* Posts by Leo Rampen

38 posts • joined 13 Apr 2007

Apple kills MacBook, soups up MacBook Air

Leo Rampen

Not interested in the back to school market then?

Every year, lots of people turn up at University with a Macbook. When they cost £700, it was a bit of a premium over other alternatives. Now they're £1000, I can see Apple losing a big proportion of that market. Why would anyone, faced an already huge chunk of debt, pay £1000 for a laptop when they can buy a nice windows alternative for £400+? I'm sure there'll still be lots of people buying macs simply because they're the kind of people that define themselves with them, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a significant drop in sales.

Does Apple not want that market anymore?

No Bing bang for Microsoft's Yahoo! marriage

Leo Rampen

"From a base of zero"

That's hardly correct. Bing replaced MSN search, which was (and still is) the default search for Internet Explorer. If they're actually increasing marketshare, then I give them credit, but it's not coming from zero.

I know that the only times I've ever used bing have been when I've had to use IE and the search box has defaulted to bing. The results are rarely as good as Google's (in my single man highly scientific poll).

Yorks cops charge Segway rider under 1835 road law

Leo Rampen


My basis for that calculation is from a very unscientific googling of "electric scooter mpg equivalent", which brought me to http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-9677054-1.html

They are obviously going to use energy. The main reason scooters are so much more fuel efficient at carrying a single person somewhere is because they weigh so much less. A Lithium Ion battery is 80-90% efficient. An electric motor is somewhere between 80 and 95% efficient (http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/electrical-motor-efficiency-d_655.html). A power station is around 40% efficient. That gives an electric scooter an efficiency of about 27.5% at converting coal into motion.

Compare that with an internal combustion engine efficiency of about 20%. An electric drivetrain will therefore be about 37.5% better at converting energy to motion, assuming the same power requirements. In practice an electric car has a greater advantage because it can use regenerative braking.

Scale that electric chassis down from a car to a scooter (with perhaps a 3kW motor), and you get considerable improvements. My calculations show that a 3kW scooter going flat out at 30mph would use 362kJ/mile, which would be the equivalent of about 400mpg (quite far off the claims I used last time).

Adjusting the calculations I made before for this new number, there isn't really any change in the overall emissions, because the scooter has emissions that are a factor of 10 smaller than those of the car.

Leo Rampen
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Legal Precedent

The UK has long needed a clear legal precedent for electric vehicles. It's the same issue with electric scooters and bicycles. Currently, it seems that mobility scooters/wheelchairs are ignored by the police (although probably technically illegal), likewise electrically assisted bicycles. The grey area that you'll get pulled over for is things like segways, electric scooters, electric skateboards etc.

These are very low emission vehicles, and assuming they're not simply being used to replace walking, they make a lot of sense for commutes up to 10 or 15 miles, where it's too far to cycle without turning up looking like you've just had a shower.

A quick google shows that 70% of people outside London commute by car, and that the average distance driven a day is (assuming 235 working days a year) about 13 miles. 6.5 miles is within the range of a small electric scooter, and even if only 10% of people were to use something like that (without the hassle of a scooter license), it would cut (back of the envelope calculations) 5.409*10^6 Tons of CO2 a year, which is about 1% of our total emissions. (calcs available on request)

Not a huge amount, but still quite significant. And scooters are fun!

Euro mobile data best buys

Leo Rampen

More Regulation

What the EU needs to do is regulate the cost per GB, not the maximum tariff. This gets rid of nasty surprises, but doesn't get rid of the root of the problem. They've done it with voice calls and texts, so why can't they do it with data?

The main problem is that the network in the country you're in sets the prices. The EU now dictates a maximum amount that a network can charge roaming phones for voice calls and texts. However, they don't dictate anything for data. There's absolutely no incentive for a network to reduce charges to roaming phones, because the people who get charged more aren't their customers. AFAIK, the UK networks make very little or no profit on data usage (or other usage) in the EU, simply because they have to pay the receiving network so much.

What we need is a logical cap on data charges. Obviously you should expect to pay slightly more while roaming, but it shouldn't be more than double what you pay at home. A lot of the networks in the EU are the same companies as the networks in the UK, so there's very little but profit stopping this happening.

Google's encrypted search casts shadow on web analytics

Leo Rampen

They do!

You think google don't know what link you clicked on? They almost certainly do. It's pretty trivial to track link clicks by javascript, and google analytics will do it for you. Google used to use redirects for link tracking, but they probably realised people like to be able to copy links from the google search page, and the vast majority of people have JS turned on. There's a few people who block analytics or use noscript, but they're insignificant compared to the majority of people who allow JS.

Google will not give up on knowing what link you clicked through to. That's a major part of their search algorithm improvement. They want as much data on you as possible.

Google halts deletion of Street View Wi-Fi data

Leo Rampen

No... but

No, but that's not really what google did. Google simply recorded the wifi radio waves as they drove by. This is more akin to you opening your curtains and turning on a very big TV, and then getting angry when I see what's on the TV as I drive by.

HTML5 unfit for web TV, says Hulu

Leo Rampen

Security through obscurity

It's worth noting that Flash's only "DRM" available is an encrypted video stream. Someone made a program to rip video from flash player, and adobe sued them. Flash video has no inherant DRM or real security beyond HTTPS and lawsuits.

Vote Lib Dem, doom humanity to extinction

Leo Rampen
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Considerable flaws

There's a lot of reasons this article is flawed, not all of which I can address. I can however address a fair few of them.

Firstly: Professor McKays book, while an incredibly interesting read and definitely recommended, simply adds up the cost of our current lifestyle and then looks for power to keep it going. The book doesn't address many energy saving measures, and so the claims that the UK would need to be packed to the rafters with wind turbines are somewhat redundant.

Secondly: Nuclear power is prohibitively expensive. We don't realise this now, because the last power stations were built over 40 years ago. Nuclear power has benefited from huge government subsidies, in the form of various nuclear related agencies, limits to public liability insurance, and because of the by products it can produce. Without such subsidies, the economic viability of it is questionable. Nuclear power is inherently linked into the government, and so benefits from a lot of public agencies. If new power stations were solely public affairs, and these costs were taken into account in the cost of electricity, then this wouldn't be so bad, but the fact that new nuclear power stations would likely be private companies means that the government is essentially giving them a free ride.

The article discusses some pretty fanciful things, like space flight, destroying asteroids and technology development. There are a number of problems with your arguments here as well.

If there is an asteroid threatening the earth, the UK is unlikely to be the one called on to provide a nuclear strike. Given that we have no space program whatsoever (due to labour and conservative governments), it is highly unlikely we would have any real input on the matter, trident or not. Trident isn't capable of destroying asteroids anyway, so the point is pretty much moot.

Without a space program, the UK is unlikely to explore other planets. This is pretty much unrelated to civil nuclear power. The nuclear power used by spaceships is very much unlike that used for civil power, and the two have very little bearing on each other. If the UK chose to not use nuclear power, it would have no effect on the development of small scale nuclear reactors for space ships.

Finally, suggesting that voting for the lib dems tomorrow will result in the entirety of humanity becoming extinct is pushing it a bit even for the register. Voting Lib Dem will *not* cause humanity to die out due to asteroids, and is likely to have no affect on any space programmes anywhere in the world (given that we don't have one anyway). It will, however, bring the electoral reform this country needs. It will reduce the number of stupid databases the government holds. It will ensure that the poor are protected from poverty, it will bring a fairer tax system, and it will bring the governmental shakeup that this country needs.

This article is mostly crap, with a smidgeon of idiocy mixed in. I understand that (for some reason) the register has a right wing political agenda (has anyone ever got to the bottom of why an IT news site catering to educated professionals is so right wing/climate change denying?), but that doesn't really mean you should push utter tripe onto your readership.


A quarter of Brits packing multiple mobiles

Leo Rampen

@Ellis: Contract no cheaper if you buy the phone

That is simply wrong.

A Sim -only contract from any of the big networks will average about £10 - £15 less than a similarly featured "free" phone contract. There's no commitment on a sim only contract. An 18 month, £35/month contract will give you the same minutes as a £20/month sim only contract.

That means you're spending £15 a month on your phone... and you have to spend that for at least 18 months.

The networks don't give you anything for free. If you get an expensive "free" phone, you'll almost certainly pay for it in the difference between your contract and a sim-only one.

Robo autopilot 'digital parachute' lands light plane hands-off

Leo Rampen
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This certainly is an achievement. Small aircraft are actually quite efficient (I've heard of Cessna 182's getting the equivalent of 15mpg, even with their 50 year old engine tech and poor aerodynamics), and with a cruising speed of approximately twice that of motorways, light aircraft operating safely out of small airports, high speed point to point transport is a real possibility. The big problem with trains is getting from remote areas to other remote areas - Edinburgh to London is very fast on a train (as fast as a light aircraft would be anyway), but going to any of the outlying areas (Shetland, the Hebrides, Pembrokeshire, Cornwall) is considerably slower. Being able to travel to your nearest light aviation airport (most cities have one), climb into an aircraft that will take you to your destination with minimal input, and arrive after less than an hour for each 100 miles travelled, regardless of terrain or infrastructure, is a very appealing prospect.

It will take a while for this to truly be a safe system. There's a need for a computerised aircraft to have sophisticated traffic avoidance systems in order to minimise the chance of a collision, and certification of any kind of complete automatically piloted aircraft is probably 20 years (at least) off, but there's a lot of potential.

Mozilla tries to shunt Firefox 3.0 users over to 3.5

Leo Rampen

3.5 big let down

Middle clicking on links suddenly stopped opening them in new tabs. I think it's a problem with my configuration, but combined with sudden crashes and some pages infinitely loading for no reason, I have switched to chrome. I didn't want to do it - I still love a lot of firefox more than chrome, but there's just so much stuff that's unusable right now.

Hopefully 3.6 will be better.

This reminds me of the Windows "You must restart your computer" box, that keeps popping up and doesn't let you dismiss it for more than 4 hours.

US State Dept. workers beg Clinton for Firefox

Leo Rampen

MoD no better

I work for the MoD and we're running XP machines with IE6. That level of crapness gets in the way of your work to quite a large degree. IE7 (and now 8) have been around for a while, and while FF may be hard to install easily, IE7 and 8 will have been designed by MS to be as easy to deploy as IE6.

Facebook rattling tin in Dubai?

Leo Rampen

do they make money?

I can see the potential value in their database of information on people (although that probably isn't really allowed to be utilised by third parties too much), but do facebook actually have much of an income? Advertising must pull in the majority of their income, but I imagine that the amount of bandwidth they burn through means that advertising alone probably doesn't fund them - hence the large cash infusions from microsoft, dubai etx. Do these companies see themselves getting much of a return from these investments? I personally would have thought that throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at facebook would only result in almost-worthless shares in a company with no real income stream.

I guess they could start offering "facebook premium" for users who want to upload more than x photos/make x wall posts etc. Given the propensity of young people to spend lots of money on phone contracts, you would think a £2/month charge would get a lot of takers.

Bloke crams 13 into Volvo S70

Leo Rampen
Black Helicopters

Legal limit?

What's the legal situation here? I know that it's not necessarily illegal to have more passengers than seatbelts, but do they all have to have seats (or at least be sitting down) or can someone be sitting in the boot?

British Columbia stray foot tally hits six

Leo Rampen
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@Sir Runcible Spoon

I read an article on this topic a few months ago which said that as part of the decomposition process, limbs, feet etc often fall off. It seems that these feet are just naturally detaching from their owners bodies as they decompose. It's surprising there hasn't been any other limbs though.

Pants purveyor punts handset-holding undies

Leo Rampen

Harry Potter Vibrating Broomstick

This reminds me of another not-intended use of the vibrate function.


Tory proposes street-legal Segway legalisation

Leo Rampen

Good News

Currently segways and other vehicles (like electric scooters) are illegal either because you can't get them certified to run on the road, or because to run them you need a license, tax, an MOT and insurance. If UK Gov really want people to take personal responsibility for CO2 reductions, surely legalising small electric scooters, electric bicycles, segways, electric skateboards etc would allow people who would otherwise drive to use far more economical methods of travel. Current UK law (perhaps rightly so) makes owning a car quite a chore, however it should be amended to make small personal transportation legal without licenses.

UK Carriers safe: Other war-tech ripe for the chopper

Leo Rampen

UK Carriers are far more advanced than nimitz

Just look at the crew needed. The UK carriers have considerably more advanced technology than the Nimitz class. More comparable would be the Ford class. These cost $5billion R&D, and estimated $8billion construction costs (although later ships will cost less as that price includes some shipyard building). Conversely, the UK carriers have a cost of £3.9billion combined, or less than £2billion a ship.

The Nimitz has a crew of over 3,500. The QE class has a crew of about 600. The UK ship is 3/4 of the tonnage (although almost the same length) yet has 17% of the crew. It costs quite a lot of money to keep the kind of crew needed for a nimitz on staff and able to sail with the carrier.

BT hits 'undo' on anti-spam email update

Leo Rampen

Google apps...

My dad suddenly found his email not working. I had a look on the BT web interface, but it really wasn't clear what was happening.

In the end, I just changed his outgoing SMTP server to the google apps one we use for the family domain. Problem solved, and now if we ever move ISP's there'll be one less issue to worry about.

Apple's Time Capsule: is its HDD really 'server grade'?

Leo Rampen

Single drive backup can work

For home use, a single drive backup can work. Assuming users only use it as a backup drive (ie there is no original data on the disk) then all it can do is be good. If your main machines hard drive fails, you have a backup. If your backup drive fails, you still have your main machine.

It isn't redundant and it isn't perfect. For the average user, the time between a failed drive and a replacement (and having a backup again) will probably be weeks or months, rather than the hours that you'd get in a server system (which would no doubt have more than 2 disks for backup and live purposes.

Ideally, you'd be running a RAID 1 system on your mac, have a backup solution with some form of redundant RAID and also have a nightly offsite backup, but for home use, is that likely? Surely having some sort of backup (even time machine) is better than having nothing at all.

The Phorm files

Leo Rampen

SSH Tunneling

With these developments, I know that I will personally be tunneling all my browsing over SSH from now on. Find yourself a server and do the same!

Google to build 80,000 foot radio tower?

Leo Rampen
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@Demon: They use hydrogen


according to the linked wall street journal article, hydrogen is used


It makes a specific point of mentioning why.

Restored Vulcan hits financial turbulence

Leo Rampen
Dead Vulture


Surely this is to be expected? The cost to keep these things running is often far more than the cost to simply get it in the air. I don't know to what extent air shows will actually pay them to turn up (considering ticket cost and turnout, I would imagine many airshows make millions easily), but simply getting the aircraft off the ground was only half the battle.

Good luck with the future, and I hope to see the vulcan flying near me soon.

'Tofu' license pits open source against meat

Leo Rampen
Dead Vulture

It's also GPL'd?

If you take a look at the google code project page (http://code.google.com/p/exttld/) it says on the front page that it's released under the GPL. IANAL, and I have no idea what the GPL's position on this is, but can you apply extra conditions to a piece of code (like they have done) and still claim that it is under the GPL? Obviously their copyright, their rules, but one would think that by licensing something under the GPL, you lose the right to dictate who can and can't use your software.

HP plunks 16GB SSD drive into slim business PCs

Leo Rampen
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High cost?

I have a Sandisk Sansa View 16GB that cost about £130, and is around $200 in the states.

How did sandisk manage to make an MP3 player with 16GB, a 2.4 inch LCD screen and all the hardware required to play back Mpeg4 and music for less than HP's 16GB SSD.

And more to the point, I saw an 8GB USB flash drive for sale on mymemory.co.uk today for £18 + P&P. Considering 2 of those would cost me £36, ($72), why is this so expensive. I would imagine even if you used extra-fast flash (I don't know a huge amount about the technology) it could still cost less than $330.

Manhunt, mods and maddened mothers

Leo Rampen
Paris Hilton

No outrage

Of course there'll be no outrage. The GTA mod had ****SEX**** involved - something that children should NEVER know about.

This mod just reveals a bit of gore. Children can have gore - it's hardly going to turn them into the paedophilic child-eating maniacs that a virtual BJ will.

Judge rules Gore's film an inconvenient catalogue of errors

Leo Rampen

Swindle? Ha

Perhaps if the "Great global warming swindle" is taken under the same scrutiny as Gore's film, and is found to contain only 5 factual errors, then we can watch that in schools. However, considering the scientific consensus for global warming, I doubt that the film would be allowed. Simply reading the wikipedia article on the film (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Global_Warming_Swindle) essentially debunks the film - and wikipedia is relatively unbiased!

ESA readies super-chilled space telescope

Leo Rampen

Space has no temperature

You could say space was at absolute zero - indeed an object sitting in the shade in space would be approaching that temperature. However, space is also very hot. Because there is no matter in space at all, the only way to vent heat is via radiation - on earth we can use air cooling to lose heat. An object in direct sunlight in space can reach hundreds of degrees very quickly.

There is two reasons that the telescope has to be at 0K. The first will be heat generation - digital sensors turned on for the long periods of time that these will be heat up, and heat means noise. By keeping them cooled near 0K, any heat generation can easily be taken away from the sensors and electronics.

The second issue is not dependant on the temperature that the optics etc are at - they could probably be at any temperature between 0K and 300K - but that, if left alone and unprotected, they would cycle between almost 0K and hundreds of K regularily. The heating and cooling would destroy any glass or electronics very, very quickly. By keeping everything at absolute zero, there is no heat cycle.

I don't know if I've covered all the reasons, and without a source and more information I may be wrong on some points, but there is certainly a lot of factors that have to be considered in space cooling that are just not issues on earth - with limited supplies of gas etc, you can't simply energise particles and vent them, and there is nothing to exchange heat with.

Mum given young nympho's phone number

Leo Rampen

0870 or premium rate?

All premium rate numbers are generally forwarded to other, normal numbers (hence "Say no to 0870")

Perhaps a mixup means that a premium rate number has been forwarded to her number. If, instead of talking dirty, she asked what number they had dialled, she would probably find it was not hers.

75-year-old has world's fastest private internet connection

Leo Rampen


I want it!

Even with the fastest disks, gigabit ethernet and various other things, that would still only be fulfilled to a fraction of its speed.

Assuming you used a RAM-based storage solution for high speed access, 10Gigabit+ ethernet connection and had the necessary throughput within your system (whats the maximum speed data can be moved on a modern motherboard?) you'd still be only using a bit of that speed. Connections that fast are designed for huge (and I mean 10-100,000+ terminal universities, businesses and datafarms) numbers of servers or terminals.

Dinner party guest makes gruesome discovery

Leo Rampen

Dinner party?

Surely having a dinner party in the same house as your dead wife and son would be...well...rather...stupid?

Digital divide becoming chasm, research reveals

Leo Rampen

Perhaps they don't want to?

Have they considered that the 31% remaining don't want a computer - I know that my grandparents don't want a computer. Perhaps as the old people die off and generations move up, the numbers will decrease slowly - I can't think of many kids my age who don't have a computer.

Apple TV gets 160GB HDD

Leo Rampen

Youtube? There's nothing there...

I recently got a HD LCD. As part of my excitement phase, I connected a laptop up to it in glorious 1366x768, and proceeded to watch the microsoft HD trailers (recommended) and browse youtube.

Once I got to youtube, I realised I didn't really want to browse it. THERE WAS NOTHING THERE! Sure, videos of some guy making a card hover are interesting, but not something I'm going to spend my time doing. The vast majority of youtube content is, the be frank, shit. Youtube's use is in hosting videos that otherwise wouldn't be hosted - video's of specific things that you discover through external links. It is not any use as a browsing site, because you have to sift through piles of crap to find one, 10 second, interesting clip.

why they think this a positive I don't know.

And also - can they not just install an FLV player on the apple TV - there's already plenty of OS X FLV players anyway.

Laptop overheats, vapourises Brazil... almost

Leo Rampen

It really is Fedora *Core*

Perhaps this is an underhand tactic by the Fedora Core developers to get their computers truly at *core* temperatures!

Canada announces monster solar plant

Leo Rampen

Global warming will not help

Solar panels utilise the sun directly. Global warming doesn't increase the light levels, but simply increase the overall heat of the earth (on average) by 1 or 2 degrees. It won't help generate solar energy in the slightest.

Interestingly, Niagra Falls produces 4MW of green energy, although has the potential to produce far more...

Rookie plumber torches £5m mansion

Leo Rampen


Is there not legislation requiring fireproof or fire retardant foam and insulation to be used in roof spaces? Surely we should be thanking this guy for bringing the issue to light (no pun intended) before the house burnt down from other reasons, potentially killing many, many people.

AMD to brand ATI Radeon 2000 series for HD era

Leo Rampen

HD? So is mine!

Have we not had HD graphics cards for the last 8 years? Are we going to have all our PC monitors branded HD next?

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