* Posts by Nick Kew

1974 posts • joined 16 Jan 2007

Penguins, I give you: The SOLAR-POWERED Ubuntu laptop

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Interesting

Any particular debian? I just installed out-of-the-box wheezy on a new ultrabook. Lightweight it isn't!

Nick Kew Silver badge


You want one? I've been wanting one since the 1980s.

But I want one with much lower-power components. Like, for instance, ARM processor, e-ink screen, SSD storage. Lighten the whole thing - notably the battery and panels - to be truly portable, as well as giving it a much longer battery lifetime even when it spends days in a backpack.

Intel flogging Atoms for belated push into mobile market

Nick Kew Silver badge

The propaganda effort has started in earnest

Ottelini was lots of sound and fury: lots of jam tomorrow. Or at least, competitiveness in the mobile market a fairly constant something-under-12-months away.

Now it appears they've been caught commissioning sham benchmarks[1] (reported in earnest here at El Reg[2]), it seems the gloves are off to fight dirty.

[1] http://hothardware.com/News/AnTuTu-Mobile-Benchmark-Cited-By-Analysts-Fundementally-Broken-Heavily-Favors-Intel-Architecture/

[2] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/06/14/intel_clover_trail_plus_benchmark_comparison_with_arm/

Dev bakes actual, edible raspberry pie with Raspberry Pi

Nick Kew Silver badge


That's ridiculous! It's winter in NZ, and raspberries are firmly out of season.

BAN UK tax breaks on patented tech, fumes German finance minister

Nick Kew Silver badge

This may be a subjective impression, but Germany seems to take a healthy attitude to intellectual property, including declining to be infected with US-style massive patent abuse. For them to get frustrated at other countries licking the boots of patent trolls seems entirely consistent.

But I guess for them to say so is about as useful as the people who warned ten years ago of the banking bubble. Noone thanks you for taking away someone's fun, no matter how dangerous or damaging it may be.

Google loses Latitude in Maps app shake-up

Nick Kew Silver badge


I was bitterly disappointed when Nokia messed up Maemo, leaving Android with no serious competitor in the relatively-open space.

Seems Google may be willfully conceding the maps space to Nokia. Payback?

O2 and Capita finally ink £1.2bn outsourcing deal

Nick Kew Silver badge


There goes the era of O2 as a decent and responsive company.

Yahoo! announces last hurrah of ancient AltaVista search

Nick Kew Silver badge


Altavista was the best in the pre-Google era. Head-and-shoulders above the rest.

In fact when Google first appeared, I don't think it was a better search engine than altavista. Where google scored for me was in a simple, uncluttered presentation. Altavista was beautiful to look upon, but out on the information dirt-track that came with the cost of long load-times, often measured in minutes rather than seconds.

Google says it paid TOO MUCH tax, wants $83.5m refund

Nick Kew Silver badge

Thank you Google

Tax-and-benefit regimes have been byzantine corruption-magnets for generations. And not just since they became much more formalised and universal after 1945[1].

We're now in a position where the economic bubble has burst and excessive corrupt and other feelgood (non-investment) spending by governments can suddenly no longer be swept under the carpet. Yet instead of fixing the rotten system, governments try to bully people into ad-hoc payments. That leaves the core of corruption untouched, and low-profile financial engineers without any legitimate business free to reap ever-richer rewards.

By analogy, think Patent Trolls. Think NTP vs RIM: the case that may have sown the seeds for the latter's downfall by moving the whole company from an innovative techie outfit to a defensive one bound by lawyers and red tape. Google, like RIM, has a real business doing something useful. NTP, like many nameless financial engineers, did not.

Google appears to be taking a stand for the rule of law and against arbitrary ad-hoc bullying. They've made it very clear that if the rules tell them to pay more then they will. That looks to me like taking a stand against a system that nurtures large-scale corrupt practices, and I commend them for it.

[1] I became acutely aware of it living in Italy in the 1990s, when many corrupt politicians were being locked up there. By contrasting that to the UK, I could see our heart of power - and hence corruption - is not the elected politicians, but the judiciary itself, and a network of nods-and-winks spanning primarily the City. How clever to be, quite literally, above the law and enjoy judicial immunity from any of the mess that engulfed Italy.

Bitcoin now accepted in London pub. In Hack-ney, of course

Nick Kew Silver badge

Meanwhile ...

The Laundry next door has been quietly accepting bitcoin for years

Huawei muses on Nokia's future

Nick Kew Silver badge

Just what Nokia needs

If Huawei wants Nokia, it's because Nokia has considerable assets and they're going cheap following Nokia's three or four years of failing. For Huawei it might also see it as a workaround for western protectionism in the guise of security concerns.

Could spark a bidding war if others see potential in those assets.

When UK.gov asks 'Who's your daddy', companies HAD BETTER reply

Nick Kew Silver badge

Nominees and Funds

Most (by no means all) of our big companies are listed on the stock exchange. That includes Private Equity, though not privately-held business such as (AFAIK) Lidls, nor partnerships like John Lewis or accountant and solicitor firms.

And who owns listed companies? Shareholders! But most of those shares are in funds: pension funds, mutual funds, investment vehicles, and the like. Even those whose beneficial owners are individuals are commonly held in nominee accounts: indeed, for shares held in a SIPP or an ISA there's no alternative.

In fact one might say, the whole history of our financial system has been working to distance owners from assets and obscure the relationships. That's a lot to reverse! Perhaps he really does want to finish the job NuLab started and pump up house prices to suck in ALL remaining assets in the productive economy?

All major UK ISPs prepping network-level porn 'n' violence filters

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: NomNomNom

The Mail Online?

How about that most bloodthirsty work of all, the Bible?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Paul Crawford

That would be for a court to decide. They're the only people empowered to make decisions on what is or isn't legal.

Erm ... wouldn't it?

Culture Sec: You - Google. Where's the off switch for all this filth?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Will somone think of the children!!

"... inadvertantly straying into dodgy areas ..."

I've been online for a lot longer than your kids have been alive[1], and I've never once strayed into anything more dodgy than the occasional link to a Daily Mail story.

Nothing really changes. But we come to ridicule last generation's censors. How long before comedians only have to say "IWF" to get a reaction like "mother-in-law" - the joke that evolved from the dampener on post-war sex lives in an era when you lived under her roof 'cos there was nowhere else to go, and were lucky to get a bedroom?

[1] Assuming your kids are of an age where they're in any legal sense your responsibility.

Stephen Hawking nixes Intel voice upgrade plan

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Wasn't it DECtalk?

My first reaction on seeing the headline: WTF have Hawking and Intel got to do with each other?

D***. Used them both in the same sentence. Intel have won.

Feds use Instagram pic of delicious steak dinner to nab ID thieves

Nick Kew Silver badge

Whose identity?

I wonder what the real Maye and Thomason think of this?

Research explodes myth that older programmers are obsolete

Nick Kew Silver badge

There's a cultural issue in the UK: companies see you as a loser if you still have your hands on code past your mid-20s. Not only do older hacks have to look elsewhere (e.g myself to open source work and a US employer), it means the youngsters are doing a low-status job that they know they have to grow out of to progress in their career.

This is not universal: Silicon Valley has a much healthier blend of ages, as do online communities.

BlackBerry CEO: Tablets will be dead in 5 years

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Uhhhhh, no

Blackberry got dragged down by the pirates NTP. Whether they might otherwise have continued as a successful innovator is now one of those might-have-beens. But a non-US company that is a market leader is always going to be particularly vulnerable to piracy in the US courts: that's why so many companies originating in Europe (including not least my employer) move their registration and head offices to the US.

Quid-a-day nosh challenge hack in bullet-hard chickpea drama

Nick Kew Silver badge

£1? Luxury!

When I was proprietor of a failing business, I got by on £2 per week (at today's prices). For two years, between running out of savings and starting to make an income.

If the core nutrition is pulses and value-line pasta (and similar), then extra ingredients that add flavour and goodness - like onions, mushrooms, chillies, green veg - turn it into a tasty meal. And if you use lentils in place of chickpeas, you escape the need for long preparation.

And I'm not even a Yorkshireman.

Remember Streetmap? It's suing Google in a UK court

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Sticky Wicket

searching "maps"?

What would you expect to come top in such a search?

(a) A service such as google or nokia, offering worldwide maps with lots of goodies?

(b) A service that's limited to one small island?

Hmmm ...

I wonder about "maps uk"?

(occasionally use streetmap, but find google online or nokia offline a whole lot better for everyday. Seems that websites that use maps, like for example zoopla and rightmove, do too.

Website which 'could have prevented Rwandan genocide' goes live

Nick Kew Silver badge

Police Yoof commissioner?

Could it save anyone getting egg on her face?


UK Serious Fraud Office queues up to probe HP's Autonomy allegations

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Once again...

2012/11 smells of hindsight. An earlier reference might have more credibility.

HP has a track record of inexplicable acquisitions. At least Autonomy did something interesting, rather than being pure Hot Air and fleece-the-taxpayer like EDS.

Choice comments at http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2011/08/18/hp_spinoff_of_pc_business/

(I googled "two plus metoo", being my phrase for HP trying to ape IBM and Oracle).

Reg readers brew up the ultimate cuppa

Nick Kew Silver badge

Tea bags forsooth!

Do you prefer tinned fruit to fresh, too? Instant coffee? And how do you like your spam?

Barbarians all!

Corporates! Bring in all-purpose filler for IT skills gap, thunders Steelie Neelie

Nick Kew Silver badge

It's the brain drain

Pay peanuts, get .... well, UK industry doesn't even seem to want anything more than twentysomething grads. Where's the career path? Oh, right, it's into a Suit, selling Hot Air to the Public Sector. Or else it's to Silicon Valley. Or variants on a theme.

Faced with no opportunities beyond the early career, is it any wonder folks go elsewhere?

Health pros: Alcohol is EVIL – raise its price, ban its ads

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: In the real world ..

Bah, typo alert. That last clause should of course read "and a really refreshing *absence* of any kind of drunken yob culture."

Nick Kew Silver badge

In the real world ..


I've lived in Sweden and traveled extensively in Scandinavia. Alcohol prices much higher than the UK, and availability altogether more restricted. And a far worse drink problem than the UK.

I've also lived in Italy. Some (not all) forms of booze much cheaper than the UK, and few restrictions. Healthy culture of drinking in moderation (with your food), and a really refreshing of any kind of drunken yob culture.

Hmmm ....

Meet the stealthiest UK startup's app Swiftkey - and its psychic* keyboard

Nick Kew Silver badge

Your chance to invest in touchtype

Touchtype is backed by venture capital: specifically Octopus Investments' "Titan" funds (who are paying me a chunky tax-free dividend next month from another successful investment).

They have an offer for subscription open right now: an opportunity to buy in to a share in Touchtype, along with about 50 other early-stage companies hoping for growth.

City sugar daddies mulling £10bn bid for EE, say sources

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Perverse incentives

"It's not their own money, it funds under management."

Um, it is their own money. Hence, private equity. Sure, you and I can buy and sell their shares[1]: that doesn't mean they're managing our funds, it means we own a share in them. Subtle difference. The same applies to an investment trust investing in quoted assets. Yes, they're being run by fund managers, but it's the company's own money being invested.

[1] People who expect them to make fat profits should perhaps consider buying in to those profits.

When open-source eats itself, we win

Nick Kew Silver badge

Common roots

In the beginning were homebrew hacks. Then two webservers emerged as leaders: things you could download and could run more-or-less out-of-the-box. Both NCSA and CERN servers were open source.

NCSA begat early Apache, which ruled the world in the second half of the '90s. But by the turn of the century, people were doing better. Apache 1 begat three new servers: Apache 2 from the same development team (modulo its evolution over time), and lighttpd and nginx as independent efforts, all drew on parts of the architecture and codebase. But their focus was different: Apache 2 with a lot of powerful APIS became a highly flexible and extensible applications platform, while nginx and lighttpd focused on raw performance in a more limited task. nginx has for some time looked like the winner in the "lean and mean" space, but is not designed with extensibility in mind!

And so we have horses for courses. The open source of NCSA and Apache 1 served its purpose, as different developers incorporated bits of them into new and improved products, serving different needs. Though of course there's still plenty of common ground: the regular web server or proxy, where any of them meets the needs of the vast majority of users without sweat.

Worst broadband notspots in the UK named and shamed

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Luxury!

Pfft. I first had 1200/75 baud back in '87.

They didn't call it t'internet back then, nor was it based on t'protocols we use today. When I got onto t'modern internet in the '90s I considered 100bps a rare luxury!

Apache plug-in doles out Zeus attack

Nick Kew Silver badge

And the good news

The good news is that Google has recently been spotted detecting this and marking infected pages as such:


Nick Kew Silver badge

A much better account

There's a much more detailed and informative account of what looks like the same underlying malware at


London gets huge Defecator Enthroned statue for World Toilet Week

Nick Kew Silver badge

An open invitation ...

.... to London's dogs, to join him?

Brits admit to using mobile phones during sex - and not in a good way

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: fanbois

What did they use for phone sex before the iphone?

China's IP boss says West distorts piracy problem

Nick Kew Silver badge

Having been infected with the anti-chinese propaganda, I wondered about this when I first heard of a chinese translation of my book.

Turned out the publisher was legitimate, and working with my publisher. The translator was very polite. The royalties arrived a few months later. A good experience.

UK chancellor dishes extra £60m to European Space Agency

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: It's a start

There are sectors we're good at (and I don't just mean being the world capital of dodgy finance). Did government back ARM, Imagination, CSR, etc? Or did those companies rise on their own merits?

In terms of space, ESA may have its issues with bureaucracy (who doesn't?) but it does good work. It is one of woefully few institutions to employ scientists on decent pay, which'll be good for someone and might even help nudge one or two bright youngsters to go into science in preference to law or finance. When I worked at ESA (in a contract role, not an employee) in the 1990s, it was common knowledge that the number of Good Jobs going to Brits would be vanishingly small, and we'd be the dogsbodies.

US whacks sanctions on Iranians for web, TV censorship

Nick Kew Silver badge

Internet Watch Foundation?

So what action has the US taken against the "Internet Watch Foundation" censoring the web here in the UK? Do tell us if it looks similar, or tells of double-standards?

EU and China in yet another tech trade spat

Nick Kew Silver badge

Who in Europe?

So who's been subsidising PV in Europe?

The industry is subsidised by virtue of there being FITs for consumers. But that's industry-wide, and applies equally to imported vs EU-made polysilicon.

We know Obama poured money into some lame duck (I forget the name) in the US, thus damaging its competitors both in the US and around the world. But who in the EU?

Debenhams cafes ban outré terms like 'espresso' and 'cappuccino'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Does it not strike anyone else that, to be in a Debenhams in the first place, you've already run the gauntlet of their smells and cosmetics area on the ground floor and stink so much you can't taste whether the coffee is good or bad?

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Sounds fair enough to me.

So why not simplify it and just ask for a drink? All this faffing about with "coffee" vs "water" vs "beer" vs "tea" vs "juice" and all that just confuses the matter!

Nick Kew Silver badge

That would be true to one of those Italian labels.

Ask a Roman for an "Americano" and you've asked for an instant coffee - something foreign. The English use of the word apparently refers to something else, to which no self-respecting Italian would stoop.

Nationwide to perform IT equivalent of 'replacing jet engine mid-flight'

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Oh Dear

I have no intention of ever finding out!

Nick Kew Silver badge

Re: Oh Dear

"... old beardy COBOL dudes know what the f**k they are doing ..."

Erm, yeah, right, pull the other one.

My one and only exposure to COBOL: in 1986 my then-employer sent me on a one-week course to learn about ICL (now Fujitsu) mainframes, to be "qualified" for a job with a particular client. All the course examples happened to be COBOL. I was the only member of the class who wasn't a COBOL person in my day job, yet I was top of that class. How does a person who's never seen the language before beat 15 people who "know what the f**k they are doing"?

ARMed warfare on the server: Intel versus AMD plus world?

Nick Kew Silver badge

A great British company ...

Speaking as a shareholder, my vote says don't let anyone take it over.

The more shares you own, the more say you get over its future if there should ever be a bid. I consider a bid unlikely unless it stumbles really badly and starts to look vulnerable. But then, big companies with huge cash piles can get irrational, and look what happened to Autonomy!

Yahoo! will! ignore! 'Do! Not! Track!' from! IE10!

Nick Kew Silver badge


So YOU made the choice. You who are techie enough to be reading articles like this, signing up to be tracked by ElReg, making comments here ...

But what about the average MS user?

"Huh? What's that about then? OK, better go with the default, or I'll be in no end of trouble when it Doesn't Work".

Oh hang on, no, the average MS user never installs it, they buy it pre-installed, and take it back to PCWorld (or call the support line) when they have trouble. Would they ever learn of the choice you made?

Nokia earnings pain masks intact war chest, brewing counterattack

Nick Kew Silver badge


I bought a new E6. Needed a successor to my E71 (which sadly drowned). E6 is the latest and greatest in the E-series, but Nokia seems very half-hearted about selling it, to the point where I had to hunt for it! Why limit such a great product line to the low-end Asha?

FWIW, the apps are a huge improvement on the E71, with just a couple of caveats mainly concerned with some controls having migrated to screen-only. The hardware, alas, isn't: the keyboard is OK but has lost its edge over a mid-range Blackberry, and the touchscreen is a pain in some apps. On the upside, the screen resolution is so good I surprised myself by finding web browsing and email easier on it than on the N900's screen.

How Nokia managed to drive its in-house Linux train off the rails

Nick Kew Silver badge
Thumb Down

lines to nowhere

I have a new symbian phone. Got it not for symbian, but for the seriously good hardware of Nokia's E-series. An on-screen keyboard is no substitute, the Blackberry alternative is just too bulky in the pocket.

My history with Nokia linux is a classic disappointment story. Saw the N810, it was exactly what I wanted but for the lack of phone/3G connectivity. Bought the N900, bitterly disappointed by the dreadful keyboard, excessive weight, lack of battery life, and above all Nokia abandoning the line.

After so badly burning their bridges with those of us who bought into Maemo, Windows may indeed represent their best chance of recruiting a new developer community!

HTC profits lobbed off a cliff by rivals Samsung and Apple

Nick Kew Silver badge


The Giants Nokia, RIM. Now HTC. And where are the traditional second-rankers? Anyone might think there was an industry shakeout happening! Though perhaps it's also the rise of chinese competitors to the point where the 'merkins pulled the strings of naked protectionism.

Question: why do fashions have to throw out the baby with the bathwater? Why does noone produce a phone with keyboard quite as good as the Nokia E71 any more, unless you count the whopping £500 two-hander blackberry bolds?

iPad mini to go on sale in one month?

Nick Kew Silver badge
Big Brother

Who will be there?

Note that you can only get to the event by following your satnav using Apple maps and autohypnotic suggestion. Other maps such as Google, Nokia or Bing simply won't get you there.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019