* Posts by Peter Gathercole

2924 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

OpenOffice 3.2 - now with less Microsoft envy

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@Chris Thomas Alpha

Your shrill voice repeating the same ill-informed arguments for rolling over and submitting to Big Business as it owns you is getting tiresome.

I can only hope that the Beta version of Chris Thomas is better, and by the time they get round to the release candidate, the rough edges will have been knocked off, and it will be fit for purpose.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Ordinary users (in the world)...

... do not like change. Change taxes their thinking processes, and even now, many 2007 users I know struggle with what they see as unnecessary complexity. For them, it's not intuitive. What they want is something constant, like the indicator being on a stalk on the left-hand side of the steering wheel, or the menu items being in fixed places around the window.

And I doubt that many employers think that facebook is an improvement (on no facebook) if their employees spend all day on it rather than working! Bit like posting comments to the Register, I guess.

As you get older, I suspect that you too will start wishing that change would slow down. It's a sad reflection on aging and society.

And please stop frothing at the mouth. It does not endear you to anybody.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Don't fully agree!

I respect your arguments, but think that they only apply to part of the market.

If you are a large organisation, and can justify large outlay for beautiful on-screen presentation, then go ahead. Gloss sells here, just as much as in the fashion world, but so does the FUD about moving away from MS Office. But if beauty was always more important than utility, we would all be driving around in Aston Martins, Jaguars or Mercedes rather than the Fords, Vauxhalls and VW's that we do.

But for any number of small organisations, where every penny counts towards making any profit, and the most complex document they produce is an invoice or cost benefit spreadsheet, then beauty on the screen is a luxury they can ill afford. The important thing is the end document, and this will depend on the skill of the person, not the package they are using.

Productivity is an issue, but the numerous changes in interface between different versions of MS Office (especially 2007) cannot be counted as a productivity enhancement in anybody's eyes. I've listened to too many people turn the air blue when they can't find where something is in MS Office 2007.

I understand your point about Photoshop and The GIMP, as this is a product aimed at professional Graphics Designers who appreciate good design, but the majority of MS Word users ARE NOT professional document writers. They just need something to put words on paper. Many of them would probably still be comfortable with correctable typewriters and pre-printed stationary if computers themselves were not so cheap.

I have a cautionary tail with regard to Photoshop in answer to your diversion away from Office packages. My daughter used PS under an educational license on her Mac. Now she is no longer a student, she should re-license her copy, and has found that it will cost her more money to do this than she earns in a month (she is struggling to find reasonably paid work in the field), and more than her Mac cost new! But the GIMP is free. Her choice is not to pay bills for a month, continue using her installed copy against the license conditions while possibly saving up, switch to the GIMP, or not do any computer enhanced graphics. Some choice!

My beef is not with functionality, or interoperability, but with the crass way that Microsoft (and others) lock their customer base in and abuses them with unnecessary updates and other money grabs. This is where Open Office has a place, even if only to remind Microsoft that they are not the only player in town. Do you think that the "Home and Student" edition of MS Office would exist AT ALL if Open Office was not there? It's mere presence affects the market in a beneficial way for end users.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


My point that 3151's were not good terminals. You would not get Vi working on a 3151 with a 'bad' compatibility cartridge and the out-of-the-box termcap/terminfo entries on AIX (or any other UNIX variant).

Sorry, my post wandered from the initial thread.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

@DrXym. WYSIWYG!!!

I have always found it to be a real benefit thinking about the content first, and then making sure it is pretty afterwards. Using a text editor is ideal for this. This is not a UNIX bigot's point of view, it's from long experience of writing technical documents using both ways of working.

I have seen too many supposedly good technical writers spend more time fiddling with the format rather than thinking about what they were writing, and then turning in hurried and poorly thought out technical documents just in time for their deadline.

I believe that WYSIWYG was the worst thing to happen to office productivity. Let a text formatter work out how to fit the paragraphs and pages together. They are generally better at it than you and I (at least in the technical arena), and as long as you can tweak it to remove the worst of the uglies, the documents will not look any worse (and may look much better!). And don't talk about style guides. Word's habit of keeping the style when cutting and pasting has led to more font/paragraph inconsistencies in documents I have been given than I can count.

The only time WYSIWYG is useful is if you are after the full DTP experience for full page layout, like magazine articles or advertising, and you would not be using Office or Open Office for this, unless you are forced to, or are a masochist.

But then, I am from the Troff/MM/MS macros era. My documents may lack some of the niceties (although with tbl, pic, grap, and eqn it's a close call), but they will be consistent from beginning to end, and I can concentrate on making the content correct. This is far more important in my line of work.

BTW. How do you know that the text was not written using vi and cut and pasted! And I would not call this comment window I'm typing in anything more than a simple text editor, more like notepad, wordpad, EDT/EVE or any number of simple text editors than Word or Oowriter.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


My god! One that still works!

These terminals had the most unreliable video system I have EVER seen. The brightness is the thing that fails most, leading to having to peer at the screen with all the lights off. Then there is the flyback supression that lead to ugly left-to-right, bottom-to-top diagonal lines. The power switch breaks, and the clips/screws that hold the mainboard to the case appear to come undone. The built in tilt foot breaks, and the tilt and swivel base (if fitted, it was an extra purchase) would fall off whenever yo picked up the terminal.

And this is just the hardware!. The 3151 used IBM specific terminal codes (i.e. not compliant with ANSI X3.64, Wyse 50/60 or any other terminal I came across). Whilst they worked, there were some real ugly features like not being able to turn on or off the bold/underscore/flash capabilities independently. IBM addressed this by having 'compatibility cartridges', which definitely did NOT do what they said on the can. The cartridge for AIX compatibility was supposed to work with AIX (surprise), but in reality, because there were multiple versions, most of which were broken in different ways, it was useless. You had to tweak the termcap/terminfo entries to get them working at all.

And don't get me started in the stupid cables that were the official way to plug them into a PC/RT 6150 or RS/6000. 10 pin MODU or RJ45 to 25 pin D-shell, straight through 25-25 pin serial cable and then a Serial Interposer (that was wired differently from a standard null-modem) that stuck out of the back of the terminal just begging to be broken. (later RS's used 9 pin D shells, a major step forward).

The only good feature was, as jake said, that they came with Model M keyboards (a real class act), but this was spoilt by having a stupid RJ11 connector on the end of the cable that meant that the keyboard could only be used on 3151s without hacking them around. I also agree with vi (pronounced vee eye not vye or 6 [think about it!]), but would say that if it suits you, Emacs still works very well on non-graphical terminals.

Thankfully, the 3152 and 3153 were better, but they were still worse than DEC/Wyse/HP and any number of small company alternatives.

My favorite was a small company set up by some ex. Wyse engineers, called Falco. These were amazing terminals, with good keyboards, readable screens, dual serial ports with separate terminal sessions on each, good ANSI X3.64/VT220 (amongst a host of others), and to cap it all, good Tektronic 4014 emulation. And they were cheap! They were the perfect compliment to System V systems, allowing all of the AT&T goodies such as S, graph, sag and the tek backend to diTroff to work. The only thing that was better, I found, were the Blits (5620/630/730), but these were in a different price league from any other terminal.

Oh well. It's mainly all boring history now, as my work colleagues keep reminding me. Where's the Boring Old Fart icon! I guess a beer will have to do.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Open Source!

It's in the open. I'd have to check with the license, but if Oracle choose to stop developing it, it could be forked.

A decade of techno-sex: Look how far we've come

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


I think your chronology is wrong. UUCP was probably the earliest, certainly a long time before FTP and the general takeup of home computers able to talk to Fidonet et. al.

UUCP over modems was a common communication method back when the modems cost (currency)1000's, and only companies would buy them. The earliest instances of Usenet was UUCP based (UUCPnet?), and worked via emails sent through a connected network of systems mainly using modems. One system would host a group, and would receive posts via email, and distribute them likewise. Everything else evolved from there.

Basic UUCP functionality was include in BTL UNIX Version 7, dated around 1976, although it may have had some support in V6 (I've lost my documentation). It's probably in my coat, wherever that is.

BOFH: The PFY Chronicles

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
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He can't be dead. He must just be in the shower! Wake up PFY, wake up.

Microsoft erases Windows 8 optimism

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Don't compare apples and oranges

You cannot compare the two. Although CP/M was a pig to use in hindsight (who remembers PIP), it was very like it's peers, and possibly a bit better (certainly from version 2.2 onward). It was so good for it's time, in fact, that Seattle Computer copied it to create their DOS (DOS is too frequently used to me meaningful without context), which was noticed by Microsoft, and the rest is history.

Of course, CP/M was a rip-of of previous systems like Digital Equipment Corp.'s RT/11, which it self was a derivative of one of their PDP/8 OS's.

But in those days, an OS was really an application launcher, pure and simple. A lot of people I knew actually did not use the OS at all, but just created (or got a friend to create) a bootable disk that automatically launched whatever application it was they needed. So you had a WordStar disk, and a VisiCalc disk, an MS Basic disk etc. Once you were in the app. you never left it until you saved your file, and turned the computer off.

Microsoft tests show no Win 7 battery flaw

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

2 laptops?

Why not just 2 hard disks? One with Win7, the other with WinXP. Do serial checks, one with the XP disk and one with the Win7. Repeat, and see whether anything changes.

Cheaper on hardware, but possibly more time consuming.

DNA pioneer lambasts government database policy

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Not complete

Remember that what is stored on the database is just a hash of the DNA, not a complete assay. Nobody is going to be able to clone anything from the database, and identifying health problems is unlikely.

H.264 video codec stays royalty-free for HTML5 testers

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Why not Ogg Theora then?

Surely this should now be a no-brainer.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

This is no concession...

Notice the "not-for-profit"caveats. This means that privately produced YouTube videos are fine, but you can't use it for fee-based video services (think Sky AnytimePC, or even under some circumstances, BBC iPlayer or 4OD), and you certainly would not be able to use it for promotional material from commercial organisations.

This makes it unsuitable for a universal codec,

Sounds like a minor concession to line up future license fee revenue streams to me!

Google's Android code deleted from Linux kernel

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


Likening the current Linux kernel to V4-V7 Bell Labs. UNIX on a PDP/11 is like saying that your Ford Mondeo is a re-implemented Model T.

It's true, it has four wheels, a motor, and used a steering wheel, brakes and a gearbox, but there ain't no compatible parts!

Now I'll defend V6 or V7 as being brilliant for their time until the cows come home, but don't suggest that Linux is 'just a re-implementation'. Even if you did, SVR3.2 with TLI or BSD4.4 would be a better reference than anything that ran on a PDP/11 (think communication subsystems).

And anyway, why should Android not be multi-tasking (OK, I'm blurring the distinction between timesharing and multi-tasking), but both the timeslicing and the privilege protection is just as useful in a mobile device as it is on a multi-user computer. After all, the inability of the iPhone and iPad to multi-task is one of it's biggest criticisms, and having an ineffective security model was seen as Windows biggest problem. Multiple tabs in Chrome on ChromeOS will probably be implemented as threads which will probably need to run in parallel, anyway.

Whilst BeOS, OS9 and VxWare people may think their OS's have significant advantages over a Linux kernel, Linux is not such a bad place to start. The API's are well understood, the code is open, and you can comfortably remove the overhead you don't need (I remind people that vanilla V6 UNIX on a PDP/11 without separate I&D space HAD to fit in less that 56K of memory!).

Microsoft's IE 8 misses Windows 7 updraft

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Not free.... unless

... you are prepared to run it under Wine. You would be breaking the license conditions, and I believe that IE6 is the last version that you will get to run comfortably, but it works (I dual boot the Laptop I am doing this on, and have a valid Windows COA for it).

Save DAB! Send FM radios to Africa

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


D-to-A conversion takes time. You cannot get away from this, and the delay varies inversely with the power of the microprocessor in the decoder. Exactly the same happens with digital TV. Try tuning TV's in different rooms to BBC One, one on digital and one on analog terrestrial (quick, before it disappears!) And for Sky or Freesat,, its worse still because of the longer transmission path. Nobody has complained about this yet.

I know all about the problems with the time signal, I use it myself (on FM of course), but you ought to realise that there are propagation delays in all transmission systems. When I was involved with radio clocks, there was a map that used t be published that detailed the NPL radioclock delays to the extreme edges of the country. This must have been upset when the service moved from Rugby to Cumbria. 200 miles will lead to a measurable delay in the milisecond range. Ignorable if you are setting your watch, but not zero.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

FM quality?

It could be apples and oranges here of course. If you have a decent aerial on a radio that does not move, especially if it is in some form of HiFi, FM quality is predictable and generally quite good. But even in this case, the stereo decoding introduces hiss (try hitting the mono button on your tuner when listening in a quiet environment, and seeing how the hiss disappears). And you must remember that many of the commercial FM stations use dynamic range compression and dead space elimination techniques to boost the quiet parts of the music and make hiss less noticeable. Try listening to Radio 3 or Classic FM if you want to make comparisons.

In a car, there is all sorts of interference, especially when the car is moving. There are drop outs as you move, especially in built-up or hilly areas, and cars are not good environments for electrically sensitive equipment (yours may be well shielded and suppressed, but you cannot control the rusty 20 year old Fiesta that pulls up next to you at the lights!)

In some cases, DAB can eliminate this interference. If you get a good enough data stream, other interference can becomes irrelevant (it's digital!), and transmission and decoding hiss disappears. But more often than not, the same interference that degrades the FM signal will also damage the digital signal, and when the DAB receiver does not get a enough of the digital stream, it either burbles or just drops out for a couple of seconds, whereas FM may still be listenable.

My guess is that a lot of the people who say DAB is good and FM is bad listen to FM in the car, and DAB in the home, whereas a lot of the people who say that DAB coverage is bad are probably trying to use it on the move, or just in areas of crap reception, where FM degrades more gracefully.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


Ah. The same section of the M5 and North Devon link road that I can't get reception on then.

But for me, it extends north all the way up the A396 until I get nearly to the coast, when presumably, I start picking up the Welsh multiplexes.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Sound quality?

This is subjective, but I would say that a high bit rate DAB station when the signal is good sounds better than FM. But the problem is that only a small number of the stations actually broadcast a high enough bit rate, and you cannot depend on a good signal.

In general, I would prefer to listen to hissy, uninterrupted FM in the car than to a DAB station that keeps dropping out for seconds at a time. But at it's (infrequent) best, DAB can sound superb. I listened to a carol service on Classic FM (on DAB - 160kbps) in a quiet environment through decent headphone recently which was simply breathtaking in its clarity, dynamic range and lack of noise or digital artifacts. Very rare, but a good indication of what is possible.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Blackspots. I'll say!

I have a 50 mile drive to work. I can get Radio 4 (which surely must be one of the stronger stations) on DAB for the first 5 miles, and the last 2. At one other point during the drive, I may just about be able to get a signal good enough to recognise the broadcaster, but not what they are talking about.

This is on a properly fitted, car specific DAB radio. And about 13 miles of the journey which is DAB dead is on the M5.

I'm sticking to FM, even though I want to listen to Planet Rock and BBC7, and I invite Peter Mandledroid down here anytime to see whether he would find DAB acceptable as an FM replacement (I would even refrain from haranguing him about much of the dross he says in public during the process)!

Virgin Media battles privacy campaigners on P2P monitoring

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

So... what.

That's not what DPI is for. Any fool can identify bittorrent traffic by looking at the port numbers and the first few bytes of each packet, but DPI should be able to catagorise what is being carried in the bittorrent stream. This should mean that they can work out that Ubuntu 9.10 is OK, but Avatar is not.

But I'm not sure you need to use DPI for this (at least with torrents), as all you need to do is join the leechers, and grab the first few blocks to work out what is in the torrent. Of course, if this was known to be being done, you build an image that is a mix of copyrighted material sandwiched between something that is not, but that just makes it an arms race between the community and the ISP's. And before anybody starts talking encrypted torrents, remember that to be usable, the leecher has to be able to decrypt what they have downloaded, or else it is not worth doing.

But I am worried by "40 per cent of Virgin Media customers will be monitored for illegal music sharing, but those involved won't be told". I would suggest that there is a "yet" to be added at the end.

Teletext toddles off as licence taken

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
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BEEB and Teletext

It went much further. Acorn made the Teletext adapter for the BEEB that allowed you to open teletext pages as files on a file system from BBC Basic. One would open a page by specifying the page number as the filename, exactly as you would a file on disk, and then read a record that corresponded to the entire screen, and decode the information inside your program. I am sure that the adapter also cached some of the pages so you could get fast access.

Was fun to play with, but I could not really see a real application for it. I guess it was really an early example of a "Screen Scraper".

I could not get the hang of the locking graphics modes for Mode 7 which allowed you to specify disconnected and joined up graphics modes and colours. The person who thought this up (for Prestel and Ceefax, before the BEEB came along) must have had a seriously deranged way of looking at things. But it was a hardware mode, implemented by the display hardware (an SAA 5050), and allowed much clearer text than the all-points-addressable modes (the cell size was something like 15x10 compared to 8x8 in the graphics modes) meaning that the text was very clear even on cheap televisions, the screen only used 1K of memory, and allowed all 8 colours, plus flashing colours to be used.

Was a clever way of maximising the usable memory in a machine that looked under-provisioned for memory even when it was launched. Ah, the memories.

IBM countersues Neon over zPrime accelerator

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


Lamborghinis maybe, but you could probably trademark Lamgorhinis yourself.

The monopoly on 360/370 family mainframes is, as Henry Wertz points out, not enforced by IBM. The plug compatible manufacturers simply left the market. It was as though everybody but Ford stopped making cars.

I've heard it expressed that the 370 was the first open computer platform. IBM published the 370 Principals of Operations (POO), which documented the complete workings of the CPU, channel structure and I/O processors that enabled the whole PCM market, exploited by Amdahl, Fujitsu and Hitachi, to name just a few.

Acer says no to iPad-alike tablet

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Acer's core business?

Problem is Acer is not in the OS business. What would they put on it? Android? Chrome OS, Windows Mobile? Or maybe whatever Microsoft is touting as a tablet OS at the moment?

The Windows solutions won't give it the same WOW as the iPad (at least to fanbois), and Android or Chrome OS will probably need some some development by Acer to make it attractive to customers.

I would actually like to see a device like the iPad running WebOS, but I doubt that Palm have the spare cash to develop such a thing. Tablet, pen/touch integration, Multi-tasking, a long history of developer-friendly application environments. I believe that it would be more usable than what we have been told the iPad will deliver. Still, we can dream.

Firefox-based attack wreaks havoc on IRC users

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
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Not so! I used it only last month, but it was for a nostalgia trip!

But the real question here is when is an obsoleted protocol/service no longer required. I'm sure a lot of people would like to see ftp deprecated, but it's not going to happen for a while yet.

Steve Jobs uncloaks the 'iPad'

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


You've not been reading the Reg. properly. HTML5 is far from done-and-dusted, as it relies on the underlying codecs being in the browser, and there being arguments about H.264 and Ogg Vorbis.

BTW. H.264 is not open source. Even though it's freely available It is patented. This is something quite different.

Windows 7 upgrades Vista laptops to lower battery life

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

3 hours.

It's relative. If you have a road-warrior desktop replacement which is over three years old, three hours would be excellent! If you have a current netbook with all of the power saving features enabled, it's not. Remember that the eeePC 701 (the original 4GB SSD one) was only quoted as having about 3.5 hours of battery life with the high capacity battery, and that was only three and a bit years ago!

My trusty thinkpad T30, which is about 6 years old, gets about 1hr 20min. When it was new, the handbook said that it should have been 3-3.5 hours. If I still got 3 hours I would regard it as excellent, but as I only use it on batteries infrequently (part of the problem), it's no issue (and being a Thinkpad, I could always get a Chinese replacement battery for about 30 quid if it was).

Only nukes can stop planetsmash asteroids, say US boffins

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Rocks chucked at a planet...

...by things called "Mass Drivers", have featured in Sci-Fi like "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", Babylon 5, and even the Anime series Gundam (the original, not the numerious follow-up's).

Nothing's new.

China denies role in cyber attacks on Google

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


That's just his way.

Be grateful that this post is moderately comprehensible.

Google ices Android launches in China

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

19 years ago, eh?

My last history lesson was 34 years ago, and I am not in a history related profession!

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

ROC (Taiwan) and PRC (mainland China)...

...are not the same.

PRC is the Peoples Republic of China, and is mainland China.

ROC is the Republic of China, which is the remnants of pre-communist China, which is pretty much just Taiwan.

Definitely different, although PRC would love to take charge in Taiwan, as it's been a thorn in their side for 50 years.

Gawd. What do they teach in History now!

Tor software updated after hackers crack into systems

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
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Could be more open...

... like telling us which (embarrassing) vector was used to gain access to the servers in the first place! You would think that they would be extra careful with these systems.

Avon & Somerset cop computers titsup?

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Local jobs!!

I thought I would be able to get some work close to home as part of Somerset One, but IBM just put all the servers in Warwick. So much for local commitment.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Liddle Granger's been campaigning on this for ages

He's just got to the point where he has brought it up in Parliament. 'Bout time.

Shame he's not so committed to keeping real work rather than just tourism in Somerset.

US makes travellers go online, before getting onboard

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
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Sort of makes you wonder...

...if you can only travel if you are able to get online. I wonder if Travel Agents will ask at booking time whether you are able to fill in the form on the Internet, or whether there will be little old ladies refused at check-in because they do not have a computer. (I'm assuming that if you can buy your ticket online then, well, you can fill in an online form).

Yanks floored by nail guns, computers and baseballs

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There was a computer desk involved! Obvious, really.

Record labels seek DMCA-style UK takedowns

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

representational politics...

...will never provide what everybody wants. You vote for an MP, and when they are elected, there is no way that you can actually make them vote in the House the way that you want, and you have no way of making them do so until the next general election, or you try to get them de-selected. This is not a quick process, and will not work for specific piece of legislation.

Once elected, the whipping system in the House will make your MP vote with their party, or face censure (at least on important votes). If you feel like it, try talking to your MP at one of their surgeries, and then see whether you can affect how they vote on the issue you talked about.

The only way to get what you want is to force a referendum on every topic that is made law, but then how would you get the whole population educated to make sensible decisions on, say, tax policy or defense, or some other area where you may have to have necessary but unpopular policies. To gauge whether you want this, try watching the debates in both houses on the Parliament channel to find out whether you really want to be involved in every policy decision.

I suspect that if there were whole-country votes for everything, the turnout in each referendum would soon become a fraction of one percent of the voting population. People are just not THAT interested in politics. This would then lead to legislation being passed by any group able to motivate enough people to overwhelm the normally apathetic opposition.

In addition, those people who do not understand democracy, but voted, will still feel aggrieved when they are in the minority.

What we do need, however, is a strong and independent second house to provide the checks and balances to prevent bad legislation. This government, not liking the old model House of Lords (because it kept giving them bloody noses every time they tried to pass bad laws) tried to reform the Lords, but botched it by not completing the job. This has left the balance of power with the House of Commons, a very undesirable state of affairs. The result? A raft of poorly thought out and often impossible to enforce laws, which could soon be joined by the Digital Britain bill.

So the answer is not just VOTE. It is a much more complex problem that I do not believe anybody has the answer to.

Still, I understand the sentiment. What we are enduring at the moment just SUCKS!!! I am beginning to smell the faint whiff of revolution in the air.

BTW. Did anybody else spot that this is an Andrew Orlowsky article that allows comments?

Italians take the 'p' to fight back against Big Brother

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


I was looking forward to a story about a telescope that did not use glass lenses until I read the bootnote!

Google Nexus One caught on camera

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
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Pick which part of Acorn!

Acorn split into lots of different businesses, many of which were associated with the ARM (remember when it was called the Acorn RISC machine). I think that you should say that Steve Furber and Sophie (nee Roger) Wilson should be proud of their achievements, and that Herman Hauser should be congratulated for his foresight in backing the project, even though it did not save Acorn Computers Ltd.

Lawyers scared of computers

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Data Protection Act (not sure which one)

The last time I looked in detail in the act, it talked about computer readable information, which, if you take it literally, should mean paper records as scanners and OCR have existed for ages.

BOFH: Key performance undertakers

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

How do PFY's progress...

...when their youthfulness is waning? After all, even with his diet, he should be over that acne by now?

Dead man's shoes maybe?

It's harder to kill BOFHs than this! After all, he's survived an attempt before.

Scientist proposes quantum über-battery

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
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Hazard warning

Sounds very interesting, but I would be worried about the rate of discharge. Capacitors tend to be able to dump charge rapidly, which would make these devices potentially dangerous if handled incorrectly.

These would be very difficult to secure in a car after a road accident. I'd be worried of high current arcs vaporizing any metal that shorted the battery. But any stored high energy source is potentially dangerous, I guess.

Angels can't fly: Official

Peter Gathercole Silver badge
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But who said that that was a disguise? The encounter suite was the disguise.

Google: Do no evil, pay no tax

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Dangerous pecidents here

International tax is a minefield.

I think that if HMRC taxed profits where they are earned, not at point of declaration, and other countries followed suit, the UK would probably be a net looser. This is because we are largely a country of service industries, earning most of our overseas revenue from other countries in this manner, and internationally, double taxation is frowned upon.

You woulda thought that the politicians who are proposing this would study it enough to realize the implications.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

VAT is probably offset

They are certainly over the threshold where VAT registration is compulsory, so any VAT they pay will be offset against what they charge. No tax loss/gain there, it's mostly neutral.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Tax? I think this is Corporation Tax

Learn about the tax system in the UK before ranting, please.

I'm sure that they are doing the right thing for NI and PAYE income tax for their employees in the UK (HMRC would see to that), it's just the Corporation Tax, and they probably do the same as any number of companies that are not Incorporated in the UK (Dell, eBay etc.)

We don't have a hypothicated (don't know whether this is too obscure for Firefox's spelling checker, or whether I have just got it wrong) tax system here, so it is not possible to work out whether the tax credits are paid from Corporation Tax or PAYE and NI income, but I would suggest that you should expect it to be the latter.

If the average income is 90K, I suspect that few if any of the Google employees would be able to claim any tax credits, anyway, and if anybody is sacked from Google, then the Jobseekers allowance should definitely be from NI.

Thai firm flies in early-80s style keyboard PC

Peter Gathercole Silver badge


I know that HDMI appears to be becoming the accepted standard for HD TV, but when I first got my EeePC 701, I plugged it into my Acer AL2671W TV via the VGA port that that TV has (it really is more like a widescreen monitor with a TV tuner). I configured the correct native resolution for the TV in the EeePC, and it worked fine at native resolution. The TV appeard to lock on to the dot clock perfectly, and the timing on the EeePC was stable enough to prevent dot-creep or the moire patterns that plague mistimed TV signals. Was perfectly clear.

My kids are now using that TV with the Xbox360 using a component cable, and that looks pretty good too. And the TV actually offers DVI as well (it's a well spec'd TV, with only HDMI missing, which is one reason I replaced it for Sky HD). So I wonder whether HDMI is really necessary for a PC if any of these other ports are available. I wonder how much of the HDMI requirement is actually hype and/or media companies wanting to adopt it because of the DRM features that it provides. Off course, I know it also provides audio.

But for the target market, I wonder whether a small PC like the Eee Box, and a wireless keyboard and mouse is actually a better solution, as that does not require a cable from your armchair to the TV. It's a good price, though.

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

Flash on Linux

I've a real problem here. If I download the .flv file using Download Helper, my poor, underpowered EeePC 701 can play the result with mplayer just fine. It's only when I am using a browser based Flash pluging (both Adobe Flashplayer 10, and also Gnash/Klash) that I have problems.

Also, the Adobe plugin for Flash 9 worked very well, but the installer for this appears to have disappeared into the ether, just leaving the crap version 10 both on Adobe's website, but also in the repositories for the major distro's. So, I don't think it is a Linux problem, more an Adobe one.

EDS mainframe goes titsup, crashes RBS cheque system

Peter Gathercole Silver badge

But being an IBM system

you can guarantee that the process is well documented. More likely the person receiving the bulletins about the critical firmware updates was amongst the people who was let go. Also, HP were probably doing the hardware maintenance, and you can guess how good they would be at that!

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