a legit minicab service. So of course it won't be a consideration, instead a complicated, expensive, difficult to comply with system will be introduced instead.

And the congestion charge was always designed to be "green" albeit on a large scale where less cars = less fumes.

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