* Posts by ChrisC

452 posts • joined 2 Jul 2009

Page:

Second-hand connected car data drama could be a GDPR minefield

ChrisC

Re: Almost as good as The Dartford Crossing....

I had this exact problem when I bought my last car, went to add it to my Dart Charge account only to have it rejected due to being assigned to another account - absolutely no way (just as it should be) to have the same registration assigned to multiple accounts. Contacted Dart who said it'd be no trouble to remove it from that account just as soon as I could send them a copy of the V5 in my name...

As I was planning to use the crossing a couple of days later, waiting for the DVLA to get their ducks in a row and send me out the new V5 wasn't exactly an option, so I was considering simply driving t'other way around the M25 to get into Kent, when I then started having a look through the various bits of old service history paperwork that'd been left in the car. A-HA! Garage receipt from a few months prior to the car having been sold, complete with mobile phone number of the previous owner. One quick text later and the car had been removed from their Dart account and I could add it to mine without any further hassle.

11
0

ZX Spectrum Vega+ blows a FUSE: It runs open-source emulator

ChrisC

What's in a name...

"the Vega+ is the flagship product of Retro Computers Ltd"

If only someone in RCL had done a spot of historical research into early 1600's Sweden, they'd have known that giving their flagship a 4 letter name starting with V and ending in A might not turn out too well for them... Vasa, Vega, let's call the whole thing off.

14
0

Brit comms providers told: You must tell people when their cheap contract's about to end

ChrisC

Re: Not on the best deal

"My gripe with the various organisations saying the public could save £X million a year by swapping to the cheapest provider misses the important point that I may not want to be with the cheapest provider."

This is a valid point when considering the independent organisations set up to help people compare and switch to deals across different providers, but I don't think that's what's being talked about here - this sounds more like requiring comms providers to do much the same thing that energy companies do, and let their customers know if, at the end of their current contract, they'd be able to save money *with that same provider* by switching to a different contract.

So e.g. for a phone company, if you'd taken out a standard phone+airtime contract, the provider would then be obliged to let you know at the end of that contract what the cheapest option would be for you to remain with that provider without any changes to your existing service - i.e. keeping the same phone as you've now just finished paying for, what would be the cheapest deal which would still give you at least the same talk/data allowances as you're currently receiving.

If, like the energy companies, the comms providers also had to add in a note along the lines of "better deals may be available from other providers", then fair enough, but it'd then be up to the customer to go investigate these other providers - this initial notice to let you know you were paying above the odds wouldn't explicitly recommend switching to anything other than another deal with the same provider.

0
0

Shock Land Rover Discovery: Sellers could meddle with connected cars if not unbound

ChrisC

All recent-ish Jaguars (so I'm presuming the same is true for the LR side of the business) use the touchscreen to control valet mode, rather than having a seperate valet-mode key. You do have to then remember to take the emergency keyblade out of your fob before giving it to the valet though, otherwise resetting the car back to normal mode is trivially easy...

2
0

Declassified files reveal how pre-WW2 Brits smashed Russian crypto

ChrisC

Re: So kids, sometimes recycling is *bad*

"Nonsense. All bits may be recycled. You just need to reuse them in random order."

OK, hands up who else finds it impossible to read this without it sounding exactly like Eric Morecambe?

8
0

The Notch contagion is spreading slower than phone experts thought

ChrisC

Re: Charge by wire

"I've never had a USB port fail - its always the plug that fails by design. I dunno what you're doing with your phones..."

Depends how old the phone is - IIRC in the days of mini-USB it was the socket that tended to fail, which was one of the reasons why micro-USB was redesigned to make the plug the weak point.

Also, micro-USB sockets, like any other uncovered recess on a device which spends significant amounts of time stuffed into a pocket, are far from immune to ending up getting themselves well and truly clogged solid with compacted crud. Again, this might not be a problem if you're in the habit of getting a new phone every year or two, but if you do find yourself hanging onto a phone for longer than this then there's a good chance the build-up of crud will start to reach critical levels, preventing the plug from mating cleanly with the socket.

Annoyingly, unlike lightning sockets where I first encountered this problem, micro-USB sockets are bloody difficult to clean out properly due to the contacts being on that central finger rather than arranged around the edges of the socket - you need a rather thin crud-hoiking-out tool to squeeze past this without causing it to bend alarmingly off to the side, but said tool still needs to be sturdy enough to then be able to make a dent in the layer of crud.

And of course, even if the socket and plug combo is designed so that the socket never clogs up, and the plug always wears out first, the socket is still soldered onto the PCB inside the phone, and will almost always only be held in place by those solder joints - you might get some assistance from the way the phone case wraps around the socket body, but every time you ram a plug into the socket, or yank a plug back out of the socket, you're stressing those joints, and sooner or later they're going to give way. If you're lucky they'll do so in a way which means you can still use the socket so long as the cable is held at just the right angle to push the broken joint back together, but if the break is bad enough then it's a case open repair job...

1
0

By gum, that's chewy: Samsung's NF1 fattens M.2 card capacity with wider gumstick format

ChrisC

"So what does this bring, other than an extra half millimetre?"

When you're trying to squeeze as much as possible onto a PCB, even a fraction of a mm of extra space in the right place can make the difference between your design being achievable within all your current design rules, or only being achievable if you decide to recertify your manufacturing processes to handle the new rules you'd need to bring in, or potentially not being achieveable at all because your current design rules already push your processes to their physical limits.

Or it might alternatively just be Samsung wanting to make a bit of a splash by driving a new form factor through the standards committee, rather than just quietly adopting an existing standard and getting on with the job without any fuss...

0
0

User spent 20 minutes trying to move mouse cursor, without success

ChrisC

Re: Training the trainer

"English language O-level, we had a "teacher" who was borderline-illiterate"

My GCSE IT teacher knew barely enough about computers (and bearing in mind we're talking about BBC micros here, so nothing terribly complex to deal with) to cope with the practical sessions during our course, and wasn't all that much better on the theoretical side of things either. When you're having to explain to your teacher how to load something from floppy disc, it sets the bar pretty low in terms of what you expect them to be able to teach you in return.

That I still ended up getting an A grade (back in the days before all these newfangled starred grades came along to confuddle matters somewhat) says as much about how relatively easy most GCSE subjects were as it does about how much I already knew about the subject...

6
0
ChrisC

Re: Sun optical mice, circa 1985

"Put me right off optical mice for many years"

My experience of the early/mid 90's era optical mice on the Sun workstations at uni had a similar effect on me - couldn't believe just how utterly crap they were compared with even a somewhat gunked-up mechanical mouse, let alone one that was maintained properly, at generating smooth pointer motion, nor just how dead they felt as you moved them across the mousepad. The only mice I hated even more than those were the ergonomic disasters that HP provided with their Unix workstations.

Modern optical mice have at least got the motion accuracy thing sorted, but I do still occasionally find myself missing the subtle tactile clues you used to get from a mechanical mouse as it moved around.

2
0

First A380 flown in anger to be broken up for parts

ChrisC

3-4-3 is the most common seat configuration used on 777, 3-3-3 is a rarity."

Ah, I guess things now have changed for the worse here since I was last winging around the globe on triple sevens - it's now been a couple of years since my last such flight, but back then 3-3-3 still seemed to be the norm for the carriers I was using or potentially could have been using.

3
0
ChrisC

Number6, remember that in the article, the capacity comment was made in the specific context of landing slot availability:

"Boeing will soon just-about-match its capacity with the 777x, challenging the A380’s selling point as the ideal plane for super-busy airports where landing slots are scarce."

i.e. passengers per *airframe*, not per *engine*...

2
0
ChrisC

"Boeing will soon just-about-match its capacity with the 777x"

I'm not sure it will, if you're comparing like for like at least. From what I've read, the proposed capacity increases for the 777 are in a small part down to the fuselage stretch, but in a large part down to the assumption that cattle class will be configured in 3-4-3 form rather than the 3-3-3 typically seen on current 777s. And if you're an A380 operator with similarly little regard for the comfort levels of your cattle class passengers, then a reconfigured 380 will "comfortably" exceed the capacity of even the most densely packed 777...

So it's all well and good Boeing and its fans promoting these larger 777 variants as "jumbo killers", but as long as this claim is based solely on the number of passengers being carried without any reference to the relative levels of comfort said passengers will be provided with, then it's a rather dubious claim to be making. In its current forms, I actually really like the 777 as a longhaul airliner, but I can't say I'd be quite so enthusiastic about getting onboard one that featured a higher density seating plan unless it was for just a short hop of up to 2-3 hours at most (or unless I was flying something other than cattle class).

13
0

Sysadmin's PC-scrub script gave machines a virus, not a wash

ChrisC

Re: a Mac SE FDHD installed as a gate guardian

"DOS - 720K, RISC OS 800K

DOS - 1.44MB, RISC OS 1.6MB"

I see your Archie values and raise you the 880KB / 1.76MB of an Amiga ;-)

2
0

Advanced VPNFilter malware menacing routers worldwide

ChrisC

Re: WTF kind of advice is that for our average person?!

"FFS! What terrible advice! If I do a full reset on my NAS box..."

Is that the advice given by Talos though? Whilst they're saying that this problem affects both routers and NASs, their advice to perform a full reset seems to be aimed *only* at routers.

0
1

The future of radio may well be digital, but it won't survive on DAB

ChrisC

Re: DAB is the only thing that works reliably here

"BTW, El Reg: "FM already uses MPEG audio" (I paraphrase for brevity). WTF??"

Mmm, it took me several parses of that paragraph before I think I figured out that what the author was trying to say is that choosing to use an established technology (DAB's adoption of MPEG audio) isn't necessarily a bad thing, with FM radio then being mentioned as an example of something (specifically something relevant to the context of the article) still in use today which also uses a long-established technology.

So for "There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that – FM has used the same technology for decades, after all.", try re-reading it as "There's nothing intrinsically wrong with that – the technology used for FM radio has remained unchanged for decades, after all."

5
0

Brit ISPs get their marker pens out: Speed advertising's about to change

ChrisC

Re: It's no good BT complaining 'WiFi'

The point here is that, if the customers own equipment is more of a bottleneck than the external connection provided by the ISP, then any evaluation of the actual speeds provided by the ISP really ought to be done at the point where the ISP connection terminates at the customer premises, because from that point on it's out of their control.

And it's not just WiFi connections that can skew the results if measured on a LAN-connected device, even a wired connection can be an unexpected bottleneck if the router you're using isn't up to the job - my old one had gigabit-capable LAN and WAN ports, but the LAN-WAN bridge part of the hardware was limited to around 150-160Mbps, which I only discovered after my VM connection was upgraded from 100 to 200Mbps...

16
0
ChrisC

Re: WiFi

"If we had 1Gb FTTP, if most people were using entirely WiFi then would there be much point?"

Depends how many devices you've got all individually requesting WiFi-sized chunks of your external bandwidth...

19
2

Blighty's super-duper F-35B fighter jets are due to arrive in a few weeks

ChrisC

Re: "Starved of hydro-electric power

"and others of the Road Research Laboratory were equally involved in its development"

Indeed, the RRL were heavily involved in much of the fundamental concept of how effective a bomb would be against a structure if detonated in water next to/up against said structure. One of my former employers was based on the BRE site in Watford, and my jaw quite literally dropped the day I discovered the Moehne dam model nestling in the wooded area next to our building... the footpath running along side it became a regular part of my lunchtime walking route from then on!

I guess the reason Barnes Wallis gets so much of the attention is that, ultimately, he was the person in the right place at the right time to have that initial spark of an idea, combined with the ability (and the assistance of a sizeable team of other equally talented people) to see it through to a finished product. So whilst he wasn't solely responsible for *developing* the bomb, it's not entirely unreasonable to refer to it as having been his *invention*.

20
0
ChrisC

Re: why didnt they..

IIRC from the Paul Brickhill book where the reasons for designing the bomb the way it was were covered in some detail, much of the destructive capability of the Upkeep bomb was due to it exploding whilst in direct contact against the dam wall and also surrounded by water - this caused most of the energy from the explosion to be directed towards the dam, rather than spreading out in all directions, allowing it to be considerably smaller and lighter than would have needed to be the case if you wanted to achieve the same results by dropping a bomb onto the landside of the dam wall.

6
0

I got 257 problems, and they're all open source: Report shines light on Wild West of software

ChrisC

Not really sure how much of the blame for this can be laid fairly at the feet of open source though - failing to apply security patches, failing to change default passwords, failing to adhere to the correct licencing requirements and suchlike aren't problems unique to the OSS world, and as the closing comment in the article quite rightly indicates, developers need to know what they're doing.

30
0

OnePlus smartmobe brand modelled on 'a religion', founder admits

ChrisC

Re: Nice phone but...

Aren't you forgetting that each brand (be it a phone, car etc. manufacturer) typically has its own in-house design style/language which is applied across several versions of its product, and the result of this can be that two essentially identical things (phones, cars etc.) can end up feeling significantly different to use purely because of how those manufacturer-specific design elements fit in with your personal outlook on what said thing ought to look/behave like...

There are some cars I would never buy purely because I don't like how the controls are arranged, even though essentially they're exactly the same cars (engine size, load carrying capabilities etc.) as the ones I would buy, and that's before you start getting into purely trivial stuff like whether you think the car looks nice or not (and yes, shallow as it may sound, there are some cars I'd never buy on that point alone, no matter how close to perfection their interior layout might be).

Same with phones - having spent my entire smartphone-owning life using phones designed by (if not always badged as) HTC, I now find myself struggling to accept how any other type of phone looks or feels in use unless it's so close to how HTC do it that it doesn't matter. Every time my wife or one of the kids asks me to sort out something on their variety of Samsung phones, the difference in how the softkeys are arranged (HTC puts back on the left, Samsung puts it on the right) causes me no end of problems due to my now deeply ingrained muscle memory for where I expect those controls to be, and that's before you then get into all the other tweaks they choose to apply to the stock Android experience - config settings being located in different places, some settings only being available on one or the other phone but not both etc.

2
0

Fixing a printer ended with a dozen fire engines in the car park

ChrisC

Re: Had the fire brigade called to a five star hotel, in Malta....

"we used to put slices of gherkin in the microwaves and get them to spark"

Speaking as a fully paid up member of the Gherkin-less Burger Appreciation Society, I applaud your efforts in helping to rid the world of those vile green slices of pure culinary evil!

24
3

Shining lasers at planes in the UK could now get you up to 5 years in jail

ChrisC

Re: I'm confused... like Paris...

Depends how high/fast the aircraft is, and what their path is relative to your position. Also remember that the human eye only requires an incredibly short exposure to laser light to be affected temporarily or permanently, so even just randomly waving a laser pointer around the sky will, sooner or later, bag you a strike on a cockpit window, and even if it only lasts a fraction of a second it's enough.

And whilst pilot dazzle gets the big headlines here, let's not forget that the law also applies to idiots who think it's "just a bit of a laff, innit" to shine lasers at people in control of other types of vehicle as well - we just tend not to hear so much about the problems of car/bus/HGV/train etc. drivers being targetted by laser-wielding pondlife in the same way as when it happens to aircrew, but make no mistake, it does happen...

6
0

Wanted that Windows 10 update but have an Intel SSD? Computer says no

ChrisC

Re: Looks like we have an MS fanboy

Naah, whilst I may not have have much admiration for Gates or Ballmer back in the day, I get the feeling they were far more in tune with what the OS meant to PC users than SatNad will ever hope to be, and that they'd be feeling a bit narked at how much damage is now being done to the reputation of Windows, so would find it hard to justify downvoting comments like these. SatNad OTOH, yes, I can all too easily imagine him sat quietly in his office, seething with rage at the thoughts of so many people completely failing to get onboard with his masterplan for Windows, clicking away on the downvote buttons every chance he gets...

When I now find myself looking back on the Gates/Ballmer era I realise just how good we had it back then in comparison to today, and how good, relatively speaking compared with SatNad, they were to us as end users of their products. Windows was still something of an unholy mess, but at least when stuff got changed it largely seemed to be for the right reasons, and there was still a sense that MS under their leadership understood that the OS wasn't really something to be tinkered with on a whim.

I find it really difficult to believe that SatNad has that same level of comprehension, therefore can't get why so many of us feel rightly miffed every time the sodding W10 update screen pops up and our hearts sink as we wonder what new mysteries await us once the update process has ended, and therefore has no compulsion to start steering Windows onto a different course to the one it's on right now, headed straight for the largest, most jagged hull-plate ripping, pile of rocks in existence, from where the only way is down...

8
0

Time to ditch the front door key? Nest's new wireless smart lock is surprisingly convenient

ChrisC

"locks that need replacing. why do they need replacing? because they failed?"

Umm, yes. Why would you expect a mechanical device which is left exposed to the elements and is almost certainly never given any sort of maintenance, not to fail at some point?

And then there's the rather healthy business of selling new locks to people who've just moved house and would prefer not to trust that all copies of the existing keys are now in their hands, people who've extended their homes and now have new exterior doors in need of securing, people who've lost a door key somewhere and would prefer not to hope that it's either never ever found or is only ever found by someone sufficiently trustworthy to not do anything dodgy with it, people who're replacing older less secure locks with newer ones...

No, can't think of any good reasons why lock companies manage to stay in business, guess they must all be up to no good eh.

36
0

They forked this one up: Microsoft modifies open-source code, blows hole in Windows Defender

ChrisC
FAIL

Re: All code is written by offshore idiots to the lowest price

"This shitty code is in your medical devices, cars, industrial systems, phones and most devices in your homes."

Cobblers. Embedded systems (i.e. pretty much everything you're talking about here) programming is a world apart from desktop/cloud programming - when you know you can't always push out bugfixes to all your existing customers simply by sticking a new binary onto an update server, you do tend to spend far more time making sure the code you do send out the door is as bug free as you can possibly make it.

"But hey - psychopaths are running the companies that make this stuff"

No, they really aren't. At least not on the planet the rest of us are living on. Maybe on your world (you know, the one where your post might actually make any sense) things are different...

4
4

What's silent but violent and costs $250m? Yes, it's Lockheed Martin's super-quiet, supersonic X-plane for NASA

ChrisC

Re: Even if it comes to pass..

"I never got to fly it, to my lasting regret."

You didn't miss out on much. Aside from experiencing the relentless shove in the back as it accelerated along the runway. And feeling as if you were lying flat on your back as it climbed skywards, still accelerating like nothing else the civil aviation world has given us. And seeing the mach indicator tick over to 2.00 whilst gliding along so smoothly it felt unreal. And looking at a deeper darker blue sky than I've ever seen out of an airliner window (aside from whilst playing with the LCD window shades on a Dreamliner). And being plied with more champagne in the course of 90 minutes than I've ever drunk in the rest of my near 45 years on this planet...

...sorry, this probably isn't helping. To redress the balance, I should point out that the cabin was rather cramped, the inflight entertainment system was a pile of tosh, and... umm... no, sorry, I cannot lie. It was truly one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life, right up there with watching a shuttle launch, getting married and seeing my kids being born.

22
0
ChrisC

Re: SIG!

"What, by fitting rubber mats as spall liners inside the tanks like British Airways did, even though it added a significant amount of weight and therefore increased fuels costs? Apparently a few BA Concordes suffered wing strikes but the liners did their jobs and the aircraft survived. Unlike Air France who decided the bottom line was more important."

Umm, are you quite sure you've got your timelines the right way around here? BA fitted tank liners as a direct response to the AF crash.

"Not quite sure which part of Arabia was crossed when flying across the Atlantic between Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle and John F Kennedy airports though..."

Probably that bit of Arabia either crossed whilst flying into Bahrain, or whilst transiting through the area en route to Singapore... The history of Concorde operations is far more interesting than it merely being a rather fast transatlantic business shuttle.

8
0

User fired IT support company for a 'typo' that was actually a real word

ChrisC

Re: Away in a manager

"It's Friday, so I'll bite. Vi, always vi."

Ah, the joy of six...

7
0

User asked why CTRL-ALT-DEL restarted PC instead of opening apps

ChrisC

Re: Feeling Old...

"we used to have to buy a card specifically to get sound out of a computer"

Depending on how far back you want to go, you can also add to that:

"having to buy a card specifically to hook up a hard drive"

"having to buy a card specifically to hook up a CD-ROM drive"

"having to buy a card specifically to hook up a joystick"

etc. etc.

And then having bought all those cards and worked up a sweat getting them all physically installed OK (how I never snapped a motherboard in half whilst trying to get some of the larger ISA cards seated properly in their slots I'll never know), you then had the hours of enjoyment figuring out exactly how to get them all configured in a way that manages, somehow, to avoid IRQ conflicts...

21
0
ChrisC

Re: Feeling Old...

"I still remember my local computer shop forcing anyone who wanted to buy Wing Commander II to rattle off their system specs before he would sell it to them, because so many folks returned it complaining it wouldn't run at any decent speed on a 286"

I remember something similar happening to me when I bought SimCity 2000 for the Amiga, and even on a high-end setup like a 4K/060 with gobs of RAM it was still only just about bearable, so the warnings were entirely justified.

I think it was only my desire to show some support for a publisher who was still willing to release Amiga titles at a time when many were getting out of the market that made me still buy the Amiga version rather than the Mac version to run under emulation (which would have then taken full advantage of the RTG card in my 4K, something the native Amiga version sadly couldn't do, hence the performance issues)...

2
0

Windows 10 to force you to use Edge, even if it isn't default browser

ChrisC

Re: Do the right thing

"It's with whom I live not who I live with"

Ah, so it was you I saw leaving my Aunt's house the other day...

4
0

Office junior had one job: Tearing perforated bits off tractor-feed dot matrix printer paper

ChrisC

Re: spirit duplcator sensory memories

Oh, on the scale of one to "WTF were they thinking when they allowed this sort of stuff to be done by students", I'd suggest that the risks of getting nicely high on Banda fumes (which I too remember with a mixture of fondness and sadness - my late mum was a teacher and would often bring home the Banda machine during school holidays so she could prepare her teaching materials for the next term) pale into insignificance compared with some of the other things schoolkids were expected to do...

* carving expanded polystyrene using hot wire cutters (and the "hot" in their name wasn't just for show - you only touched the bare wire once before learning to treat it with respect!)

* cutting paper on a safety-guard-less lever-action guillotine

* drilling/cutting/shaping/etc bits of wood, metal and plastic using the variety of workshop machines which at best might have at least heard about this new-fangled thing called H&S, and even occasionally might have done something about it like having a safety guard retrofitted so badly that it was still entirely possible for a kiddie-sized finger to quite easily have an encounter with a sharp spinny thing

* pretty much anything to do with chemistry practicals...

And then there were the "after school but not actually after school" activities we used to do in 6th form inbetween lessons, one of which was run by a teacher with a passion for model rocketry and making home-made explosives. God only knows how he got away with some of the stuff we did then (whilst H&S wasn't such a hot topic back in the 80s/early 90s, the threat of IRA and other Euro-terrorist action was certainly not to be taken lightly), but being given the chance to do some real hands on science and engineering beyond just the somewhat contrived examples required as part of our practical coursework was one of the many highlights of my time as a 6th former.

Kids today eh, don't know what they're missing out on :-)

23
0

Maplin shutdown sale prices still HIGHER than rivals

ChrisC

"It's probably because the liquidation sales are more about getting money back for the creditors"

In principle, yes. Personal experience of the process from the perspective of an employee of a company that went through the liquidation process a few years ago suggests that in reality, the administrators will do whatever they can to bring funds into the company in order to pay themselves as much as they can get away with extracting from the corpse, and any monies left over at the end of the process are just a rounding error not worthy of further thought or mention.

Leaving aside the whole question mark over paying what amounts to full "normal" prices for stuff from a liquidated retailer in this particular case, my personal distrust of administrators means I'd be loathe to spend any of my money at any company in administration, because in the back of my mind there'd always be that thought that all I was doing was padding out the administrators next expenses claim rather than providing some much needed funds to help pay any of the people genuinely owed money by the company...

2
0
ChrisC

Re: shock horror

"that charges more for the same goods"

Significantly more in many cases, which was the real issue here. Bricks and mortar stores *can* survive in this brave new world of online retailing if they adapt to the environment in which they're now operating, rather than continuing to cling onto some outdated notion that just because they've got a physical presence it gives them the right to gouge customers on price.

And the sad thing about Maplin is that, sometimes, they got it absolutely spot on. As I've mentioned in other posts on this topic over recent weeks/months, I was quite happy to spend my hard-earned in Maplin when their prices were competitive (and by this I don't necessarily mean equal to what Amazon et al would charge - I'm happy to pay a reasonable premium for the ability to buy something I want/need right there and then), and various parts of our household IT setup came from them. Either their prices were within that "a bit above online but still within reasonable limits" band where I was happy to pay the "get it right now" premium, or their prices were so close to the online price (usually in the post-Christmas sales when they'd do some really good deals on things like external drives) that you'd have had to have been the tightest penny-pinching scrooge who ever walked the planet to have still bought online.

The problem was that, for a lot of their stuff, the prices were just so far removed from anything resembling sanity that it not only turned people away from buying *those* items, but in the process of them then searching for a better deal elsewhere they'd then learn that pretty much everything else Maplin sold could be found cheaper elsewhere too, even the stuff which was genuinely reasonably priced and might on its own not have encouraged customers to look elsewhere.

And the whole descent into gadget shop hell didn't help either - alienating their existing customers by relegating them to feeling like second-class shoppers forced to delve into the far depths of the store to find what remained of the "original" Maplin, whilst trying to tempt the bright young crowd in with shiny shiny tat. A bright young crowd who, by and large, probably already spent a significant amount of time buying stuff online and who'd therefore be an even harder audience to sell overpriced stuff to just on the notion that they could walk away with it there and then instead of having to wait a whole 24 hours to get it Primed to them...

Sigh :-(

2
0

Rant launches Eric Raymond's next project: open-source the UPS

ChrisC

Re: Designed by programmers

"Just look at old devices which were made back when you actually had the firmware designed by hw engineers."

This is still how it's done in a lot of engineering companies :-)

0
0
ChrisC

Re: Designed by programmers

"Examples of crappy hw-engineer-designed software are legion but here area few I've suffered from recently:"

There are equally just as many godawful examples of programmer-led software releases - no self-respecting engineer would have allowed stuff like Lotus Notes or the Windows version of iTunes to escape the development labs... Speaking as an embedded systems engineer, I know I can't write front-end code which is as elegant or as pleasing to use as stuff produced by even a half-decent programmer, but what I do know is that whatever I write will at least bloody well work the way the documentation says it'll work, and it won't chew its way through all of the available system resources in the process.

And as for "uploading the wrong firmware to your device may render it inoperable" - when you see a warning like that it means the user is at least being given the choice whether or not to perform the update. Where was the user choice when MS decided to push out buggy W10 updates which turned a whole bunch of PCs into paperweights? Yes yes, recovering a PC is generally a bit easier than recovering an embedded device provided you've got recovery media to hand, know how to use it, and have the time and energy to devote to the process, but that's still no excuse for forcing an update onto a user if you're not 100% certain it'll leave their system in a fully functional state after the update has been applied.

There are some truly talented programmers out there whos abilities I'm genuinely in awe of. Unfortunately, most of the software we use in our day to day lives isn't written by people like these, and it shows...

5
0
ChrisC

Having a UPS that replicates the ATX interface is an interesting idea, and could work nicely for headless systems (such as servers) where you only need to maintain power to the PC itself. But for SOHO type applications, I'm not sure too many users would be happy if their monitor suddenly went dark each time the UPS kicked in even for just a few seconds...

8
1
ChrisC

Re: Comparison to guard dogs

Remind me to never, ever, go UPS shopping with you... In the getting on for 2 decades that I've had a UPS protecting my PC at home (ever since a couple of seconds of brownout caused me to then waste several hours of my life reinstalling Windows due to the brownout occurring whilst it was in the middle of writing to something slightly critical such that it couldn't even reach the desktop in safe mode), I've never had a problem with either of the units I've used.

Yes. Either of them. Nearly 20 years of faultless service from just two different UPSs (both from the APC stable), and the only reason I retired the first one was because it couldn't cope with the increasing power demands of my newer system. The only maintenance I've had to do on either of them was feeding them with replacement batteries every so often, but other than that they've just sat there doing exactly what they're supposed to do, and in all the times they've intervened to keep my PC up and running through brief brownouts, or enabled me to shut down cleanly during longer duration blackouts, I've not once suffered data loss/corruption.

So for me, the ability to just keep on working without in some cases even being aware of the brownout, or to be able to resume working as soon as the power is restored without having to spend hours recovering the system into a working state again, is worth every penny I've spent (which isn't all that much in total, let alone averaged out over all these years) on these units.

4
0

Your mouse can't reach that Excel cell? Buy a 'desk extender' said help desk bluffer

ChrisC

Re: School Days

Yep, even if you kept the rollers clean (and what a strangely satisfying job that was too - was it just me who played the game of "try to peel all the compressed crud off the roller into a single long strip"?), the only way to deal with all the other crap that got picked up by the mouse and thrown into the innards of the mouse shell was to crack it completely open and give it a good clean out every so often.

Annoyingly, despite the move to optical mice rendering ball and roller cleaning just a footnote in the historical record of computing, the growing trend to add scrollwheels and other mechanical gubbins elsewhere on the mouse body now means we STILL have the same problems of crap getting inside the shell and slowly building up to critical levels. I'm getting quite adept now at opening up the shell of my trusty old MX510 to give the scrollwheel mechanism a good clean out and restore smooth operation for another year or two...

9
0

Copper feel, fibre it ain't: Ads regulator could face court for playing hard and fast with definitions

ChrisC

Re: Plain english says the review should succeed.

"Once demanding users understand that copper is like a trip to Ikea, they will want Full-Fibre."

B..but, what if you want meatballs???

4
0
ChrisC

Re: Fibre vs Copper

"I have yet to see a residential Fibre network that is glass all of the way to the computer. They *ALL* convert to copper or wireless at some point as part of distribution and as such every one of them is still a hybrid system."

But even with a fibre connection to the back of the computer, the probability of there not then being a fibre-copper conversion occurring within the computer itself is so vanishingly small as to be practically non-existent. So given that, for pretty much every consumer/business-grade connection, there will be a fibre-copper conversion *somewhere* between the ISP and end user equipment, where do you draw the line and say that if it's converted over *there* then it's too far away to be classed as a full fibre connection, whereas if it's converted over *here* then it's close enough?

In the context of this advertising-based complaint, I'd suggest that if the ISP provides a pure fibre connection all the way to the termination point at the customer premises, then that'd be the point at which you say their responsibility ends, and therefore there shouldn't be any cause for argument if they choose to advertise their product as being pure/full/100% fibre etc.

8
1

Reg man wraps head in 49-inch curved monitor

ChrisC

Re: Does this simulate multiple windows?

"One of the benefits of using multiple monitors"

Another benefit is the ability to drop back down to a (n-1) setup if one of the screens/cables/video ports goes on the blink.

Yes, I can see the allure of having a seamless display like this, but the drawbacks (single point of failure, requirement for a single video card capable of driving such a huge display, inflexibility of where you can locate the thing etc.) far outweigh the benefits IMO even before you consider the huge price premium you're having to pay.

2
0

RIP... almost: Brit high street gadget shack Maplin Electronics

ChrisC

Re: Well at least

Count me in as another member of the "mixed feelings brigade" - almost certainly still got my old battered copy of the catalogue, that acted as my IC reference manual throughout my school electronics lessons, tucked away in the loft somewhere, and there's plenty of other stuff dotted around the house (some still in everyday use like the CCTV system) which came from Maplins.

In the good old days when their only real competition was Tandy/Radio Shack, they were genuinely a decent retailer, and even as they started their transformation into a seller of cheap (to make, though alas not to buy) tat with all the good stuff pushed ever further off to the far flung depths of the store, you could still get some decent stuff at decent prices if you were just prepared to wait a while - the aforementioned CCTV system was on offer for a price entirely comparable with the best we could find online, making it a no-brainer to buy it off the shelf from our local store rather than some unknown online store, and I've picked up a few hard drives over the years which were also comparable in price (certainly by the time you took into account how much next day delivery would have added to the online price - when you *need* a new drive ASAP, you don't want to be waiting best part of a week for standard delivery...).

However, the last time I recall needing to buy something (replacement SLA battery for the house alarm system) where they came first to mind as a likely supplier, I took one look at the price listed on their website and thought "you have GOT to be kidding me!". Given it wasn't an urgent replacement I was then quite willing to get it online, but as I was searching for other suppliers, up popped Screwfix. Never crossed my mind they might sell batteries (at least not this type), but sure enough it was exactly what I was after, and at a price which was entirely reasonable, so half an hour later I was back home with the new battery... So if a retailer like Screwfix can keep their heads above water offering products at decept prices whilst operating physical stores of comparable sizes and locations to the out of town Maplins, why couldn't Maplins do it themselves?

40
1

Full shift to electric vans would melt Royal Mail's London hub, MPs told

ChrisC

Re: Hmmm

"I'd love a Tesla model S with a V8 instead of the electric drive."

I'd love a Tesla model S (or indeed *any* of their lineup) with the electric drivetrain married to a cabin interior designed by someone who doesn't subscribe to the "less is more, so much more" philosophy which seems to have infected Tesla. If I can't instinctively reach out and find all the important and/or oft-used controls just by a combination of muscle memory and touch alone, then I don't want to know.

So I applaud Tesla for helping to bring high performance long range EVs into the minds of the general public, but when the time comes for me to eventually make the switch away from ICE to electric, I suspect it'll be to one of the more established manufacturers who seem to have a far better understanding about how to design a car around the driver, rather than around the technology...

23
1

Crunch time: Maplin in talks to sell the business

ChrisC

Re: But seeing in store

For things like white (in name at least, if not in actual colour these days) goods, being able to poke and prod at the controls (for stuff like dishwashers, microwaves etc. which have them), opening the doors and checking what the storage arrangement is like inside (fridges, freezers), checking how much space is required around the unit itself to do things like open the doors (e.g. could you have the unit hard up against a wall, or does the door overhang the side of the unit when opened), even just down to exactly what shade of white/grey/brushed metal/etc it is under real world lighting conditions as opposed to the carefully styled photoshoots used by some online stores. can still be quite important details to determine for some people, but how many online retailers bother going into sufficient detail with their product information to let you figure all of this out remotely?

10
0

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

ChrisC

Re: Adding a Print Button

"many many many meetings with many many many people and outside researchers on where to stick it."

ObHHGTTH: Up your nose, perhaps...

3
0

KFC: Enemy of waistlines, AI, arteries and logistics software

ChrisC

"Or one I saw a few months ago: "Stop" became "Squat". I wonder how the car would react to "Squat"?"

Depends whether or not you paid the extra for the air suspension upgrade...

3
0

Bloke sues Microsoft: Give me $600m – or my copy of Windows 7 back

ChrisC

Re: "Tinkering with WINE"

"Here's what I've found: pretty much every app I use on this Windows box is primarily a Linux app ported to Windows, or in some cases an app that was multiplatform from the start."

Yes, I'm much the same here - the majority of the productivity software installed on my PC is opensource and almost entirely multi-platform, and of the minority of commercial/Windows-only stuff, there's only one thing I've bought for myself, the rest is stuff my employer has provided to enable me to work from home as and when the mood takes me.

A few years ago I'd also have had a reasonable collection of Windows games installed too, but I've pretty much given up on PC gaming now with the exception of some casual "5 minutes to spare" stuff (which, again, is mostly open source/multi-platform), with my infrequent serious gaming sessions now provided for by the collection of Wii(U)'s and PS3/4's dotted around the house thanks to it also being home to a couple of gaming crazy kids :-)

So yeah, each time I see the latest stunt being pulled by MS, the closer I find myself getting to reaching the tipping point where the pain of having to nuke from orbit and start afresh with Linux, with the attendant learning curve required to get back to the same position of familiarity as I currently enjoy with W7, will be easier to bear than having to put up with Windows as my primary OS any longer. Undoubtedly I'd then whack W7 onto a VM so that I could continue to have access to those work apps, but the thought of then being able to drop out of that VM into an environment that respects me as the owner of the PC on which it's being allowed to run, rather than being treated ever increasingly like a resource for Microsoft to use as they see fit, is becoming far more appealing.

I'll most likely stick with W7 for as long as I can - it does everything I need it to do, in an environment that I still largely feel in control of - but sooner or later the time will almost certainly come when my primary OS is no longer Windows. Unless MS do a complete 180 and go back to releasing OSs in the style of 7... And in other news today, Heathrow announced plans for a new terminal to cater for the sudden increase in demand for flights from the porcine community ;-)

"As for WINE, frankly I've never really seen the point, except as a purely academic exercise. Windows is "free" in the sense that it comes preinstalled on every PC ever built"

Umm, not quite. It is possible to buy prebuilt PCs with no Windows licence, and I've yet to find a copy of Windows preinstalled on any of the PCs I've built for myself over the years...

12
1
ChrisC

Re: Don't forget to sue them for time lost...

a) if his PC was truly borked by the W10 "upgrade", then he wouldn't get very far trying to install anything else to persuade it to behave more like the PC he was used to

and

b) thanks to the most recent round of "improvements" in W10, Classic Shell is no longer in development and there's no guarantees as to how long it'll continue working as MS continue to fiddle with stuff that CS hooks into...

24
1

Page:

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018