* Posts by Fihart

1139 posts • joined 3 Jun 2008

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The e-waste warrior, 28,000 copied Windows restore discs, and a fight to stay out of jail

Fihart

Re: Linux Mint is free @LucreLout

For years I would have agreed with you that Linux was not consumer-ready -- usually hardware issues. Then a couple of years back I tried Peppermint Linux (Ubuntu based I believe) and found it simple to install and that it worked with most hardware, automatically.

Granted Linux lacks the polished apps we've become used to with Windows or Mac, but for basic tasks (email, letter writing, internet browsing, watching DVDs) it worked fine for a complete technophobe when I lent her the machine.

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A print button? Mmkay. Let's explore WHY you need me to add that

Fihart

Huh ?

Had some trouble reading the article. IMHO style should never get in the way of clarity.

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Arrrgh! Put down the crisps! 'Ultra-processed' foods linked to cancer!

Fihart

They'll take my crisps....

......from my cold, dead hand. Ah, okay.

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You're decorating it wrong: Apple HomePod gives wood ring of death

Fihart

Re: Apple home furnishings range.

The solution would be for Apple to produce its own range of coasters to be compatible with its devices.

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Home taping revisited: A mic in each hand, pointing at speakers

Fihart

Re: "such outmoded tasks as buying CDs (No. 10)"

Sadly, CDs are rapidly vanishing. Used to buy them in charity shops and car boots for between 50p and £2 which is far better value than downloads. But now the choice is shrinking and, anyway, I don't understand current popular music. Now tend to buy orchestral-- the less challenging classics composers (the Russian Romantics, Spanish and French impressionist and English).

I think CD remains the best/most convenient medium compared to vinyl which is easily damaged and really needs an expensive player. Though I own several turntables, I've transcribed many of my favourite vinyl titles using a CD recorder (which gives better results than a PC, probably due to the quality of the DACs).

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Fihart

Re: Cassettes -- sheer modern luxury !!

"Grundig dictaphone"

The valve one in a beige plastic box - with a glowing blue light for the record level?

The very same.

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Fihart

Cassettes -- sheer modern luxury !!

When The Beatles' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" came out in 1964 I had just received a miniature Japanese reel to reel tape recorder. Naturally I took it with me to the nearest record shop.

Results weren't bad but the machine had a fatal flaw -- instead of the tape being driven directly by a pinch-wheel (as per every serious tape deck including cassette) it relied on friction drive to the tape reel carrier. That meant that the speed of the recording would vary according to the ratio of tape on the take-up spool. Not crucial so long as the tape was played back on the recorder but potentially ghastly if transferred to another machine.

But for me it was the beginning of a lifelong involvement in recording -- with a Grundig dictaphone and then cassettes -- and graduating to a Ferrograph, Revox and Studer machines when making radio ads professionally.

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Boffins crack smartphone location tracking – even if you've turned off the GPS

Fihart

Re: Great!

Yes. I was puzzled when my phone displayed my postion on a map app even though GPS and Location were turned off. Cell towers will still show where you are. You could switch to Airplane mode -- but then you can't receive calls/texts.

Slightly more worrying is the way Amazon etc calculate your street address via your IP address. And get it wrong. Careful when ordering or your neighbours may get your stuff.

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The Reg visits London Met Police's digital and electronics forensics labs

Fihart

Drug dealer numbers.

Puzzles me that while the mobile phone numbers that punters use to order drugs from dealers can change hands for £thous, the cops seem unable to get the telcos to just cancel those numbers. Every phone contract contains a condition that the service isn't used for illegal purposes.

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'The capacitors exploded, showering the lab in flaming confetti'

Fihart

I always switch off at the wall now.

Instances from my own computer and friend's of PSU exploding spontaneously when PC off but left plugged in. Visible burn mark on the wall adjacent. PC assemblers using cheap PSUs doubtless to blame.

Personal best for stupidity; replaced capacitors on a flatscreen. Checked it worked while still in parts. Reassembled. Over-long or over-tightened screws on the VESA bracket at the back, shorted something out. Big bang when next switched on.

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Apple iPhone X: Two weeks in the life of an anxious user

Fihart

Re: getting photos off an iPhone

Getting photos off an IPhone isn't a problem. The issue is trying to get picture and other files onto the iPhone.

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Fihart

Rolex or iPhone ?

"A Rolex wristwatch can cost a lot more than an iPhone X, for example, and all it does is show the time."

"A top-end smartphone isn’t just for Christmas: it’s for 18 months, maybe two years, two-and-a-half at a push".

I've had the same Rolex since about 1980. It still tells the time -- and pretty accurately.

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Why did I buy a gadget I know I'll never use?

Fihart

Don't let this man near a car boot sale*.

"Children do this with lost dogs. I do it with IT gadgets."

Oh God, yes. I see some neglected piece of quality hifi or IT stuff and I have to "rescue" it.

*For our transatlantic readers: garage sale or flea market

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Yes, your old iPhone is slowing down: iOS hits brakes on CPUs as batteries wear out

Fihart

Re: "Would you rather have shit battery time?" @d3vy

"And nowadays if you bought something labelled as "genuine Samsung" or "genuine Apple" the chances of it being genuine are slim."

So true. Needed new batteries for a Lumix camera and a Samsung phone. Reading Amazon feedback, many/most "genuine" batteries were shown to be not only fake but faulty.

Instead I bought a Hama camera battery on the basis that this is an established German camera accessory brand. For the phone I bought from a supplier that had countless positive reviews (battery brand I'd never heard of before but which has been working well for 6 months so far).

It's a scandal that enormous firms like Matsushita (Lumix), Samsung and Apple refuse to police their brand names, to the detriment of their customers. Of course it would help if they charged a reasonable price for replacement batteries, sold from their own sites or official retailers.

Better still batteries should be standardised across brands (they already seem to be pretty similar in format) so that one could buy them like torch batteries, picking a trusted brand like Energiser, Duracell, etc via regular retailers. This would go a long way to reducing the number of devices which are dumped when the battery fails.

Let's not even mention phones with fixed batteries.

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Fihart

Battery Time ?

"Seems like sensible and clever solutions. Would you rather have shit battery time?"

I'd rather have a battery that can be replaced without special tools !

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Dump ur mobile provider via txt by 2019: LMFAO cu l8r

Fihart

As ever, too late.

My impression is that the telcos have realised for some time that making users jump through hoops to leave has the opposite of the desired effect.

As in making people even more angry isn't going to persuade them to stay.

Now all we need is legislation to ensure that subsidised phones automatically unlock at the end of contract term (or within a similar period for PAYG).

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Hot chips crashed servers, but were still delicious

Fihart

My keyboard stupidity.

Friend reported that her Sony laptop's keyboard was playing up. I too couldn't access certain letters on the keyboard and feared the worst because it persisted even after rebooting the machine. After some head scratching, turned out that this Sony's Num Lock remained on despite restarting the computer.

Lesson learned -- though I never got round to testing whether this was normal for all brands as I avoid using laptops because the keyboards are, generally, so awful.

In my defence, I should add that the Sony's Num Lock LED was particularly small.

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Voda customers given green light by Ofcom to ditch contracts

Fihart

Re: Three of course, who abolished *all* roaming charges ...

Friend took up the Three offer for a trip to the USA. Discovered that it only applied to calls home. Perhaps understandably, did not cover calls to numbers within USA. Three offered refund of sorts. Generally, Three seem less user-hostile than EE and (apparently) Voda.

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Hello, Dixons Carphone? Yep, we're ringing from a 2015 handset. Profits down 60%, eh?

Fihart

"Should have changed the name to buzzphone slab showhouse years ago".

Personally, I always referred to them as Carphone Whorehouse, though -- to be fair -- their staff seemed more knowledgeable and helpful than most of the others.

Of course, on returning to the store found it had closed and was now another coffee shop/estate agent or whatever

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Fihart

Never paid more than £10 for a phone.

I have enough friends and wasteful neighbours that I've been able to progress from a base model LG (£10 Sainsbury's) to a Samsung Galaxy S4, within 8 years via top of the range Nokia and Blackberry and iPhones 4 and 4S.

Two of the phones have been salvaged from the rubbish and others were gifts from a friend when she upgraded. Galaxy was the only one that seemed to need a new battery (£7) but, like the Apple S4 before it, was unlocked. So I could switch my PAYG from EE to Three and actually afford to make phone calls !

I suspect that like Car/Dix I will find the gravy train has left the station as more people buy unlocked phones and switch away from providers who bribed them with new models every 24 months.

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Disk drive fired 'Frisbees of death' across data centre after storage admin crossed his wires

Fihart

Re: Recycle platters from modern hard disks

Once converted a defunct hard drive to a desk fan by cutting the platter and bending it into fan blade shape. Doubtless lethal.

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Russia threatens to set up its 'own internet' with China, India and pals – let's take a closer look

Fihart

Let them have their own internet.

Sadly, wouldn't get them and their scams and hacks off 'our' internet.

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User dialled his PC into a permanent state of 'Brown Alert'

Fihart

Re: Brownouts

Reminds me of user manual included with a graphics card. Perhaps translated from Chinese by the only person in the company who spoke any English, but who evidently to had little idea about the product.

There were various vaguely comprehensible suggestions on remedies if no image appeared on the attached monitor. The last was advice to check that the monitor's screen was not so dirty that you couldn't see anything !

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Fihart

latest user folly

Called out a few days ago to home of friend of friend. She reported that her internet was down and Sky had suggested she borrow another Sky router to see if that fixed it. I actually had the same model kicking around so set off. Check her router -- power LED not lighting. Tried another mains socket, same result. Tried my router -- again no power LED.

Checked the fuse box, jumper needed resetting. Then search for the phone cable -- seems to be several alternatives from different directions in the flat. Locate the correct one and as I'm sitting down at the PC, notice the user is stuffing the spare phone cable connectors into the empty network sockets on the router. Can't help but wonder if this is what blew the mains fuse.

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That 70s Show: Windows sprouts Sets and Timeline features

Fihart

Trying to second-guess = fail.

Most programs that try to think for you -- second-guessing what you might want to do -- just cause confusion.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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