* Posts by Fihart

1114 posts • joined 3 Jun 2008

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Wait, did Oracle tip off world to Google's creepy always-on location tracking in Android?

Fihart

Re: WiFi too

Presumably the answer to that is to keep wifi switched off until you need it.

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Windows Update borks elderly printers in typical Patch Tuesday style

Fihart

Re: Que?

As I recall DOS progs like Wordstar and WordPerfect contained printer drivers. As the Epson FX80 had been rebadged by IBM and sold as part of early PC systems, it was the default -- many other printers of that period emulated the Epson so most worked without needing drivers.

The problem with finding printer drivers may have begun when Windows took over much of the heavy lifting for laser printers, allowing them to become dumber and, thus, cheaper. Fortunately, printer manufacturers have a relatively honourable record of supporting legacy products. I say relatively because the rest of the IT industry can be shockingly irresponsible.

Dot matrix printers could be programmed via text files to do entertaining things like wind the (sprocket fed) paper up, print a line at the bottom, change text size, wind the paper down, print another line at the top of the page and so on.

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Fihart

Dot Matrix, that takes me back.

When I first got a PC for work in 1985 (paid for by me !) I used a Daisywheel printer (which produced typewriter quality text). However this type of impact printer made a sound like a toy machine gun when running.

Guys I shared an office with insisted that the printer was exiled to the toilet nearby -- with a cable through the windows between computer and printer.

Inevitably, this raised the possibility of waiting for some hapless soul to point at the porcelain -- and me issue text to the printer. With predictable hit and miss outcome.

Once dot matrix printers boasted "Letter Quality" printing (it wasn't as it turned out) their extra speed and compactness led me to upgrade. Instead of the daisywheel's machine gun fire, my colleagues were treated to a sort of nightmare giant mosquito whine.

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TalkTalk sees red after chucking £75m on restructuring bonfire

Fihart

At least you don't have to sit in the same room as these jerks.

In advertising one occasionally had meetings with Marketing grads in their first job as brand managers. They spouted a lot words which individually probably meant something but together made no sense to any of us on the actual working side of the table.

Didn't matter, as we just created the sort of ads we thought best and they then put them out to focus groups and we never heard about them again.

5
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Your next laptop will feature 'CMF' technology

Fihart

Let's hope the paint stays on better....

.....than on the Windows 7 HP Pavillion g6 with extensive wear to the area around the keyboard, revealing black plastic below the apparently metallic finish.

Consigned to the trash, probably because the power supply plug had disintegrated. Working again after some soldering.

Ignoring appearances, this is a decently speedy little laptop -- though I've seen another HP g series machine with serious overheating (the case melted).

HP maybe need to pay more attention to the materials and construction of their products and leave design aesthetics to later.

3
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Those IT gadget freebies you picked up this year? They make AWFUL Christmas presents

Fihart

Useless Use of USB

Cup warmer. Rechargeable hand warmer. Desk Fan.

Doubtless the last straw for your laptop's power supply circuitry.

Silliest USB sticks:

In the shape of a door key (gift from estate agent), stick which is a bare circuit board (gift from Intel) neither work reliably as they are a loose fit in most USB sockets (there's a reason for putting that metal casing around the connector).

USB memory in the shape of a little VW with headlights. Everyone who sees it wants to nick it.

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Hardware has never been better, but it isn't a licence for code bloat

Fihart

Re: Unacceptable @ stu4

To take the example of Windows, MS got into the habit of launching new versions mostly because shareholders came to expect the windfall that followed. Windows 7 was replaced to facilitate a world (phone, tablet, PC) domination strategy. So, Win 8 and 10 had less than ever to do with users' wishes.

Fortunately, the world domination strategy was doomed -- but can we expect a slimmer, more user oriented replacement for 10 ? Can we hell !

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Fihart

Ah, when I were a lad.....

On my first computer, a 1985 Apricot with twin floppy drives, you could run a word processor from a 720k floppy and still have room for documents on the disk.

The program was Superwriter from Computer Associates, which I think had been ported from CP/M to DOS -- as indicated by the restriction on document length that Superwriter would support as a legacy of CP/M's 8bit (?) origins.

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I love disruptive computer jargon. It's so very William Burroughs

Fihart

Social ineptitude vs. human frailty

Doubtless the problem is that the sort of people who can cope with writing code are not very good at relating to actual people. Apple, who are generally good making technology accessible, are guilty of some of the worst bits of nonsense I've come across.

iTunes is simply the least intuitive piece of commercial software I've encountered. It seems designed to frustrate any attempt to copy pictures, text or music to Apple devices. I live in an urban area where traffic noise can be so loud that Apple's standard iPhone ringtones are inaudible. Copying custom ringtones to the iPhone was a ridiculous process that doesn''t always seem to work. On Android, it's just drag and drop.

The Guardian complains today that Apple's frequent demands that users supply an Apple ID not only disrupts work but leaves users security vulnerable to spoof sign-in demands.

Recently I tried to help a friend set up a new iPad. At some point we came up against the Apple ID issue. Being non computer literate my friend had probably set up an Apple ID but only had a vague idea whether or what it was. Then, either instead or in addition, the iPad wanted a phone number. At this point I gave up and merely got the iPad working as best I could and advised my friend to take the damn thing back to the Apple shop and get them to set up the rest of it.

19
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Rejecting Sonos' private data slurp basically bricks bloke's boombox

Fihart

Re: Extortion?

I may be wrong, but isn't there legislation regarding retrospective disabling of software ?

In Sonos' case may be accidental or incidental but it really is time that buyers asserted the fact that they have bought a product, own it, and won't tolerate the manufacturer messing with post purchase.

Microsoft -- I'm looking at you.

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Outage at EE wrecks voice calls across the UK

Fihart

Kevin Bacon @m0rt

An upvote earned. My irony meter went into the red zone.

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Lenovo spits out retro ThinkPads for iconic laptop's 25th birthday

Fihart

Desktop Keyboards @AC

"Don't forget the IBM standard desktop keyboards.

I've kept several for when they wear out, so far I'm still using the first one as I type this and every key works."

As far as I can see, they don't wear out -- typing this on a model built in 1991 (in Scotland, from girders).

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Fihart

A survivor.

Found a T410S in the trash; lid hanging by one hinge, screen hanging from lid, keyboard sticky from ciggy smoke.

After a little kitchen table engineering, W7 reinstall and shitload of drivers from Lenovo site, now my favourite laptop. Touchscreen, SSD, silly light over the nice keyboard. Wish they'd implemented the mobile broadband more sensibly !

Love the TP almost as much I loved my first laptop -- Dell Latitude CPi Pentium2 in blue, built from two flea market wrecks for under £20.

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Hipster disruptor? Never trust a well-groomed caveman with your clams

Fihart

Turtlenecks, boybeards...

Like the turtleneck shirt joke. Of course all had boybeards in those days, given average life expectancy of 18 yrs.

8
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BBC Telly Tax petition given new Parliament debate date

Fihart

Re: Please someone tell me why I should pay the license fee? @sabroni

"This isn't a subscription service, it's a tax to fund a public broadcaster."

If it's a tax, levy it on a scale like income tax.

Instead of charging viewers indiscriminately, regardless of ability to pay.

1
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Why Uber isn't the poster child for capitalism you wanted

Fihart

Re: Uberbnb @jemmings

"2 types of AirBnB.

1 - people with a spare room, who need a lodger.

2 - capitalists who buy 20 flats and let out each room at low cost unfair to hotels."

A very good analysis. Your example 1 is how airbnb was meant to operate and why Government eased restriction on number of let nights.

Your example 2 is how airbnb is often working. Worse, many landlords are breaching leasehold covenants designed to protect neighbours and are exceeding the number of let night limits.

Probably few care about the effect on hotels, but the drying up of rental properties is serious.

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Fihart

Re: Uberbnb

Barcelona too. Demos against.

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Fihart

Uberbnb

Similar story with airbnb -- apparently just disrupting the hotel business but actually exacerbating the housing crisis as landlords switch from Assured Shorthold lets of a year or two to weekend lets -- for about the same as a week's regular rent.

Add to that the undermining of communities and noise nuisance to neighbours of early morning arrivals and late nights out and airbnb is proving a menace in London and, doubtless, in other tourist destinations. Tenant groups and local councils are looking to new legislation.

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Indian call centre scammers are targeting BT customers

Fihart

try to avoid BT's offshore call centres

During years of unsatisfactory dealings with BT I realised that I could not rely on the Indian call centre to actually do anything. They were helpful and polite but when I received my next bill, the promised corrections were not there. Instead I emailed the Customer Services boss of BT and was, in turn, contacted by a woman with an Ulster accent who actually fixed things.

Alternatively, use Twitter and when (inevitably) the BT's Twitter Jockeys can't fix issues they may hand you on to online interactive text chat. You then have a written record of your dealings, unlike on the phone.

In the end, increasing fees meant I dumped BT 18 months ago -- so things may have improved/got worse since.

4
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Two million customer records pillaged in IT souk CeX hack attack

Fihart

Colourful history....

Quite a 'colourful' company, originally the Music and Video Exchange, with main branch in Notting Hill Gate. I seem to remember reading their terms of business at that time when buying a used CD -- these implied that part of the price was to purchase a warranty and that portion was not refundable if the product had to be returned. I thought at the time that this would have raised some eyebrows if a customer took it to small claims. I may be mistaken, but I recall that the original firm was registered in the Channel Islands, which would have matched the freebooting style of the now deceased founder.

2
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Hate it when your apartment block is locked to Comcast etc? Small ISPs fight back

Fihart

Re: As a building owner...

Similar issue with TV. Sky has been incentivising landlords to install a dish and wiring. Just coincidentally, the regular coax wiring to traditional roof aerials gets removed. Sky presumably hope that leaves tenants no choice but to subscribe.

Fortunately, there's a good supply of old Sky boxes dumped on the street and they work as Freesat without a subscription -- I'm happy to pass these on to my neighbouring landlord's tenants. Equally, Sky haven't reckoned with the fact that today's tenants are just as likely to watch TV via the internet.

2
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Sonos will deny updates to those who snub rewritten privacy terms

Fihart

Re: Old Skool @Stuart 22

Me too -- Quad preamp and 405 power amp, B&W DM2 speakers, Thorens 125 turntable with Mission arm, Arcam CD. Most bought for peanuts, some actually saved from landfill. Lovely.

I've heard of Sonos like I've heard of Bose. Seem to defy physics and half a century of hifi evolution.

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Police camera inaction? Civil liberties group questions forces' £23m body-cam spend

Fihart

Could save money ?

If footage of incidents avoids lengthy enquiries over allegations police brutality during arrests it may pay for itself. If the cameras record indisputable evidence of crimes and more accused plead guilty, will save police time. Equally, may discourage any misconduct by officers.

However, as a local activist I despair that the shortage of resources for London's force is affecting operations to the point where, for example, individual drug dealers seem not to be considered worth targeting.

But I also note that didn't stop the Met ordering lots of Thinkpads, among the more expensive laptops on the market.

10
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Don't buy Microsoft Surface gear: 25% will break after 2 years, says Consumer Reports

Fihart

Not just Microsoft

As laptops grew cheaper a few years back they clearly lost quality. The ones turning up broken in my local dumpster are relatively new.

Most keyboards are fragile and near-impossible to repair. Complete or partial mainboard failure (on-board power components, I suspect) seems common across brands. Broken lid hinges on a Dell, an HP, Lenovo Thinkpad and a Toshiba. Loose and missing screws on a Samsung left the lid hanging on by one hinge.

Worst example was the top of the range i7 processor Toshiba where the aluminium lid had only been secured to a plastic hinge bracket by glue. Mainboard seemed to have failed too. Date of manufacture stamp on the optical drive suggested the Tosh was about 18 months old.

7
1

Tech giants warp eco standards to greenwash electronics, rake in cash

Fihart

Re: Standard sizes @Kevin McMurtrie

I take your point(s) but as most phones are very similar devices (viz: the common chipsets used) if a standard set of batteries was created, manufacturers could design new phones around those specs.

Even if specs evolved over time, it would make replacement a lot simpler and cheaper -- if not quite as simple as buying torch batteries in a supermarket.

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Fihart

Re: Ramble On @Nick Pettefar

"why does my iPhone 6 run so slowly nowadays compared to my iPhone SE? Also my Mac Mini (2.53GHz CPU) is really slow. I am almost certain that Apple deliberately cause older models to run slowly so that the newer models appear to run much faster"

Two issues here: 1) upgrading the OS will often slow a device, especially if the OS has been designed for later models with faster hardware. 2) OS will slow under weight of your added content/apps and build up of redundant files.

Solution is to wipe everything (having backed up personal stuff) and reload original operating system.

0
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Fihart

Re: Repair != Green @Ian Cognito

I recently needed a replacement battery for a Samsung Galaxy S4. Samsung's site does recommend a UK supplier but that vendor didn't have the battery I needed. Those it had seemed rather expensive.

Amazon had dozens of (apparently) Samsung batteries at a wide range of prices. But user reviews suggested that many were fakes that performed badly or failed soon after purchase. One vendor's reviews seemed to suggest that it was a fraudulent operation, failing to deliver merchandise and using credit card numbers to steal further funds.

In the end I bought a battery from a vendor with good reviews, even though the battery brand was unknown to me.

Much the same story when I needed a battery for a Lumix camera -- thankfully, the long established German photo accessory brand Hama sells a fairly full range of camera batteries with a long warranty.

I guess big manufacturers don't care enough to police the fakes and would prefer we replaced the device rather than just the battery.

1
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Google tracks what you spend offline to prove its online ads work. And privacy folks are furious

Fihart

stick with cash

More evidence that our privacy and in the long run, perhaps our liberty, at stake.

Minimise use of credit cards, don't use payments via phone on near field. Whenever possible use high street stores and pay by cash -- and no loyalty cards.

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You know what’s not so throttled at O2? UK sales. They're up 2.6%

Fihart

Re: You know what else is going up at O2? @Haku

Looks like 02 are following EE by pricing out PAYG vermin. How can these companies justify 15p per text when they cost them too little to calculate ?

Solution is to quit -- Lebara, Giff Gaff, Three etc offer much better deals.

2
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Alexa, why aren't you working? No – I didn't say twerking. I, oh God...

Fihart

About as reliable.....

...as those devices that let you turn on a light by clapping your hands. I gave up on the thing when my hands hurt from clapping.

4
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Repairable-by-design Fairphone runs out of spare parts

Fihart

Re: 4 year life?

So right. Back when Dell laptops were all similar in design and shared components I needed a hard disk tray. Bid for one on ebay and lost -- it went for about £12 as I recall. Next week found an entire laptop from same range for £15 with broken screen in fleamarket. Haven't bothered ebay since.

3
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Microsoft drops Office 365 for biz. Now it's just Microsoft 365. Word

Fihart

Another cynical abuse of language.

"We are transforming the way we partner with you,"

In other words we are not your partner but, rather, have become an abusive spouse.

13
3

Windows Insiders with SD cards turn into OneDrive outsiders

Fihart

The usual abuse of language.

"Microsoft OneDrive wants to ensure users have the best possible sync experience on Windows, which is why OneDrive maintains the industry standard of support for NTFS."

How is not being able to sync, ensuring that users have the best possible sync experience ?

SD cards are Fat32 so they work with Mac and with cameras as well as Windows. It's a fact of life Microsoft have simply ignored.

They show their utter contempt -- and we increasingly return the compliment.

8
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It's the iPhone's 10th b'day or, as El Reg calls it, 'BILL RAY DAY'

Fihart

Re: Don't mention the iTunes. Kies @ Nick Ryan

Oh God, Kies ! Version from Samsung UK wouldn't install on W7 32bit, would install on 64bit but refused to work with Galaxy S4. Version from Samsung US installed and seemed to work. But by then I'd lost the will to live.

1
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Fihart

Don't mention the iTunes.

Two major hurdles to all iPhones: cost (obviously) and iTunes.

Insisting that anything uploaded to the phone has to go via the worst piece of commercial software I've ever encountered is a major no-no.

I struggled install my own ringtones (essential as the iPhone's default ones are too quiet to be audible on an urban street). Being unable to easily upload documents and pics stopped me using iPhone as a mobile office, something I'd been able to do with a Symbian Nokia E71 in 2011.

Some relief to go from iPhone to Android on an aged Samsung G4 (had the unique price advantage of being found in a dumpster, so just cost £7 for a fresh battery).

To be fair, the iPhones 4 and 4S I used were 100% reliable. In common with friends, I've found Android very occasionally falls over.

1
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Fresh cotton underpants fix series of mysterious mainframe crashes

Fihart

Re: Don't give me no static ...

On one occasion I touched a laptop and felt/heard a flash of static. The computer stopped dead.

Fortunately laptop could be restarted and was apparently undamaged. Culprit, pair of trainers with (presumably) synthetic soles, walking on a wool carpet.

Note also that opening envelopes with self-adhesive flap generates static -- try opening one in the dark

(don't ask !) .

8
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Men charged with theft of free newspapers

Fihart

Re: Nothing is 'free'

"Probably a cunning plan by the editor to boost circulation by having large amounts taken from various stations."

Shrewd comment. When working in ad agency with a client who was a magazine publisher I brought a meeting to a standstill by suggesting that instead of running an ad campaign to boost circulation we simply spent the money buying copies of the magazine and dumping them. Wasn't too surprised to some years later see a skip/dumpster near a publishing house full of current copies of a consumer mag.

22
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Sharp claims Hisense reverse-ferreted its US telly licence deal

Fihart

Who made your TV ?

Universal Media Corporation (UMC Slovakia) now makes TVs sold under an astounding range of formerly famous brand names: Grundig, Bush, Blaupunkt, Akai, Ferguson, Teac, Goodmans, Alba-- plus (in the UK) Sharp.

TVs sold under those brands are not necessarily made exclusively by UMC.

Fortunately, the UMC TVs I have encountered have proved pretty good, in fact a current model I tried is at least as good as an LG. One that failed (dodgy capacitors) at least had the virtue of being easy to disassemble and repair.

2
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My unpopular career in writing computer reviews? It's a gift

Fihart

Please don't write this.

"Year after year, I watch on........"

I don't know where this kind of English came from, but I strongly suspect Australian soaps.

Fine to say "look on" or "watch", but "watch on" jars. It's like "park up" when "park" would do. Parking up is when something is left permanently or semi-permanently.

2
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Lexmark patent racket busted by Supremes

Fihart

Re: What about other measures?

All sounds very complicated. Simple solution, don't buy Lexmark printers.

See also; don't buy inkjet printers as they are unreliable compared to lasers.

8
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Ransomware realities: In your normal life, strangers don't extort you. But here you are

Fihart

In your normal life, strangers don't extort you ?

Well, it's called rent and most of us pay it monthly in order not to perish on the streets.

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Bye bye MP3: You sucked the life out of music. But vinyl is just as warped

Fihart

Re: Jewel cases

The biggest problem with jewel cases is, as you say, the centre crown that holds the CD in. Much worse with the innovation of clear plastic (so that artwork under the disc was visible) which seems more brittle than the regular opaque plastics used before.

2
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Fihart

Re: On air compression

When working with the old Charisma label Genesis were on, I complained about surface noise even on the white label vinyl samples I used for radio ads.

Rather grudgingly, I was informed that they'd gone for a "classical press" when the live double album "Seconds Out" was produced. Can't say I could hear any difference. Worthwhile seeking the

fairly recently remastered CD versions of the band's early albums, they really are an improvement.

2
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Cisco to fire another 1,100 after sixth straight revenue fall

Fihart

Good riddance.

Nice products. Horrible company.

3
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Gig economy tech giants are 'free riding' on the welfare state, say MPs

Fihart

Re: A long time coming

Unfortunately, it's not just the disruptive new economy's low wages that exploits the welfare state. For example, supermarkets employ thousands of young mothers in poorly paid part-time jobs (necessarily because they have to look after kids out of school hours). Benefits, especially housing benefit, make up the difference. Food shops depend on cut-throat pricing and we consumers won't pay more.

1
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Would you believe it? The Museum of Failure contains quite a few pieces of technology

Fihart

Re: I can't even rememer the name of the damned thing but....

LS-120 a good idea spoiled by greed, as you say. But perhaps also the fact that early external drives by Imation suffered from a power cube that failed. Company offered free replacements but it must have shaken faith for early adopters versus the more widely available (but in my view inferior) Zip disk.

0
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Fihart

Re: Kodak Digital Camera

Eating batteries was a common fault with most early digital cameras. In many instances could have been solved by making space for 4 rather than 2 AA cells -- but pocketability won over utility.

Only solution for consumer was expensive Lithium AA batteries.

Soon most makers offered models with Lithium Ion rechargeables -- but, being greedy, refused to make these interchangeable between models, let alone brands so they could charge the earth for replacements.

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Fihart

Philips Digital Cassette Tape etc

The infamous (or unfamous) DCC -- I only know one person who bought into it -- though a few record shops stocked the prerecorded tapes, as I recall.

Then there were those really big cassettes (LCassette ?). Sony made some machines, but the medium barely surfaced.

Quadraphonics -- none of the systems (SQ promoted by CBS and Sony, CD4 by Warner and Panasonic or QS by ABC Records and Sansui) actually worked and, having tried quad out, I was relieved to go back to regular stereo.

11
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BT's spam blocker IDs accident claims as top nuisance call

Fihart

Too late for me and BT.

When I rang to close my BT account they made little effort to dissuade me.

Offered a deal which cost precisely the same as I was already paying.

Replied to my comment that most calls seemed to be PPI pests that they could offer caller display (I'd already cancelled that when they suddenly started charging for it).

When I explained that calls via my Three mobile were cheaper than on BT landline, the reply was that BT offered mobile phones too -- yeah, but I' was leaving BT-owned EE because they were raising their charges.

BT seem to still have the GPO monopoly mindset.

3
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Put down your coffee and admire the sheer amount of data Windows 10 Creators Update will slurp from your PC

Fihart

Multiple OS on multiple machines.

I think we may have to move to a situation that, where obligatory, Win10 is run on one machine (preferably without a full time internet connection) and 7 or Linux or Apple or Android on a couple of other machines. Feasible given the power of laptops and tablets.

It would be a big step backwards, but it's this or surrender to Microsoft's clearly unethical (if not illegal) intrude and control business model.

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