* Posts by Stephen Gazard

46 posts • joined 4 Jun 2007

Ten... noise-cancelling headphones

Stephen Gazard
Boffin

Bose Quiet Comfort headphones

what's not mentioned in the review is that they have a 2 year no-quibble worldwide warranty, which includes the cables. If they would have to repair it the headphones within warranty, they will simply replace the headphones with a *new* set. This sold them for me.

Major Facebook redesign, smoothed-off Zuckerberg unveiled

Stephen Gazard
Stop

identity theft

This is great for identity theft. since when do you want your complete birthday posted on a screen that's the first thing a person reads.

Oh, and apparently all your previous locations are there, where you work, so stalking is even easier. I don't give out all that information in a bar, and I know no one who would. He's a little detached from the world

London bike hire scheme suffers pre-launch wobbles

Stephen Gazard
FAIL

The costing is silly

I've worked in a Bike shop, and this seems silly. It simply costs too much to use regularly

£1/day works out at £365 a year (not that hard) and if you use it on a weekly basis for only one hour each of those 52 weeks (call it 50 to give you a holiday of sorts). That's a total of £415 *per year*.

You can get a good commuter bike, lock, lights and helmet, all for that money, and if you want use the cycle to work scheme, an amazingly better one (think spending up to £700 in a shop but only paying ~£400 for it). The servicing/maintenance of the bike is not going to cost £400/year unless you ride into brick walls regularly to damage the bike seriously.

I realise some people won't do the maths, but I would only consider this is I could not store a bike inside, and even in London, you can usually find a place to store a bike.

Better yet, improve your balance and get an adrenaline rush by using roller blades (OK, not for most people on the roads, but it can be done). The storage space is minimal.

For tourists this scheme makes sort of sense, but only if you're a 'casual user' which you can't be now. Not sensibly thought out. Reminds me of oyster cards that initially on PAYG would never activate to a travelcard automatically (I know they do now), which also did not seem sensibly thought out

Sky switches on 3D TV channel in 2010

Stephen Gazard

what if you lie on your side

I remember that the one thing I found annoying with polarised setups is that if you tilt your so that the glasses are not horizontal, then the 3D effect is lost. It's quite annoying especially if you want to lie down to watch TV, or slouch, or have a crick in the neck, or lean up against someone, or tilt your head, or...

Not in my mind a great product. I do remember '3D' screens for laptops which were two screens layered at different resolutions and that had no need for glasses, such as in http://www.direct2u.com.au/html/sharp_3d_laptop.html

No idea how well it works though, and you do need to be in front of it...

Apple tablet unveiling brought forward

Stephen Gazard

10 inches?

perhaps I'm alone here, but a 10 inch screen being 'perfect for watching movies is like saying a laptop is perfect for watching movies. The eyestrain from watching something so close for so long is going to be painful after a while I would have thought.

Not, if they may it a 10" tablet with one of those pico-projectors built in that would be seriously impressive and blow the competition away. That admittedly assumes the pico projectors are good enough already.

Safety wonks condemn digital TV satnav

Stephen Gazard

I know it's a bad idea, but...

everyone assumes that it's to be used by the person driving the car. I can imagine a parent/friend taking one along on the drive while being in the back. Motorway driving gets boring and you help alleviate the boredom to kids by giving them a mobile TV.

The downside? you have to keep under 60mph. But then you could take the A-roads or others and have a bit more fun while having the kids entertained too.

Now, if it could act as a mobile PVR so that you can watch TV in a rest stop, that would be impressive, if overkill

Cartoon lion urges Lancs kids to dob in terrorist classmates

Stephen Gazard
Thumb Down

This is a dangerous thing

OK, so now we're being taught to fear our friends and school mates as terrrorists? then if we suspect anyone, we're to snitch on them? Indoctrination of this kind was something I thought we had managed to leave in America with McCarthyism. This kind of teaching does not breed trust and good relationships, and it's a difficult message to teach even handedly.

The part about drowning, and how to cross the road are part of a kids education, but the above makes me wary

DARPA in useful, easily-achievable project shocker

Stephen Gazard

methinks there's more to it

Perhaps they could be vying to make this more clever, such as getting a fix on other radio signals *before*, and as you move, you can get enough points to plot a location for that [generic] radio source. Then your device maintains a local database of these, and (presuming non-flat terrain) can get a 3D position of you relative to it.

Presumably sensible enough to recognise a signal that is mobile, but then you enter a 'canyon', and have built up a database of known points and a known position beforehand, and can work out the positions of *new* signals relative to the other signals. That means you could enter a really large GPS dead area (but signal rich), and then keep knowing where you all the while. That would be immensely useful and impressive.

iPhone users to walk and read at same time

Stephen Gazard

Pedestrians are bad enough

I'm thinking of those who walk out onto the street without looking while having an MP3 player playing loudly, or just mesmerised in their own thoughts. It's not fun to almost run them over.

While I agree with the 'cool' and 'interesting' comments, I agree much more with the 'stop, look and write emails/messages' gist of comments. Otherwise, we might see a category on Darwin Awards for the most impressive way to get one while using an iphone

Green-laser micro-projectors green-lighted

Stephen Gazard
Boffin

@AC: Isn't it the other way around?

With regards to LEDS, the fabrication of colours was red->green, a very long pause, and then a dim blue (Gallium nitride).

Blue colour from electricity was probably first noted by a guy corresponding with Faraday (http://www.lateralscience.co.uk/sic/index.html), and if that were possible to fashion into a laser the technically the article is correct.

In terms of commercial manufacturing, I don't know, but I thought also that the blue laser was harder to produce

Adobe users imperiled by critical Reader flaw

Stephen Gazard

javascript in adobe, and 'why'

well, people such as HMRC and Companies House make use of it for filing some special returns (annual returns for example), and I think some aspects of tax.

It's done so that calculations such as 1+1 are enabled. I'm sure more than that exists, but that's what I've had experience with. It's been around since version 7.09 (at least). I've not seen anyone moot it until now though...

Apple 24in iMac (March 2009)

Stephen Gazard

@AC: Monitor Ergonomics

"I've never understood this desire to raise the monitor. For correct posture your eyes are supposed to be level with the TOP of the monitor, so that you look down at about 30 degrees. That's standard ergonomics."

Perhaps it is standard ergonimics, but many offices I've been in, especially here in my Uni, are moving towards adjustable monitor heights on the LCD's. All our windows PC's from HP have them. Personally I've got a shorter set of legs for my height, and a taller upper body. When I sit down with people who are 6 foot+ I sit shoulder to shoulder (or higher), and I'm a fair bit under 6 foot. This means that while the desk is the right height for my legs, the 24" iMac I currently use is about 3" too short. A yellow pages and a Thompson local would raise it nicely if I had them to hand. So, I would prefer to be able to raise the monitor height, but can't.

I run into similar issues with bicycles where the assumes standard ratio of legs to torso is quite a bit off for my size.

Please remember that people in the rest of the world do not share your body (a)symmetry, and the need for adjustable height monitors is a real need because one size does (usually) not fit all.

Skype to give away wideband audio codec

Stephen Gazard

lack of signal

@David Hadworth: I agree

However, I've been wondering how a conversation that seems recorded at 8kHz-12kHz even has the range to encompass the plain old 300Hz-3.4kHz. I would have thought that if you don't have the signal there in the first place, the if you have one non-compliant system along the way which works at a different (old) frequency all you'd get is a lack of sound.

I'm guessing that Skype have got the units wrong on the original posting.

Web more popular than sex, says Intel

Stephen Gazard
Thumb Down

Communication more important than sex, then

What most people know about relationships is that the communication is (in the long run) more important than sex. Perhaps if the study asked what people were doing on the internet then they might have a more realistic idea.

MS dreams big as IE 6 for Windows Mobile nears

Stephen Gazard

Am I the only one...

who thinks that this article seems to be about IE6/IE7 and can't keep the story clear at the beginning?

Oh, and 'from' needs correctly spelling on the first page just by the transition from IE6 on a phone to IE7 on a phone

El Reg in Street View drive-by snooping

Stephen Gazard

enable scroll wheel on map?

Am I the only one who thinks that enabling scrolling on google maps is a good idea. Being able to zoom in on congested sections of the map like the south-east would be much more useful.

e.g.: http://googlemapsapi.blogspot.com/2007/04/v278-go-ahead-scroll-your-mouse-wheels.html

'Extreme' extreme porn law puts Scots out of kilter

Stephen Gazard

What about films?

I remember seeing the film 'Rob Roy' as a youngster (not in blighty), and that had a scene where the protagonists wife was raped by an Englishman.

This has an R rating and the keywords at IMDB certainly don't seem to make it any better. The irony of course is that this film about a Scottish hero would be banned in Scotland under this legistlation. Oh the irony

Boris boots Transys off Oyster contract

Stephen Gazard

re: How many customers do they have

Let's see. A quick back of the envelope calculation suggests they're doing well...

if 10% of 7.5million make a return trip on the bus (£0.90) on weekdays only, TFL gets £351 million.

I know it's simplistic, and I've no idea where staff salaries factor in. However, given that the tube carries over four million passengers a day (http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/media/newscentre/archive/7103.aspx) you can see that they're getting in some money.

Of course if just 10% have yearly zone 1 & 2 (tube) travelcards, TFL gets 407million profit

those figures are rough, so it's fair to say they're raking in money, even if they're not visibly improving things

NASA: Mars is good habitat for Terry Pratchett dragons

Stephen Gazard
Boffin

perchlorates are dangerous

Granted, in very small quantities and handled carefully, they are ok, but perchlorates mixed with organic substances (such as petrol, alcohol, etc.) are quite likely to go explode, hence their use in rocket fuel. A perchlorate is ClO4 (negative charge), and wants to oxidise most things it comes in contact with.

Never mind that they can also be shock sensitive, this is just bad science coming out of NASA, and I agree with the comment about finding perchlorates near where they landed. seems a bit odd.

Hacker murders Facebook word game

Stephen Gazard

got to go and buy a real board then...

Oh. Hang on, I just did, and it arrived yesterday. That's fortuitous!

However, it's still annoying that they killed off a good app, rather than work with the makers.

The only question is how are they blocking it? Is it based on IP addresses (proxies sounding like a good ploy), or is it based on the location provided in facebook? If the latter, expect a number of UK players to become 'irish' or something similarly innocuous

Dell guilty of defrauding New York customers

Stephen Gazard

DELL bashing

Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I've had fantastic turn-around times with Dell, the hardware worked (none of the aforementioned hardware/driver bugs), and quite good prices on my laptops.

I've admittedly gone for the international warranty (next day on site service), which has been pretty much up to scratch, save one time where they had to get the part, and they were honest about that (it was a motherboard that went pop probably due to noisy/badly filtered electricity).

I'm not a fan boy, but I'm quite happy with them

Assyrian clay tablet points to 'Sodom and Gomorrah' asteroid

Stephen Gazard

The location may not be known, but ...

OK, a little off the topic

The British Museum has another tablet which lists the cities of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Lasha in the exact order as in the bible. Prior to the discovery of this, historian's views were that Genesis was not written at the time, but the order of listing such towns was important as they were the trading importance of the towns, which was known at the time, but lost thereafter

See Genesis 10:19

However, I'm glad to see modern computing unravelling the vast knowledge held in those cuneiform tablets

Red Hat releases Enterprise Linux OS beta

Stephen Gazard

@ guess they're all flaky

Not so. Ubuntu took 15 minutes on a laptop to install, and is really quite nice to use. you must be having a driver/weird problem

7000 Leap Year Babies attack Steve Ballmer

Stephen Gazard
Stop

checkdate()?

in php it takes into account leap years:

if(!checkdate($month,$day,$year)){return false;}

one line. that's all. Not a javascript solution, but certainly one that works

Apple ships Air

Stephen Gazard

re: someone at apple can't do the maths

VAT at 17.5% puts it to 1099 for teh cheaper model. US prices are always exclusive of the VAT as sales tax varies, and is not always applicable depending on the state where the goods are sold and then shipped to.

It's not so bad, but there are also going to be shipping costs etc. added on for getting from the US to here...

MIT in pedal-powered 'super' computer stunt

Stephen Gazard

run of the mill bike, exactly

It's a 26" wheel job. Why not a 700c (28") insteead, and they would have had better gearing, so faster speeds. Besides, they're pretty average guys if they can get above 120W/person for cycling. Most athletes will sit at 300watts for a few hours, and Lance Armstrong averaged 400W for 6 or so hours when on the tour de France.

I can get >~250-300W for 15-20 minutes easily

Poor show in all. However, if it gets people off their chairs to power the office computers for part of the day, we might see some fitter, happier people all round (endorphins do wonders).

Peter Jackson to lord over 'Rings' prequels

Stephen Gazard
Thumb Down

a two part hobbit?

Good grief. With peter Jackson's usual 3-hour-stretch-out-a-film-in-any-way-possible style of making, this will be an epic.

Having read the books, the hobbit should be much easier to make into a 3-hour film than any of the lord of the rings trilogy since the storyline is much simpler, and much less involved. This, for me, begs the question of why he sees the need for 2 films for the hobbit as opposed to just one?

Of course it could be a sly way of getting us to spend more and more at the cinema...

Counterfeit Vista rate half that of XP

Stephen Gazard

@buddypepper

Windows XP 64 bit works fine. Drivers may be hard to come by but I know people who have it working just fine, and it works with memory >4Gb quite nicely due to the 64 bit architecture.

That said, I deliberately bought a new laptop (~May, 2007) with XP rather than Vista, and would still do so. Even XP gets a little slow at times. Now Ubuntu was 15 minutes installed and it just works. Much faster at connecting to Wi-Fi, and 7.10 has improved my start-up time.

All I need is to test Wine on everything and I'd get migration done, barring a few important Windows apps.

XP's built-in 'compressed folders' is nice but stops at any recent zip files, or those from Linux

EU TV laws are coming

Stephen Gazard
Boffin

re: Enjoy the mute button while you still can

External speakers to get better sound anyway. Then have a remote for those. Mute as you wish.

Or: get a TV now, and fume like mad when it can't be muted. Besides, I've yet to see a TV be stymied by hte lowly power switch on the wall. Most adverts are for 3-4 minutes, so you can enjoy them that way

or: plug in a set of really cheap headphones are the right point, (perhaps you only need the jack to correctly stuff the system -- don't know about the electronics on that one), and your TV outputs to the headphones.

Personally the external speakers appeal. If they could remotely unmute my current TV I'd be impressed. it's not HD, heck, not even digital/the likes. I've got a CRT...

Bring on the X-rays

Oh, and back on topic. advertising should be mutable. I'd love a TV that you can blank when needed as I find that they're a good time to talk to other people in the room.

product placement in films would be interesting. hopefully we're not going to have Truman-show like 'advertising'

Microsoft offers $300m for web-washing ad campaign

Stephen Gazard

on a mac, you can install live?

I tried looking at live.com (a near rip-off of google.com), and was told I could install Windows live on my machine. Great. I've got a mac. Let's see how far you can go with this one.

Select files, otherwise agree to everything under the sun, and you can download the file. Clever Microsoft. Install windows live messenger etc. on a mac via a windows download?

No browser checking. shame on them. Wait, this is microsoft who thinks windows rules the world...? never mind...

Beer set to hit four quid a pint

Stephen Gazard

@ Karim Bourouba

Brewing's permitted. Selling/distilling's not. Means you can only get up to 15% (if lucky) on your own wine.

MySpace backs Google's anti-Facebook play

Stephen Gazard

re: spam ridden facebook apps

You can always just ignore them. Some of the games are well written and under active development, and often making good computerised versions of the board games.

Getting vampire invitations sucks (pardon the pun). They're easily ignored; Succumbing to peer pressure is not often the best thing

US demands air passengers ask its permission to fly

Stephen Gazard

last minute purchases of flights to the US...

Ah. So those who need to fly to the US at the drop off the hat would be stuffed. Imagine telling your parents that you can't come because the US won't permit you to fly because you did not know three days in advance that your aunt was going to die. How inconvenient of her...

It's not a good plan at all.

Apple iPod Nano third-generation

Stephen Gazard

Video output cable (non-apple)

given the price apple charges for the 3.5mm => 3 RCA jacks, it's worth noting that all they've done is switch the cabling around. you can buy a non-apple version, and all you have to do is figure out which cable is which (not hard). Granted it's an extra cost, but it's only £5 or so (amazon) for the cable as opposed to £15 apple charges.

I've not got a new nano (my video ipod works fine), but I presume it's the same system. If nothing else, it may help other ipod users

Government warns parents of food-colouring danger

Stephen Gazard

7-Up. pretty much additive free

And in my mind tastier. I've stopped drinking Robinsons since they put aspartame and saccharin in the drink. the flavour is noticeably different and awful in my mind

Steve Fossett missing in Nevada

Stephen Gazard

what about an ELT?

In the US, when I was flying really basic planes, we all had ELT (Emergency locator transmitters) in the planes that would send out a signal if we crashed. It's usually picked up by a satellite and relayed on (see http://www.nss.gc.ca/site/cospas-sarsat/index_e.asp), so if he did crash he's going to be under some rock/in a crevasse/something similar.

It seems like he was forced down due to the weather conditions and might have broken his landing gear. Place that in a valley, and you have conditions for no radio signal. Given the winds I was seeing, it was no wonder he did not use the radio. If you've ever been out in high winds on a small aircraft, then you'll know that using the radio is pretty darn hard when you're going up/down 50 feet every 2-3 seconds and from time to time one wing jumps up while the other does not. This gets you at a 45 degree angle that's not always fun/easy to do while turning. People expect him to use the radio that is a little thing you need to hold down on one side? It's pretty hard under those conditions.

Eurostar inaugurates UK high-speed track

Stephen Gazard

Eurostar is much nicer than a plane

As a student I had a research trip to paris for 7 months, and found the train much more useful and quicker. I did not have a car, so could not drive, and parking in London/Paris is a pain, and expensive.

The plane worked out as this (using Charles de Gaule).

Central London->Heathrow/Gatwick (1hour, conditions not possible to use a laptop etc.)

Arrival before your plane leaves to permit invasive security checks (>1hour)

Plane flight (~1 hour)

Collecting baggage (30mins @ Heathrow, 20 at Charles de Gaule)

RER [Tube] to Central Paris (Gare du Nord station 1 hour)

Continuation to accomodation (25mins)

Total trip (at best): 5 hours, and it's all broken up into small sections.

contrast this with the Eurostar:

Central(ish) london to Waterloo (as it was then): 30 minutes

Arrival time before train needed to leave: 40 minutes (in reality you could turn up just on the 30 minute deadline, and it's only 10 minutes if you have a first class ticket [did not buy those though])

Travel time to *central* paris, Gare du nord: 2h35

Travel time to accomodation: 25 minutes

Totalling that up we get 4h10, and you have at least 2 1/2 hours of time to work/sleep/look out the window at a changing countryside (apart from 1/2 hour of blackness in the tunnel). On the basis of that and that you could generally bring in much bigger luggage items, the Eurostar was a winner.

If you live near Luton airport (no I'm not calling it London by any hope and a prayer that the airlines want to call it such), then flying might be better, but given the journey is so 'bitty', I much preferred the train; it's much more relaxing as well. 2 1/2 hours of sleep was really handy at times after a tiring visit to London. That was not possible on the plane

Power gadget set to cut electricity bills

Stephen Gazard

person -> plug/device -> push button

Whew! that was hard. I realise that's a (relatively) UK only thing to have wall sockets with switches, but you can buy extension leads that have rocker switches in most other countries.

In some respects it makes things easy, but it's going a little over the top. As soon as I heard using a remote to turn items off at the socket, I was really trying to wonder how lazy people have become. Besides in most houseeholds, 3-4 remotes are not uncommon...

Beavis and Butthead in London jihad

Stephen Gazard

Pandora's clock

Anyone read the book pandora's clock? For the uninitiated, it's about a 'terrorist' plot contracted by the US government to wipe out a plane-load of tourists on a charge of a viral infection, and then blame it on a then unknown group of islamic terrorists.

Sounds somewhat familiar to the current thing. I've always been a bit suspicious of the notion of Al-qaeda, but hyping up a story about bombs that failed to detonate does not help the overly sensitive section of the population who will get scared silly now at any parked car they don't recognise. In Iraq this thing happens far more often with far more deadly consequences. If we get afraid of things like this, as some people do, we've let anyone who has a notion of being a terrorist win because they've terrorised us by *failing*.

F-22 superjets could act as flying Wi-Fi hotspots

Stephen Gazard

see if you see a watchkeeper...

... simply shoot down the one closer to the base you know about, and hey presto it's a sitting duck too, only the army now knows roughly where it is.

If it's been programmed to head towards the last known location of the previous droid to maintain a datalink, you could even find it returning to base, and giving away the location of the base if you did not know it's location. That would make things interesting as a method of finding the enemy base. kill more than one bird with a stone...

Apple toughens iPhone screen, boosts battery life

Stephen Gazard

batteries, sigh.

Batteries are something people complain about on Ipods etc. where they rely on them. Apple's website explains what happens to batteries very well. It's the most non-technical and easy to read description about what happens to batteries; they all go to battery heaven at some point, especially if you use them heavily.

see http://www.apple.com/batteries/

the stated lifetime of any item will of course be on minimal volume etc to get good values), so if you listen at full volume, and play games on it at the same time, it's not hard to expect it to die in 14 months. Laptop batteries for the same reason are not given a warranty of more than a year, and most people understand that. I've had a laptop for 5 years, and had to replace the batteries once given careful use of the batteries (i.e. not plugged into the laptop while using the mains where possible). it's good use of something that make it last, not an abuse of something.

No, I'm not an apple fanboy. Yes I have an Ipod, and have use it quite loud when rollerblading since traffic noise makes it hard to hear anything. Note I only have it so I can just hear it (to keep a rhythm while blading); I'm not advocating blotting out background noise when walking/whatever with an MP3 player -- that's just stupid. Enough pedestrians here in blighty seem to want to be killed by a bus/car/whatever while using their MP3 player (can we get some stats on that?). Wherever possible, I use the minimum volume I need to not sap the battery, and at the moment it works just fine after almost a year of careful use.

AT&T sued by poor man's Formula 1

Stephen Gazard

poor mans formula 1 = ticket price

Example:

7th of July at Daytona: tickets start at US$90

8th of July in UK formula 1: 3 day pass is US$523.49 (including taxes) => $174.50 per day, using the cheapest tickets.

Seems pretty obvious that formula 1 is more expensive at least on the cheapest tickets, and hence the article title. I'm not saying that the tickets in F1 could be made cheaper, but the comparison is that the 'poor man' can more often afford tickets to the NASCAR championships.

Besides, while monaco is famous, most of the money spent is at restaurants and people's personal homes that have good views. One of the homes goes for £20,000 for the day simply because the Prince of monaco once chose to use it. Restaurant places go for £1000 a pop at some joints. that money does not necessarily make it back to F1 (as far as I know)

Boffins put encrypted bio-copyright watermarks in beer DNA

Stephen Gazard

probably not legal in many countries

In germany, beer is very strictly controlled. They stipulate water, hops, yeast and malted barley. That's it. A guy who added Ginkgo (or something else) was not allowed to call it beer.

GM tagged beer would probably suffer the same result, and besides, what would it taste like?

So what's in a URL? The Reg URL?

Stephen Gazard

.co.uk and .com redirects there

Americans are fond of britishness, but some may not want to type the .co.uk, so just point .com as a redirect to .co.uk.

Keep the britishness

Google is Europe's most visited site

Stephen Gazard

implications for brits

Either we're thicker than the average european, or we read longer pages. If we spend the most time online, by only a small margin, then similar nationalities ought to have similar numbers of pages read. The swedes, who spend less time online read a whopping third more pages.

Kind of suggests that literacy in England is not what it used to be

Brit uploaders teach Yanks man-hug techniques

Stephen Gazard

ditto

it's massively tongue in cheek, not 'homophobic tripe.' Please re-read the article with that in mind and you might notice it being that way

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