* Posts by Buzzword

901 posts • joined 30 Jun 2010

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Brit expats aghast as Denmark bans Marmite

Buzzword
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Yes

Click through to the Guardian link in the article, and you'll find this telling phrase:

"Food giant Kellogg's withdrew some brands of breakfast cereal from Denmark when the legislation passed in 2004."

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Opera rolls new Mini onto iPhone and iPad

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Sing the good news!

Opera Mini is absolutely essential for web surfing on 2G or 2.5G (Edge) connections.

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O2's southeastern crash caused by 'well-organised theft'

Buzzword
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Any relation to recent events....

... in Libya? There aren't many other places in the world where a lorry-load of stolen mobile network gear would be useful, surely?

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Scala daddy wraps his Java baby in Red Hat-ness

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Thanks

Thanks for the useful answers!

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Train firm offers phone-based ticketing across UK

Buzzword
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Great idea, but...

What happens when the battery runs out? At the end of a long day-trip from Warwick to London, your fancy smartphone is likely to have run out of juice. It's not like the conductor can just swap in a new battery. Even plugging it in isn't an option - it takes 5-10 minutes for my 3GS to become usable after plugging it in - far too long for a train conductor to wait.

Good to see J2ME devices covered though - they typically have a battery life measured in weeks, not hours!

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Cable thieves cost UK rail £15m a year

Buzzword
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Gardens?

Why do you have large quantities of copper wire in your back garden?

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Whitehats break out of Google Chrome sandbox

Buzzword
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There's more than one government

That's only a good thing if you consider government to be good. What if the buyer is the CIA? Or the Chinese government? Or Mossad?

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Boffins herald end of stiff screens

Buzzword
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Not all e-ink screens are born equal

Video looks terrible in this example, but the up-and-coming Qualcomm Mirasol e-ink display appears to offer the full colour and smooth video of LCD while retaining the battery life and sunlight-readable quality of e-ink.

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Janet 3G to go live in June

Buzzword
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With luck

Essentially it's just a group bargaining deal with one or more existing mobile networks. If the negotiated tariffs are made public, then it gives the rest of us a bargaining chip when haggling with the networks. "Hey you gave my local university a £3/month deal, surely you can do something similar for me?" Failing that, tap up a pal with a .ac.uk email address.

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Private investors pile into data centres

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WTF?

Planning permission in the greenbelt

Funny how you can easily get planning permission to build a whopping great office park, a data centre, or a Tesco's in supposed green-belt areas like Chesham. But if you try building one extra house you're told it would "devastate the local community and put unbearable pressure on local services".

Tory councils: looking out for the best interests of homeowners and big busines, never mind the rest.

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Kindle beats Apple's closed book on choice

Buzzword
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Kindle reader

"On their Android device. On their iOS device. Even on their PC."

How many Kindle users are actually reading on multiple devices though? The Kindle reader device itself is far and away the most popular e-book platform. People simply don't want to read novels on their smartphones. Lighting the screen all day will quickly drain the battery on an iPhone and there are too many distractions - another round of Angry Birds, or a quick browse through status updates on Twitface. The Kindle's advantage is the absence of distractions or interruptions. It does one job and it does it very well (and at a great price).

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Microsoft markets 'collection' of PCs to consider

Buzzword
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Desktops?

They're nearly all laptops. There are a couple of all-in-ones for "entertainment" and a couple of desktops for gaming, but no bog standard desktops. That's a shame considering how much cheaper a desktop can be.

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Dear Facebook: your privacy sucks

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Agreed

Quite right. Why on earth would you put HTTPS on something that is not private?

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'Fierce competition' drives Apple's iPhone 6 changes

Buzzword
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Looking dated

The iPhone's 3.5" screen is looking rather dated, compared with competitors' 4" and higher screens. The retina display is all very nice but the high resolution is almost wasted on such a comparatively small screen. If the iPhone 5 doesn't get a larger screen, I might just jump to the Android or WinPh7 camps.

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UK is 15th best place in the world to do IT

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London != UK

It would be interesting to see where London (and the south-east) would rank if it was included as a separate entity from the UK. For a company choosing to relocate or opening a European office, the choice of specific city is at least as important as the choice of country.

See also Richard Florida's seminal article "The World Is Spiky".

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Open source and the sluggish UK public sector

Buzzword
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Smaller, £100m-sized chunks

Is it just me or is a £100m-sized chunk still rather hefty?

In my experience, the biggest potential gains from Open Source are in the local government sector. At the moment there are several hundred local authorities, all given the same instructions from central gov, then each going out to different suppliers to procure software. It's a bonanza for the companies involved, but poor value for government.

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The BBC struggles with concept of 'tech bubble'

Buzzword
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Some notable successes though

"Many of the start-ups are simply third-party add-ons to Facebook...."

What about popular Facebook add-ons such as FarmVille and FishWorld? These are made by Zynga, a rather profitable company. Clearly there's a long tail of unprofitable companies, but that doesn't mean all investors are wrong.

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The new killer app is … MMS

Buzzword
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FAIL

How much?!

It costs between 25p and 40p to send a picture message in the UK. They aren't usually included in allowances either. I can send an email or a Facebook photo for free (using my monthly data allowance); but the 30p MMS charge is enough to put me off. Even if I personally don't care about the cost, the other party might not want to reply via MMS because of the cost.

Besides, there's the argument that smartphone owners are (a) richer and (b) more likely to splash money on the latest shiny toys. That makes them a golden target for advertisers.

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Commodore 64 revivalist posts prototype PC pics

Buzzword
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WTF?

Just one question.....

Why bother?

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Photoshopped image scam used in rogue Facebook app trap

Buzzword
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Boffin

No malware is getting spread....

This is a perfect example of a Cloud Virus. How long will it be before we see the equivalent of Word macro viruses spreading through Google Docs?

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Fuel foolery, merger warnings and Budgetary boons

Buzzword
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Yes

If employers' NI was merged into income tax, then legislation would be required to force employers to pass on the difference. Otherwise they'll just try to get away with it. The minimum wage would also have to rise to match.

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Privacy group demands answers from Skype

Buzzword
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Boffin

China, dodgy internet cafes

HTTPS doesn't protect you from a compromised download repository. What it protects against is a man-in-the-middle attack. If you travel to China and want to download Skype while you're there, how do you know that www.skype.com in China isn't being secretly redirected to their own spyware-infected variant?

Think what happens when you try to connect to the internet in an airport or in Starbucks. You connect ok, no wifi password needed. Then you go to www.google.com and hey presto you're redirected to the hotspot payment page. Worse still, you might think you're connecting to the internet in Starbucks when in fact you're connecting to the wifi network provided by the C.I.A. van parked outside. Before you know it you've downloaded a bugged copy of Skype and your terrorism plans / freedom-fighting plans are ruined.

Looking at the URL doesn't protect you if you can't trust the network operator. The operator can serve up whatever they want, without telling you. Only HTTPS can protect against this kind of attack.

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Fukushima update: No chance cooling fuel can breach vessels

Buzzword
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Terminator

Comparison with other energy sources?

Lewis,

The obvious figure missing is the comparison with other energy sources. What is the rate of deaths-per-megawatt for coal, gas, oil, wind, hydro, etc.? What would be the increase in death rate if we used less electricty and thus had darker streets and colder homes?

(*Also tally cancers-per-megawatt, birth defects-per-megawatt, etc.)

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Asus Eee Pad Slider

Buzzword
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Go

Yes

I like this. Tablets like the iPad just aren't productive enough - they're a chore for composing emails or editing code. After a couple of years with a smartphone, fondling the screen feels natural; to the point where I sometimes forget and tap links on my laptop's screen too. At that price I like even more. Not sure if Android covers all my use cases; but it should be easy enough to flash it with a Linux distro.

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Data-mining technique outs authors of anonymous email

Buzzword
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FAIL

Burden of proof

"Reliable enough to be used in courts of law.... the technique identified the author about 80 percent of the time."

80% is reliable enough for a court of law? *despair*

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Welsh baby-kisser's tweet sets him back £53k

Buzzword
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Stop

Nice little gravy train

£50,000 legal costs for a £3,000 defamation award? That's absurd. It should have gone to the Small Claims Court. The legal system is turning into a money-making scheme for those on the inside. Simplify the process and cut out the wasteful steps.

My job involves improving business processes through proper use of IT. Often it's clear that the problem lies in the business process, not in the software. The UK's legal system is one business process which needs to be drastically simplified.

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Museum readies touch-tastic retro comms gear hands-on

Buzzword
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Alert

Warning next time

An NSFW warning wouldn't go amiss here.... (yes I work with prudes)

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Turkey bans Google Blogger over pirated football feeds

Buzzword
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WTF?

Blogger supports streaming?

If I'm not mistaken, Blogger doesn't support streaming. At worst the offending blogs simply contain <embed> tags pointing to the real rogues. Shame the courts don't understand this.

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Chemists create current-bearing plastic

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Copper thefts

Does this mean the end of expensive copper cable thefts from railways and telephone lines? More generally, is the high price of copper set to tumble once this becomes widely available?

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Council loses USB of patient records

Buzzword
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Go

Key-fob security

Here's an idea so crazy that it might just work.

Every USB stick issued by the council should have a big heavy key-fob, the kind that some hotels have on their keys to remind you that it's in your pocket. The weight of it should ensure that you don't lose it.

(The weight might have to be on a chain, for desktop PCs where the USB port is some way off the ground. There should be no way to detach the weight - this thing would be soldered into the USB stick.)

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Jacqui Smith 'shocked' to discover we're drowning in sea of porn

Buzzword
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FAIL

Radio 5 Live?

Normally a serious political documentary would be broadcast on Radio 4. Presumably the subject matter was thought to fit better with R5? No wonder Britain has an immature attitude to sex.....

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Microsoft finally says adios to Autorun

Buzzword
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Obvious solution

The obvious solution is to have Windows show a dialog box: "You have inserted a CD / DVD / USB stick. Do you want to run the setup program? (This may make changes to your computer)"

For bona fide application or game install discs, the user would pick yes; otherwise no.

As it stands, when I plug in my digital camera I get the default Windows prompt asking me if I want to run a particular application with it. Seems simple enough.

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Ten... wireless keyboards

Buzzword
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Jobs Horns

Yes, but...

Yes the Apple keyboard works on Windows 64-bit, as long as your Bluetooth driver works on Windows 64-bit (mine's fine). Beware not only the horrific absence of a 'Del' key, but also no Home, End, Page Up, or Page Down. There are ways to fiddle these with Fn+various keys, but if you're a coder or even just a keen copier-and-paster your productivity will tumble.

My UK Apple wireless keyboard has a £pound sign, but the @ and the " are in the US position, i.e. shift-2 is @.

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Xiotech's go-much-faster storage brick

Buzzword
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Boffin

Numbers not adding up

"The hybrid ISE is also a darn sight cheaper on $/GB terms at $14.03"

So a 14.4TB unit should cost ~$200,000 right?

"The 14.4TB Hybrid ISE [...] costs around $99,840"

One of these numbers must be wrong.

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Eyeball camera zooms into focus

Buzzword
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In cold climates....

H2O is the way forward? Maybe in hot countries, but if you take this thing out in sub-zero temperatures you're in for a shock. I'd recommend a liquid with a lower freezing point.

Flame, because it's cold today

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McDonald's breach bares nuggets of customer data

Buzzword
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Terminator

An unmanned firm?

"an unmanned email database management firm"

I know the machines are taking over, but I didn't realise they were already running companies!

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Amazon Kindles cash from Wikileaks

Buzzword
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Jobs Horns

Awaiting approval in the App Store

What about a Wikileaks App for your iFruit or Android device? Will the Jobsian gatekeepers approve?

"Remove all classified information. Not that big of a deal. Steve."

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Ten... dirt-cheap voice phones

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All I want for Christmas is

What I'd really like is a cheap phone with just two features: voice calls and Wifi tethering. Then I could ditch the £499 iPhone and £529 iPad 3G, and replace them with their cheaper siblings, the £189 iPod Touch and/or £429 iPad Wifi.

Before you start shouting Mifi, I don't want a second monthly contract and yet another charger to lug around.

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How much bandwidth will next gen airports need?

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The future is already here

"the use of mobile phones as passenger boarding cards via a 2D bar code sent to the phone"

Several airlines already do this; for example the BA iPhone app.

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MySQL price hikes reveal depth of Oracle's wallet love

Buzzword
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Pint

What about Sun's other free offerings?

OpenOffice looks like another potential cash cow. Microsoft charges >£100 for its office suite; if Oracle positioned OpenOffice as a reliable, professional product rather than as hippy freeware and charged maybe £35 for it, they could gain a lot of business customers.

Beer, because they'll be making a lot of beer-tokens.

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Panasonic TY-CC10W Skype camera

Buzzword
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Stop

Held up to a higher standard?

In yesterday's Reg you published a story about Cisco's new home telepresence device, the "ūmi". It costs $599 plus $24.99 per month, and for now you can only call other Cisco users.

Compared to that, Panasonic's device offers connectivity to the well-established and highly popular Skype network for a third of the price (£130 ~= $205) and no monthly fee. Mac compatibility will arrive "later this year", so considering we're already in October, that means you'll be able to Skype your gran by Christmas.

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Apple TV stripdown reveals mystery solder pads

Buzzword
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Paris Hilton

Additional features unlocked by hacking?

Bluetooth? FM transmitter & receiver? Neither of these are in the official Apple TV specs! I wonder whether the hacker group known as "dev team" will be able to unlock these features; and if so, what use might they be.

Paris, because she too packs a lot of great features in a compact form-factor.

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Universities warn Willetts on science cuts

Buzzword
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Alien

The UK doesn't only offer pay, but high costs and lower living standards

Full-time research & teaching posts pay reasonably well; but basic post-graduate and PhD work is terribly poorly paid.

I wonder if the quality of living affects researchers choices on where to live - five out of the six universities quoted are all based in cities where accommodation is very expensive. An £18k per annum research allowance would barely pay for a one-bedroom flat in inner London. Lots of other things are cheaper in the USA too - food, petrol, clothes - and in most places the weather is brighter than the UK.

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Philips 32PFL9705 Ambilight 32in LED backlit TV

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WTF?

How much?!

It's a nice telly, but what on earth justifies the £1300 price tag? Philips have similar models for half that price. Are the ambilight and internet features really worth an extra £600-700? You could get a cheaper TV and a Mac Mini for that money.

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Orange and T-Mobile splice customers

Buzzword
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Boffin

HD Voice on T-Mobile?

Will Orange's new HD Voice service also be made available to T-Mobile customers?

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LaCie catches ultra-small USB Flash drive bug

Buzzword
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Flame

Brand recognition is worth £5 more

I've heard of Lacie and I've used their products; they're a well-respected brand. I can buy their products from one of several UK-based distributors. Conversely I've never heard of Eagletec, nor have I heard of "Hong Kong-based gadget purveyor Brando". If I was in the market for a tiny 4GB USB drive, I'd choose the Lacie in a flash (pun intended). The reputation of a well-known brand is worth an extra £5 to me.

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Orange goes High Definition

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Black Helicopters

Aha!

France Telecom owns several key patents on AMR-WB (the codec behind HD Voice). France Telecom also owns Orange. So no surprise to see them promoting it.

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Diesels greener than battery cars, says Swiss gov report

Buzzword
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Stop

Particulates and smelliness

Diesel vehicles, even the newer ones, belch out great wafts of smelliness and particulates. These make life in city centres unpleasant, and contribute to health problems. If diesel is so safe, I'd like to see a modern-day John Gummer force his daughter to breathe in diesel fumes for ten minutes.

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Panasonic DMC-G2 interchangeable lens camera

Buzzword
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Boffin

We don't all know the drill yet

Micro Four-Thirds cameras aren't just DSLRs without the R. The sensor size is also quite a bit smaller. That matters for certain effects such as depth-of-field. All things being equal, smaller sensors exhibit more noise. The wikipedia article on "Image sensor format" is a useful primer.

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Apple in the workplace

Buzzword
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Flame

RE: More droppings than a flock of pigeons

Out of the box, Snow Leopard doesn't let you browse through zip files. You have to extract everything. That's fine if you're only dealing with a few small files, but if you have massive archive zips then it takes forever to go through them. It's really annoying if you only need to get one file out. You can buy a $20 app to browse zip files; in fact you can buy $20 apps to fix most Mac annoyances. Or you can just buy a PC with Windows 7 already installed - and it'll be cheaper.

(The other major annoyance is that all current iMacs and MacBooks have glossy screens. If you work during daylight hours or anywhere near a window this causes eyestrain.)

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