* Posts by tony72

458 posts • joined 2 Jul 2008


Google: I don't know why you say Allo, I say goodbye


Another Google project that they got bored with and gave up on? What a surprise!

I personally like Google's approach of trying various approaches to a problem, putting stuff out there and seeing what sticks. But it's essential with that approach that you prune the stuff that doesn't stick, otherwise you'd end up with a permanent mess of overlapping, semi-redundant products.

I'm not really sure what the people that moan about this actually want. I mean, do think Google should keep supporting Allo, even though it hasn't gained much traction, and it has other products that do the same job better? Or do you just dislike Google's whole approach, and you don't want them to release products like Allo in the first place?

Huawei MateBook Pro X: PC makers look out, the phone guys are here


Re: I rather like it, but for one detail

The current Dell Precisions have a full size numeric keypad, unlike the previous generation.

In Space, Still: 20 years since Russia hurled first bit of floating astronaut hostel into orbit



In case, like me, you were wondering why the acronym for " Functional Cargo Block" is FGB rather than FCB, wikipedia tells me it stands for the Russian term "Funktsionalno-gruzovoy blok".

Samsung 'reveals' what looks like a tablet that folds into a phone, but otherwise we're quite literally left in the dark



This did little to dispel the idea that foldable displays are a solution looking for a problem

I suppose if your already-ludicrously-oversized phablet still isn't big enough for you, one that folds out to twice the size might be just what you need; it would be big enough to hide your face behind if you're feeling embarrassed. But it seems like pure gimmickery (gimmickry?) at this point, I have yet to see a compelling use-case for such a device. Of course, seeing one up close in a well-lit room to figure out its actual capabilities and limitations might help with that...

BlackBerry KEY2 LE: The first budget Android QWERTY for years


Re: Close but no cigar

You keytards are never satisfied, are you?

World's largest CCTV maker leaves at least 9 million cameras open to public viewing


Re: Security? We've heard of it.

For anywhere that matters - are you really allowing your cameras on the same VLAN as anything other than other cameras? Are you really giving that VLAN Internet access? And do you really need to allow viewing of those cameras remotely from random IPs requiring port-forwarding etc. that you couldn't just do over an approved VPN to the right VLAN?

Yes on all counts. This was the way it was set up by the security company that provided and installed the camera (not a Xiongmai system, though I don't have too much faith that it's any better) and alarm systems. As it happens, we know enough to know that it's probably not ideal, and will probably get around to making things more secure, but I suspect 90% of smaller businesses getting a system installed would have no idea. Small businesses typically have limited in-house IT expertise, and use kit in whatever configuration suppliers set up for them, like it or not, so it would be really helpful if kit was at least a little bit secure out of the box.

Watch Series 4: What price 'freedom'? About as much as you'd expect from an Apple product

Black Helicopters


[...] the Watch has become a success. It's one of the nicest luxury purchases an iPhone can make.

If Apple have reached the point where one of their products is intelligent, self-aware and affluent enough to buy another, then I guess they are truly on the verge of world domination.

Do not adjust your set, er, browser: This is our new page-one design


Re: Argghhh

Stylus is a great alternative to Stylish. I have already used it to remove the ugly boxes; if you're going to have that much white space separating articles, boxes around them as well seems superfluous and aesthetically regressive.

Microsoft gives Windows 10 a name, throws folks a bone


With the Lenovo Explorer now down to $132 (from an original $349) ...

I'd buy a set at that price, but sadly the Atlantic price divide seems to be in overdrive here, they are still £380 (~$490) on this side of the pond, on Amazon at least.

It liiives! Sorta. Gentle azure glow of Windows XP clocked in Tesco's self-checkouts, no less


I don't know about POSReady 2009, but with the earlier versions of XP Embedded that I was familiar with, pretty much every component of regular XP was available as an option, it just depends what the person that builds the image chooses to include.

Wasted worker wasps wanna know – oi! – who are you looking at?


Re: Small correction

Wasps are not the kind of bugs they are used to dealing with.

The Register's 2018 homepage redesign: What's going on now?


Re: Its too busy...

Agree, the boxes look clumsy, I don't really see what they add; the page looks much cleaner without them. I'm struggling to picture the creatives meeting that came up with that;

"What can we do to change the look of the site?

[head scratching]

[beard pulling]

[blank stares]

"We could draw boxes round everything?"


Get drinking! Abstinence just as bad for you as getting bladdered


Re: The most important conclusion...

Oops, I meant per week obviously!

I swear that that mistake was not caused by drinking, it's a bit early even for me.


The most important conclusion...

I consider myself to be a moderate drinker, insofar as I never get drunk; however I drink some wine and spirits daily, and I blast past that 14 units level in a couple of days, never mind a week. So what I found interesting in the paper is not where the minimum risk of dementia is, but the comparison between abstention and the amount I actually drink. Looking at fig.2 in the paper, it seems that the outcome for abstainers is on a par with the outcome for people consuming 40+ units per day, and furthermore that comparison seems to tilt further in favour of the drinkers as age increases.

So I can slurp my dinner time cab sauv and my whisky nightcap safe in the knowledge that I'm doing as well as someone who doesn't drink at all. At least as far as dementia risk goes; I'm sure my liver might have something to say about this if it could speak.

Some of you really don't want Windows 10's April 2018 update on your rigs


Re: Stop breaking stuff

That's the problem with this model. In the good old days, between new major versions of windows, things were pretty stable, and you could deal with all the breakages all in one go when a new version dropped. But with the new rolling upgrades model, we are doomed to dealing with ongoing random breakages, without any continuous years of stability.

My tale of woe from the April '18 update was that it broke USB device forwarding in NoMachine. After much head scratching and blaming NoMachine, it turned out that a new (or newly enabled-by-default) Connected Devices Platform Service was now hogging the port that NoMachine uses. Thanks Microsoft.

Hurrah! Boffins finally discover liquid water sloshing around on Mars


Re: That conclusion seems a bit fast to me

To be fair, the paper actually is quite definite, the abstract says;

Quantitative analysis of the radar signals shows that this bright feature has high relative dielectric permittivity (>15), matching that of water-bearing materials. We interpret this feature as a stable body of liquid water on Mars..

However it's not as if they jumped to that conclusion, they didn't just see a bright patch on an image and say "yep, that's water". Reading the paper to understand how they reached their conclusions is definitely warranted before criticising those conclusions. I have only skimmed it, but is seems pretty sound to me.

Boffins build neural networks fashioned out of DNA molecules


That's nothing

I built a neural network out of NDA molecules ... but I'm afraid I can't talk about it.

Chrome, Firefox pull very unstylish Stylish invasive browser plugin


Re: While the software that has been removed is bad, I have issues...

i'm not sure that a commercial organization should be allowed to determine what I can and can't run on my device. And as a browser supplier, these organizations are increasingly in a position to determine this.

That seems like a bit of a strange attitude TBH. Your virus checker provider is a commercial organization that determines what you can and can't run on your device, and you're perfectly happy for them to do that (I assume, but feel free to set me straight otherwise). Mozilla/Google removing extensions judged to be malicious from their app stores and official delivery mechanisms is them acting in an equivalent role.

If you're determined to run malware-filled software, you're free to obtain the extensions from outside of the official app stores and sideload them. Google et al aren't controlling what you run on your machine, they are controlling what they distribute through their channels, and I personally don't see the problem with that.

Firefox hooks up with HaveIBeenPwned for account pwnage probe


Re: "WebExtensions can now hide tabs"

The example given on the Mozilla blog; "Sometimes you’re listening to music in a tab, but you don’t really want that tab taking up space as you browse the web.". Sounds reasonable to an extent, although I can't think of too many other use-cases. And when I'm listening to TuneIn Radio on the desktop, I open it in a separate window and minimize that, hence no unnecessary tab in the window I'm browsing in, so even that use-case is sketchy. But I'm sure more creative minds will think up some ways to use the feature.

Get a grip, literally: Clumsy robots can't nab humans' jobs just yet


Re: Screw the people this will put out of work then.

Made me think about a droid doing it. Then knowing surely, unless there is a MASSIVE leap in tech, this won't happen in our life time.

If you want to replace a human by a robot, and still do the job the same way the human did it, then that is true for many jobs. However often, you want to do the job a different way in the process of automating it, a way more suited to automation.

With reference to your bin man example, the solution might be an automated vacuum refuse collection system, such as already exists in many places; no bin men, no bin lorries, different way of solving the problem.

So just because humans do a job in a way that is tricky for automation to copy, doesn't mean that job can't be automated.

Keep your hands on the f*cking wheel! New Tesla update like being taught to drive by your dad


Re: Auto-crash-pilot

I suspect a significant proportion of human drivers would crash in that situation, if not the majority; the black car indicates and changes lane normally, and there are no brake lights or signs of trouble on the white car, so it's going to take a moment before you clock that it's not moving. It's less than 2s to impact from the stationary car coming into view by my stopwatch, and the nominal stopping time from 40mph with ABS is 2.0 seconds, so do the math; it's pretty much a guaranteed crash situation.

In fact many human drivers would probably swerve, which on a real highway with lanes full of traffic would likely mean an even worse accident as a nice multi-lane pile-up ensues. The car in the video had slowed quite a bit, as it was only slightly more than a car length late in stopping, so if it was hitting a real car instead of a polystyrene model, it would likely have at least kept the accident in its own lane.

The issue of whether you'd have time time to take over from autopilot in time is a bit moot, if the autopilot actually did as well or better than a human driver would have.

FYI: Qualcomm hasn't given up on Arm-based Windows 10 slabtops


@Wade Burchette - that's what the x86 emulation is for, it's mentioned in the article. With 10 year old applications, it's even possible the performance won't suck too badly.

Foolish foodies duped into thinking Greggs salads are posh nosh


@Credas - It's a somewhat edible hot burger in 2 minutes without going further than the kitchen, I say my defence stands up. Don't knock it 'till you've tried it.


People will eat any old shit if you present it the right way, how else does anyone explain rustlers microwave burgers?

Okay, I will step up and defend microwave burgers. You do have to make them right; no matter what the instructions say, toast the bun separately, do not under any circumstances put it in the microwave. Fold a paper towel around the meat patty when you cook it, it will soak up the excess moisture released during heating. In the case of Rustlers burgers, throw away the Rustlers sauce, it's disgusting, and apply your proper condiments of choice instead. If we're talking cheeseburger, an extra slice of cheese does not hurt, as the one slice provided is generally lacking in flavour, as well as quantity.

None of this will make it into a gourmet experience, don't get me wrong. But it is actually a passable snack if done right, and in my case, significantly superior to the burgers available from the eastern European guy around the corner, whose food safety standards are distinctly questionable.

IP freely? What a wind-up! If only Trevor Baylis had patent protections inventors enjoy today


@Blockchain commentard - it isn't a conspiracy theory exactly, and Bayliss didn't invent the wind-up radio, his patent was only for a very specific spring arrangement used in his radio, not for the whole concept (although he was more than happy for everyone to attribute the whole idea to him). There are patents going back at least to the 1940's covering the wind-up radio in general. Bayliss' patent was valid, but most of his complaining about IP theft was not, at least as regards his own invention; people moved on to using rechargeable batteries as the energy store in wind-up radios, which meant they did not require his patented spring arrangement, and didn't owe him anything.

Are meta, self-referential or recursive science-fiction films doomed?


Wait ....., sorry ..... I was vaguely remembering the Stainless Steel Rat series. Oh god, I'm getting old.

I never read Bill the Galactic Hero, but the Stainless Steel Rat books were great! Now where can I get a porcuswine burger around here?


Re: Films - meh

That's the thing, though. The movies acts as a great illustration to the book, but without having read the book it's very confusing. I remember it came on telly a day or two after I finished the book, and suddenly everything slotted into place. And you could see which bits had been shuffled around just to shift the narrative along quickly.

Dune is a truly epic tale, and IMHO much too big to fit in a single movie, or even a mini-series. I would love to see it given a full Game of Thrones level TV series treatment, then you might get something worthy of the books. Not likely to happen, but a man can dream.

I read The Expanse in parallel with watching the TV series, and doing that it was really obvious how much you lose even with many hours of serialisation, although I still found the series pretty enjoyable (there was that aspect of it providing a visualisation of key parts of the story). But trying to squeeze an epic tale like Dune down into a single two hour movie, to my mind it just can't work.

We put Huawei's P20 triple-lens snapper through its paces


Just to be clear ...

.. this is a phone we're talking about, right?

I know handset makers desperate to differentiate their hardware from the competition turn to secondary features such as the cameras to try to make their products stand out; fine. But journalists and reviewers don't have to pander to this kind of nonsense. There may be a few professional and pro-am photographers that choose to use a smartphone as a primary camera, and would care about having significantly above-average camera on their phone, but the vast majority of them are going to use a proper camera. And for everyone else that just wants to take a few holiday snaps that they'll probably never look at, or take a snap of their dinner to put on instagram or whatever, it really doesn't matter, the camera just needs to be ok.

This camera capability competition is little more than a marketing exercise, a way for manufacturers to try to claim bragging rights over their competition when the core product just isn't that exciting. And while I'm happy that it gives bored tech journos something to talk about, it just seems a bit silly to me. Maybe I'm alone, and everybody is going to pile in and tell me how having an amazing camera is their most important criteria in choosing a phone, I guess I'll see.

What a mesh: BT Whole Home Wi-Fi users moan over update


Re: Dumb question?

The only bit of good news in this story is that my contract term was coming to an end so I took the opportunity to mentally note to NEVER sign up with BT again and switched to a different ISP.

Although BT is not high on my list either, I'm not sure they are that much worse than any other big ISP, on the actual ISP front. I think the main lesson you should take away from that experience is do not use the ISP-supplied router. I've also had multiple bad experiences with firmware updates to a BT Business hub causing various problems, resolved only by junking the BT kit and replacing with a third party router. But was it worse than my Virgin Superhub 3 at home? It seems to be standard policy amongst ISPs to foist crappy kit on you, and then make matters worse by forcing sketchy firmware updates on you on their schedule that break things and are difficult to block or roll back. Never again if I can help it.

Windows 10 S to become a 'mode', not a discrete product


Re: ... Microsoft Store ...

It'll be the "year of Linux on the desktop" any day now.

Use ad blockers? Mine some Monero to get access to news, says US site


Re: I actually don't mind this - much... but...

If a site can promise that they will only have some banner ads, no autoplaying videos, no third party scripts (potentially malicious) from the ad slinger etc, then I would be happy to white-list their site - there are sites that I do indeed to that with already.

In theory, that's about what you're supposed to get with Adblock Plus with "Allow Acceptable Ads" enabled. I use that setting, unfortunately it doesn't seem to give any stats on that, so I have no idea how many sites actually carry "acceptable ads", or what the ratio of acceptable to non-acceptable ads is (pretty bloody low, I expect).

Indiegogo to ailing ZX Spectrum reboot firm: End of May... or we call the debt collector



The Indiegogo Terms of Use says

"Campaign Owners are legally bound to perform on any promise and/or commitment to Contributors (including delivering any Perks).".

That implies to me that there is a legal contract regarding that obligation; I don't think they would use the term "legally bound" if they couldn't back it up. Then this;

Recovering Funds

By using our Services, you acknowledge that Indiegogo reserves the right to attempt to recover or hold funds from your Campaign, or the connected Stripe or bank account associated with your Campaign, for reasons including but not limited to: refunds, lost chargebacks, a Campaign Owner does not act in accordance with Indiegogo’s Terms, or other situations resulting in negative balances.

We may obtain reimbursement of any amounts owed by a Campaign Owner to Indiegogo by holding funds from your Campaign, or the connected Stripe or bank account associated with your Campaign, or seeking reimbursement from the Campaign Owner by any other lawful means, including by using third-party collections agencies. You authorize us to use any or all of the foregoing methods to seek reimbursement..

So if RCL has experienced any of the conditions which could cause Indiegogo to be seeking cash from them, the the bailiffs may well be called upon. Assuming the Terms of Use are legally binding, or reflect the contents of a legally binding agreement signed by the campaigns, of course.

Pro Evo-lution shocker: Samsung SSDs focus on endurance over capacity


Endurance != Reliability?

I thought it was already well established that endurance, in terms of number of write-cycles is already well in excess of what consumer devices would ever reach (I thought there was an El Reg article on that, can't find it, but see e.g. Grueling endurance test blows away SSD durability fears.

Okay, you can't have too much of a good thing, and maybe these things will find themselves in some enterprise workloads. But all the SSD failures I've seen, which is several, including the 1TB Samsung in my own laptop, have not been because the drive got within a million miles of its rated write cycles, but because they just decided to stop working one day. "Boot device not found". Game over.

So by all means work on the endurance, Samsung, but if you could make it so they don't just keel over and die for no apparent reason as well, that'd be great!

(Note: I'm not saying Samsung has any kind of reliability problem, quite probably their failure rate is good, and we just got unlucky. Just pointing out the obvious, that non-wear-related failures are a thing.)

Amount of pixels needed to make VR less crap may set your PC on fire


Re: Do we really need much more pixels?

@onefang - sure, I didn't say the we don't need any more resolution, just that we might not need resolutions so high that our PCs will melt. I mentioned 4k displays at the end of my post, and 8k displays are being demo'd right now with current, albeit high-end PC hardware, e.g. Pimax 8k (some guy's video review), so that doesn't seem too crazy.

The Pixel in a VR headset is a bit lower resolution than the Rift, it's 1080p, so 960x1080 per eye, versus 1080x1200 for the Rift, but it's not too bad.


Do we really need much more pixels?

The biggest problem at the moment is not so much resolution as fill factor; the so-called "screen door effect". You can see individual pixels not so much because the resolution is too low, but because you can see the gaps around the individual pixels. Things don't look blocky as when the resolution is too low, but it looks as if you are looking through a fine mesh. Even just using my Pixel and Daydream headset, not the highest resolution rig, I rarely really feel like resolution is what's lacking.

Now you could solve this simply by throwing pixels at it - the higher the resolution, the finer the "mesh", and if you go fine enough, then it will seem to disappear. This will, as noted, require a great deal of processing power to render all those pixels, however, and seems like a pretty brute force way of dealing with it.

Foveated rendering doesn't sound to me like much better of a solution. The complexity of getting the eye tracking to work well enough and fast enough, the variable-resolution rendering, and the other issues mentioned, sounds like an absolute nightmare.

Now I don't know displays, but I do know a bit about image sensors. Image sensors also suffer from fill factor issues - light falling between the pixels is wasted, thus the sensitivity of the sensor is less than optimal. One common solution to that is micro-lenses - as it sounds, an array of tiny lenses is bonded over the pixels, and the lenses capture light that would have fallen into the dead area around the pixel and focus it onto the active area. I don't see any reason why something similar wouldn't work for displays, and a quick bit of Googling says I'm not the first to think that way. No idea of the practicality or cost of manufacturing that kind of thing, but it may well be that we don't need so many pixels to make VR less crap after all, a 4k display plus micro-diffusers (or whatever those things end up being called) to fix the fill factor may be more than good enough.

Butcher breaks out of own freezer using black pudding


Re: Tastes like chicken...

There seems to be either a pun-hater, or possibly a vegan, down-voting you guys. Whichever it is, if I find him, I'm not going to mince my words.

UK drone collision study didn't show airliner window penetration


Re: Let's just accept that the UK

Yeah, there's nothing like a dodgy dossier or two to ensure that the right policy decisions are made, eh? When will we learn?

The eagle has been grounded: Dutch anti-drone squadron retired


Re: From the beginning

Yes, I'm still trying to get my head raptor-ound the idea that they ever thought this would work.


True, but it was a funny article anyway, in fact I was positively owling with laughter.

Shazam! Apple chucks £300m at Brit what's-that-song app – report


Re: android envy

Siri/Alexa whatever voice assistant you choose simply passes the request to shazam and waits for the response, so either way this kind of integration is not something you would need to buy the company for.

Except that you don't get the associated data about, for example, what the customer ultimately buys from their Shazams, or where they buy it from, or how they respond to choices presented to them during the process. Remember, in this day and age, it's all about hoovering up all that lovely behavioural data people leave behind.


Re: Ah well

The speculation I've read elsewhere is that they want to give Siri the ability to recognise songs etc by integrating Shazam. No idea if they will crapify the standalone Shazam app in the process; it shouldn't be necessary, and would probably only drive people to Shazam alternatives more than driving them to use iTunes or whatever, but companies don't always seem to act rationally about these things.

Someone tell Thorpe Lane in Suffolk their internet sucks – they're still loading the page



When I first got on the internet, I had a 9600 baud modem, so that 0.68Mbps speed on the slowest street there is still more than seventy times faster than that, if it makes them feel any better. I have 100Mbps now though, and it's pretty sad to think that their 0.68Mbps speed is actually closer to that old 9600 baud modem than it is to my current cable connection.

Google prepares 47 Android bug fixes, ten of them rated Critical


Re: Peasants..

@ I ain't Spartacus - ACs posts may well be childish, but there is a valid point lurking under there. As long as people don't consider the availability of regular updates as a significant factor influencing their buying choice when purchasing a phone, there is little incentive for manufacturers to change their attitude to providing said updates. And the fact is that the majority of people seem to vote with their wallets to say that regular updates are not a big deal, in fact no few of them explicitly say they'd like less updates. You can hardly blame manufacturers for focusing on things that their customers actually care about.

Win 10 creators update offers new reality opportunity


Re: "That said, the market is at an early stage."

It's the age old problem - you need compelling content to persuade people to buy the equipment, but nobody wants to spend the money creating content when there isn't an existing user-base to sell it to. Every so often I pull my Daydream View off the shelf, spend an hour or two trying out a few apps from the play store, then usually end up on youtube watching a few 360 degree videos. There's lot's of stuff that hints at the potential of VR, but I have yet to come across any really compelling experiences.

UK Home Sec thinks a Minority Report-style AI will prevent people posting bad things


Re: Count me unimpressed

Amazon is great at recommending things I want to buy ... after I've already bought them. Hey you bought a nice TV; here are some more nice TV's. Thanks, already got one. I guess I probably don't buy enough from Amazon for them to properly profile me though, so maybe that's not fair, but on the surface, that seems to be about the level of intelligence behind their recommendations.

Logitech: We're gonna brick your Harmony Link gizmos next year


Re: Unnecessary cloud linkage

There is a tiny bit of rationale to it, albeit not much. This is a sous vide cooker, and cooking times can be several hours (I've done a 24 hour pulled pork recipe). If you had a two hour cook, for example, you could prep it before you went to work, and then start it with the app two hours before you head home, and that would work even if you weren't sure beforehand what time you'd be heading home. Never done that, but you could.


Unnecessary cloud linkage

Completely unnecessary cloud linkage of products is one of those things that's going to come to a head one of these days. I have one of those Anova Culinary Precision Cookers, and earlier in the year they updated their app and all of a sudden, you had to create an account online and sign in to use the app, a requirement which they dropped on users with no warning or explanation. Bear in mind that all this app fundamentally does is set a temperature and a time on the cooker. They subsequently claimed it was something to do with security improvements and Google Home integration, but somehow requiring signing in to a cloud account in order to set a timer between two devices on my own LAN seems like more of a security hole than an improvement, maybe it's just me. Fortunately the thing can be used on manual, and as far as I can tell they can't do remote firmware updates, so they can't brick it. But this kind of thing just seems stupid.


Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019