* Posts by Greencat

51 posts • joined 28 Aug 2008

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Dixons Carphone smarting from £440m loss as it writes down goodwill on mobile biz

Greencat

Dixons rather than Carphone Warehouse, innit?

Given some of the appalling customer service I experienced from Dixons in the 90s, there's no way I'd go back to any store with that moniker above the door. I suspect they are reaching the point that they have screwed over enough people that it's now hitting them in the pocket.

Brit bomb hoax teen who fantasised about being a notorious hacker cops 3 years in jail

Greencat

I suspect...

His claims of a history of killing small animals and psychopathy are as much part of his fantasy as his elite hacker attempts ie lame fiction. The guy's watched too many episodes of Dexter and CSI.

He's a silly kid with likely poor social skills living in a fantasy who took it too far basically. Hopefully, a short bout of porridge will break him out of it. The sad thing is that even if it does, it's probably screwed his chances of a normal life afterwards.

On the seventh anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, we give you 7 times he served humanity and acted as an example to others

Greencat

Interesting to speculate...

...what Jobs' third act of life would have been like. Gates, perhaps only by dint of living longer and finding philanthropy, will probably be judged more kindly.

CADs and boffins get some ThinkPad love

Greencat

The laptop of my future

I guess I'll be picking up one of those in about ten years time when my small collection of x61s finally give up the ghost.

The last phablet? 6.4in Samsung Galaxy Note 9 leaves you $1k lighter, needs 'water cooling'

Greencat

Re: Fuck that.

While anecdote isn't the singular of data - it's perfectly understandable that someone won't want to repeat a bad experience. Dixons once screwed me over in the 90s and I have never bought anything from them or their group since. Dixons may not be a bad store, but I'm happy in my decision. YMMV.

So woke: Microsoft's face-recog can now ID more people who aren't pasty white blokes

Greencat

No improvement at all.

In defence of online ads: The 'net ain't free and you ain't paying

Greencat

No problem with ads...

....as I never see any of them. Very occasionally, I'll have reason to load a browser to view a page without an adblocker - and then I'll realise why I've got one installed. There are some utterly obnoxious ads out there.

The thing is I was quite happy with the early internet banner ads. They felt equivalent to a newspaper ad. Fairly unobtrusive, usually irrelevant and ignorable.

Between boringly obvious but breathlessly written opinion pieces, lists, clickbait, autoplaying videos etc - most web based digital content is not worth the electricity consumption or your attention - never mind turning off the adblocker/paying a subscription/micropayment for. At best, it's mildly diverting.

I know a few journalists and it seems something like a Brave New World race to bottom content and payment wise. That's a shame, but I don't see an obvious solution.

Hitler 'is dead' declares French prof who gazed at dictator's nashers

Greencat

Re: Um… Why?

Not just aristocrats either. It was common among the poor to have all of your teeth pulled in early adulthood to avoid future trouble with them. My east London born grandmother had hers yanked and replaced with falsies on her 16th birthday.

America's forgotten space station and a mission tinged with urine, we salute you

Greencat

Heads they win, tails you lose

In fairness to mobile phone manufacturers, there's no real incentive for them to do so. Every soggy mobile phone is another sale of a new one for them.

Windows Notepad fixed after 33 years: Now it finally handles Unix, Mac OS line endings

Greencat

Re: Windows... love/hate

In fairness to Microsoft, I'm not sure they have ever prioritised the user experience. Windows 10 is at least consistent in that respect.

Take-off crash 'n' burn didn't kill the Concorde, it was just too bloody expensive to maintain

Greencat

Re: The most amazing engineering

Agreed. I live on the flight path of the local RAF base and we get all manner of exotic aircraft flying overhead - sometimes extremely low. They are infrequent enough - say once or twice a week - that they are something to be marvelled at rather than annoyed by.

I'd feel very differently if it was hourly.

MacBook Pro petition begs Apple for total recall of krap keyboards

Greencat

Started with the Macbook

I have the 2015 Macbook and already had the keyboard swapped out once. As AC suggests, once you get used to it - it is an excellent keyboard for touch typists in particular. Sure, it's no Thinkpad (the gold standard in laptop keyboards), but I couldn't go back to Windows or Linux.

But the Macbook keyboard is extremely vulnerable to the normal day to day detritus that keyboards tend to accumulate. A toast crumb (or two) trapped under a key can render it inoperable. Wiping a cloth over the keyboard from time to time often aggravates the problem by driving dirt etc deeper. Tipping it upside down won't clear anything either due to small tolerances. Apparently you can remove individual keys for cleaning, but the tutorials look rather fiddly.

Overall, I suspect Apple simply forgot to test this in the real world of someone eating over the top of it, or it otherwise picking up crap from its surroundings. I'm sure I've seen an Apple patent design which looks like some kind of protective seal around the edge of each key. I wouldn't be surprised if that's a response to this problem.

I see a couple of options for Apple. A one off top case replacement (doesn't solve the problem), creating a tool which makes key removal/cleaning easier and/or replacing with a new style of keyboard.

Morrisons launches bizarre Yorkshire Pudding pizza thing

Greencat

Re: What to do with a yorkshire pizza pudding...

Does it blend? Could be a challenger to the hipster favourite, bone broth if so.

Fleet of 4.77MHz LCD laptops with 8088 CPUs still alive after 30 years

Greencat

Re: Quality versus quantity?

Perhaps not that surprising given the cost of early laptops sometimes ran into thousands. My first brand new laptop (I'd had a few second hand ones since the early 90s) was a Sony VAIO in 99. That came in at just shy of £2K (a sizeable chunk of a house deposit in many parts of the UK then). Their QA was already crap given my own experience.

Now you can pick up a reasonably specced laptop for under 300 notes, and a tablet for well under 100 so it's perhaps more surprising that modern computers work as well as they do for as long as they do.

Kiss your Glass goodbye: Google mothballs techno-specs (for now)

Greencat

Re: It seemed a silly idea to me, until...

Found myself in a similar situation the other day. Part of London I wasn't familiar with, and a destination around six miles away - fancied a stroll and had a couple of hours to spare.

I simply put on my headphones, put on an audio book and set Google maps navigation going. It seamlessly faded out and paused my book when it needed to give me instructions - then resumed the book immediately afterwards. Meant I didn't have to look down at anything or look like a Glasshole. Phone never left my pocket so reduced potential for being mugged too.

YMMV but I felt it was good enough.

Govt spaffs £170k to develop the INTERNET OF SHEEP

Greencat

Perhaps not completely bonkers

Measuring river flow could perhaps be useful given the number of hydro-schemes potentially in the offing in North Wales as well as provide early warning of flooding.

I can just imagine a group of walkers chasing after a bunch of sheep to improve their mobile wireless connection through a PAYG mesh network or something. Even so, I wonder if there are that many sheep out there to make one viable. But agreed the margins on sheep are so horrifically poor, the farmers would basically have to be paid to put the devices on the fluffy critters.

Landline based broadband is improving quite a lot in North Wales. My village not too far from Conwy now gets a reliable 36Mb/s. Mobile, however, is still an absolute shocker even immediately outside of medium sized towns.

Apple knob refusenik Sir Jony Ive handed award - for talking BOLLOCKS

Greencat

Re: Talking of plain English

I'd say the usability was very nearly the same as a pocket watch. Pull out of pocket. Optionally (if it hasn't been clipped as you pull it out) press top button. Read time. Put back in pocket.

Quite often the pull/put back in pocket can be skipped if the phone is on the desk next to you.

At night time (when plugged in), I simply ask it what's the time - and it'll read it out to me. That saves a fumble in the darkness to find the time keeping device, and the bleary eyed focus on it - often enough to rouse me from my sleep completely.

Plus I never have to remember to check if the time on the phone is correct, and change if not. The phone does it all by itself. And by forgoing a watch I have one less device to worry about keeping safe, putting on in the morning etc.

I'm never going to ditch the phone for a watch, but have happily got rid of the watch in favour of the phone.

That dreaded syncing feeling: Will Microsoft EVER fix OneDrive?

Greencat

Cough...Mac client

Never has MS' confusing naming approach (Oh, so there are two OneDrives?) been so galling. If I want OneDrive for personal use on the Mac I can get it, but for business via 365? Forget it - and seemingly no ETA either.

Between this, and the non-appearance of Office 2014 for the Mac - you'd be forgiven for believing you were a second class customer as a Mac user. Even the iPad gets better treatment.

Still, at least we have the bloated new version of Outlook for the Mac to play with (how can a piece of software grow by 10x in size between versions?) What exactly does it do to deserve around 3/4 Gig of HD space?

Bargain basement iPhone shoppers BEWARE! eBay exposes users to phishing vuln

Greencat

Been going on for months

...and affecting all kinds of listings not just iWotsits. In short if anything desirable seems a bit cheap, there's a reasonable chance you'll encounter one of these redirects (maybe one in a few hundred listings in my experience).

I have submitted a few to eBay myself - but they seem uninterested on the whole.

One fix is to disable javascript on listings.

Beware WarKitteh, the connected cat that sniffs your Wi-Fi privates

Greencat

Next step...

Turn the kitties into a free wireless mesh network. Goodness knows there are enough around here.

DOH! Google’s internet of things vision is powered by… Mac OS

Greencat

And at their science museum exhibit...

...I think I remember seeing a ton of Mac Minis running it all. Certainly some Apple flavoured machine.

Yes. App that lets you say 'Yo' raises 1 MEEELLION DOLLARS

Greencat

Typo in the app?

Surely, it should say YOS not YO'S.

SMASH AND GRAB iThieves run car through front of Berkeley's Apple Store

Greencat

Re: how do you fence that stuff?

It is apparently possible to change the serial number on at least some Macs although you'll also have to scratch it off the outside as well.

Nokia offers 'voluntary retirement' to 6,000+ Indian employees

Greencat

Retirement...

...do they mean like Bladerunner?

Amazon's 'schizophrenic' open source selfishness scares off potential talent, say insiders

Greencat

Not sure what's new here

My last job operated under similar circumstances. As a young developer, it was frustrating to be working on what would be cutting edge award winning stuff - if only it had ever seen the light of day.

It would have probably moved things in the wider world a tad - and yes, we'd have probably benefited from external input as well - but that was the job.

Some people will be OK with that. Some of my former colleagues are still there more than 15 years later. Others want the glory.

But my ex-company probably still exists today because of that ability to maintain secrecy.

Windows NT: Remember Microsoft's almost perfect 20-year-old?

Greencat

NT 4.0 - a wonderful OS

Coming to NT 4.0 after Mac OS 7.5 crashes was a breath of fresh air. I can still remember the bliss of having Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and Director - plus a couple of different browsers for testing - in my start up folder. Switch on the computer, go and have a cup of tea, come back and everything is loaded up and ready to go. Speedy and reliable all day - and in 'just' 80MB of RAM. Microsoft really had cracked it - and then came 98 and....shudder....Me.

Asus FonePad: You may feel a bit of a spanner

Greencat

Re: No Camera?

Same hear. The crazy thing is that the Asian version does have a camera - but less storage.

Stephen Hawking seeks geek to maintain his unique wheelchair

Greencat

Interesting job but don't stay there for long

This would be a good job to do straight out of university in lieu of a gap year. Not a bad salary either for new graduate. You would get a great addition for CV, plenty of travel and meet lots of interesting people. Longer than a year and I suspect you would begin to feel like a drudge. You'll discover that no-one is really interested in what you have to say or even in speaking to you personally - and there's absolutely no career progression. The anonymous power behind the throne if you like.

Because all of your predecessors have been the same eventually demotivating situation - there will be next to zero documentation on the hotch-potch of electronics you'll be supporting.

I suspect what will happen is that they'll employ someone massively overqualified who will feel like a drudge much earlier than that.

Arcade emulator MAME slips under Apple radar

Greencat

Link (since the article didn't include one)

http://itunes.apple.com/app/imame/id485639079?ls=1&mt=8

Asus Zenbook UX31E

Greencat
Thumb Up

Compared with the Air

This looks like the first PC ultrabook to be as good as (if not better) than my Air. Great job, ASUS. Not a bad price either.

IDC: Google needs DEEP tablet price slash to crack Apple

Greencat
Thumb Up

Peter 48 has it

There are plenty of cheap Android tablets. Price is not the issue. Awareness is.

Also there's a problem with quality and out-of-the-box experience on the Android devices I've tried. I got a Kindle Fire the other week - out of the box it's laggy and has a quirky interface. Plus it has some very strange hardware choices - speakers on the narrow end? A recent update has improved some of that though.

For the average person, they want a device that just works really well rather than one that needs a custom rom and an afternoon of researching to get the best out of it. Then repeat again in 3 months when the next version comes out (if it does). Android market is also a complete mess - plus there are around a dozen competitors.

Sad to say, Apple have the computer as an appliance market well and truly dialed - a good mix of user control, ease of use and price.

I do struggle to understand why other very big companies cannot achieve the same - as well as take Apple on about the control freaky stuff.

Acer Aspire S3 Core i7 Ultrabook

Greencat

Macbook air comparison continued...

The Macbook Air's fan (which rarely comes on) is pretty quiet too. Slower cpu though (i5). Plus almost anything is better than an Acer (I have had two die on me just outside of warranty).

Ten... best Blu-ray movies of 2011

Greencat

Bit early...?

Still have about 10% of the year to go in my neck of the woods. Still if Christmas comes earlier each year, why not year's best lists.

Otherwise I quite like the unashamedly geeky nature of this list.

Apple's iPad not so shiny once you get it home

Greencat

Still find mine useful

I admit I was suckered in by the whole Star trek thing when it first came out - and I've had a on/off relationship with it ever since. It has spent days forgotten about only for me to pick it up and intensively use it (yep still has plenty of battery and springs to life near instantly) for a few hours and then put it down again.

At first I used it for web browsing while the missus was watching TV. It's especially good for following twitter while the xfactor is on. I was often shushed for laughing at the comments being made. Reading comics and most pdfs is far more fun than on Kindle or my laptop too. I doubt there is a better tool for browsing and deleting email.

It is terrible for inputting text (the bluetooth keyboard is a serious drain and the on screen keyboard frustrating for touch typists) but with a Poundland stylus and Noteshelf is a fantastic notetaker. I put all of my handwritten notes into it now (and it's far friendly to take to a meeting than propping open an netbook and furiously typing away). iThoughtsHD is a great mind mapping tool too. Garageband is fun to tinker with as well. I also use it to give the odd presentation to small groups of people.

In Borneo last year I had a magical time with my 5 year old nephew (neither of us speak a word of each other's language) playing with one of the virtual pond apps. My 2 year old nephew in this country also loves the baby games on it.

Is it the best gadget I've ever bought? I doubt it. It's not quite the transparent yet facilitative creative tool I hoped it would be (MS's courier might have been a better bet if it had existed) - but as long as I keep finding new uses for it I'll be happy and it is a very nice toy.

Ten... earphones for mobiles

Greencat

Like looking for the Grail...

All I want is a set of earphones that: stay in ears when running, don't tangle (too much), can survive rain, cost less than 20 quid and last longer than a few months. Any recommendations?

I am never going to spend more than the price of my phone on a set of ear phones that'll probably won't last as long as it does. I'd only consider something that expensive if it came with a lifetime guarantee.

The life and times of Steven Paul Jobs, Part Two

Greencat

Excellent two part series

Great article - and to my mind, balanced. But perhaps that's because I've loved some of Apple's products and hated others. Thought some of Jobs' ideas were astonishingly good and others just meh. I leave the ideological hated (or love) for others. Life is too short.

This Dianamania is a slur on Jobs

Greencat

Dianamania?

Astonishingly I agree with a lot of what Andrew's said. But Dianamania? I don't think so, from my corner of the internets it seems to have mostly died down already. I remember only to well the Diana stuff - seemed to go on for weeks and I turned on the radio to escape it on the TV (only to find every channel on the radio was broadcasting 'live' coverage of her funeral).

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs is dead at 56

Greencat
Thumb Up

RIP Steve

I think the best way to describe his role was as a conductor - he knew how to get the right team around him and motivate them to deliver his vision. And it was a multifaceted vision - produce easy to use good looking stuff, make a ton of money and keep complete control. Sure the technology wasn't always innovative as he claimed and the approach to business was sometimes a tad unethical but somehow the package was often much more than the sum of the parts.

Whatever you think of the resulting products (I loved some of them, hated others) - I think the world is poorer for no longer having Steve in it.

I've used many computers in the last 20 years (Unix, Windows, SGI, Amiga, Mac) - but playing around with using MacDraw for DTP in 93 was when it clicked just how revolutionary computers could be as a creative tool. Before then my only experience had been DOS and WordPerfect - and so a tip of the hat to you, Steve, for providing the initial inspiration.

Amazon revamps E Ink Kindle line

Greencat

Any of these use e-ink...

or are they all LCD displays?

Google feeds patents to HTC for assault on Apple

Greencat
FAIL

Turning into Monty Python

This is getting utterly ridiculous and in the end everyone (except a few lawyers) will be poorer for it.

It's going to stifle innovation and push up costs. The current patent system is like the tech equivalent of derivatives market - only encourages parasites and liable to blow up in your face.

Adobe automates website design for arty Luddites

Greencat
FAIL

They first promised this back in the 90s with Pagemill

And than again with Contribute. It was rubbish then and I expect it still is.

Dell puts gun to Streak 5 tablet, pulls trigger

Greencat
Thumb Down

Perhaps I'm old fashioned...

but surely Dell tested the form factor and device with users and, um, did some market research before launching?

Sony goes slim with the Vaio Z laptop

Greencat

(untitled)

Perhaps I bear a grudge for too long but I won't buy Sony due to being seriously burnt on their supposed support for Windows 2000 on a laptop I bought a couple of months before the OS came out. Took a year for the drivers to appear. Some, like firewire support, never did.

Coupled with a screen that died within six months of purchase (and took a month to get replaced) - Sony are neither well supported, good value or good quality.

'Robots can save America', says Obama

Greencat

(untitled)

Not just unskilled jobs that won't exist in 20 years - at lot of what are currently regarded as skilled jobs or professions won't exist either (either due to outsourcing or automation).

At the moment, we have the interesting situation where every company is trying to maximise profit through reducing human based costs while conveniently forgetting that without money those humans are no longer customers.

Perhaps nearly all of us will be claiming benefits in the future. If that's the case, there had better be something better to watch on daytime TV.

Dixons warns it's getting worse

Greencat

No fan but...

I think PCWorld may have actually got a little better. I went in there last week to buy an external hard drive. The price was pretty close to Amazon's, I didn't get harassed or have to queue for a long time and I was out in 5 minutes. They even gave me a 5% discount voucher for next time.

Dixons/Currys still horrible though.

I can't help wondering if part of the real story here is the ridiculous price of property to buy or rent, commercial or domestic in this country.

So, what's the best sci-fi film never made?

Greencat

Stars my Destination

Supposed to be due out in 2012 though...

Men at Work lose Down Under plagiarism appeal

Greencat
Grenade

earworm

@jake - they say the best cure for an earworm is another. How about "We buy anycar dot com..."

Mind mapping for IT pros

Greencat

Another vote for....

...Freemind. iThoughtsHD on an iPad is rather nice too.

Beeb to show unseen interview with Dr Who theme creator

Greencat
Thumb Up

Delia

Delia was a musical genius who unfortunately was only just starting to get recognised again towards the end of her life. Only wish I'd had the chance to meet her as she always comes across as quirky and passionate in her interviews.

HMRC gets it wrong on one in ten personal records

Greencat
Unhappy

Quelle surprise

Around 10 years ago - I somehow morphed into two people in the HMRC database (one with the correct first/surname combination and the second with them reversed). It took several years for them to realise - when they decided to find out why my mirror identity had never responded to any of their letters and hassled my last employer.

It took several phone calls and letters to get it sorted as their presumption was that I was somehow at fault.

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