* Posts by David Burton

13 posts • joined 15 Feb 2007

Linux weaktops poised for death by smartphone

David Burton


I'd agree that the original Eee is too limited. However, the 9-10 inch netbooks have a resolution more viable for simple everyday computing, and most of these have 1GB of RAM, leaving XP reasonably happy to do its business, at least so long as you don't get too optimistic.

Having said that, there are entirely separate reasons to take an interest in a netbook. Let's see, decent battery life and small size - note-taking in classrooms or lectures, ebook reader, movie player, porn browser, etc... applications where the larger screen and/or reasonable-sized keyboard offer a clear advantage over smartphones.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a smartphone user rather than a netbook user, but typing any serious amount on an E71 is rather more taxing than on a proper keyboard, and the screen just isn't big enough for media playback. There's a degree of convergence, and I can see the specialised portable DVD and media players as the first casualties, as the smaller of their kind are picked off by smartphones and the larger by netbooks. Ebook readers such as the sony device will also look overpriced compared to surfing/colour/movie-capable netbooks, and may also find it hard to enter the market.

As people have less money to spend, netbooks will lose some who no longer have enough to spend, but will gain others who decide a netbook will suffice over a more expensive laptop, so it remains to be seen how much they'll get hit.

Vodafone accused of talkingtoofastinradioad

David Burton


Definitely a bit fast. Worse than that it's got terms like 'fair use' which remain equally undefined (and unreasonable as ever).

Amazon flash mob mauls Spore DRM

David Burton

Resale rights

As far as I'm concerned, quite apart from limiting your own opportunity to use the software, you're also pretty well refusing the purchaser the right to buy a 2nd-hand copy of the software, because nobody's going to know whether they're going to be able to install it.

While EA certainly doesn't care about the resale market, I'd have thought the authorities might have something to say about it given that the view seems to be that boxed software IS a product, not a licence to use a product, and as such is not allowed to be restricted from being sold on.

Copyright lawyers accuse 25,000 UK videogame filesharers

David Burton

£7.5m extortion racket...

So the copyright holders provide no substantial evidence of losses, the lawyers benefit from an effective class action-type economy of scale in getting names from the ISPs (without the people whose private information is being disclosed being notified), and then the lawyers will threaten expensive legal action if £300 is not paid by each of them, without having provided any watertight evidence... most IP addresses not being used by a single machine, but re-used, many households having multiple people sharing one net connection, potential illicit use of the network not having been ruled out, and the presence of the file being listed on a p2p site providing little proof of any loss to the company... where can I get some of this action, it sounds like the kind of thing that the Crays would have been muscling in on, yet instead of cracking down on the use of minimal evidence and threats to secure easy money, the government is supporting these leeches by talking about increasing the penalty.

Note that I am a developer, and have some vested interest in works not being universally pirated, but recognise that free sharing doesn't significantly reduce the funds an individual has available for recreation, so the likely damage from any such piracy may be very different to commercial copying and sale - it's far more akin to sharing mix tapes in the playground (as I'm sure many of my age remember as something that was technically illegal but not prosecuted or overly worried about).

As if the credit crunch wasn't hitting households enough, without tens of thousands of households being slapped for another £300 by lawyers because their son (or daughter) download a copy of a game when their parents had to withdraw their pocket money to pay for food. Of course, that's slightly exaggerating things, but there is the serious question of how many people will find precarious finances tipped over the edge by greedy lawyers?

Watchdog hits 070 swindlers with big fine

David Burton

Just stupid punters, huh?

For those who say those phoning back, have you considered that it may be a child or teenager or the like who might not have sufficient life experience to suspect a scam, since an indiscriminate pre-recorded message could readily be picked up by one if their parent is busy?

Also, on many mobiles calling back a normal 07 number wouldn't cost anything (just use up some spare inclusive minutes), so the person would not worry about just wasting a little bit of time if it's a wrong number or the like. They would have no reason to suspect any charge would be incurred. However, a solution could be implemented here to require telcos to highlight that the call will be chargeable before it's connected.

Game sharer gets £16K fine

David Burton

We're going the wrong way

While the US courts are starting to recognise that the 'evidence' collected is insufficient to 'prove beyond all reasonable doubt' that an individual was responsible for filesharing, and that the methods for obtaining names and details for the prosecution are potentially also abusive of the legal process, in the UK we're apparently rushing headlong towards raising the punishments without strengthening the burden of proof.

An IP address does not identify an individual. A broadband connection rarely uniquely identifies a person, since the majority of households have multiple occupants, even aside from whether the IP address records uniquely identify that connection, and whether that connection was vulnerable to abuse.

However, what we see is that it's a civil prosecution, and the burden on proof is considered lower there, becoming more of a balance of exectations. However, I would tend towards the view that where there is more than one person in the household, how certain can you be that the right person is being prosecuted, even with that lower requirement? All that's quite apart from whether the damages are excessive, the demands of money to preclude further legal action being on slightly dodgy legal ground, and the legal fees accounting for a disproportionate amount of the total figure.

The web rip-offs nobody cares about

David Burton

It does sometimes happen, but rarely

It does sometimes get attention, but I'd recommend if you get ripped off by a website to do a search on Google or the like for the site and problems, as when I had a Wii not turn up, I later established that a lot of other people had similar problems, and some had turned up details of who ran the site. The guy's now being prosecuted for 100+ counts of fraud, and his 2 nice houses might be in jeapordy. So it's not always a dead loss - it does require enough complaints about a single person to result in action, though.

Mind you, it's no real surprise that many frauds remain unresolved - things like hacked MP3 players or USB drives that have half (or less) the claimed capacity tend to come from the far east, and the sellers know the authorities won't take action... the worst that would happen is a few buyers get refunded and they have to set up a new eBay account. And when someone gets your card details and starts spending money abroad, nothing gets done for a while... surely it's not beyond the card providers to implement a scheme that allows you to block foreign use except when you specifically log into their site to enable it (for a period of time - next transaction, next 2 weeks, etc).

Hell, just letting you specify individual transaction limits, or an email to notify whenever you pay someone new (so you can instantly spot unexpected new recipients of your money) would be a start.

UK.gov will force paedophiles to register email addresses

David Burton
Paris Hilton


Unlimited opportunity to get anonymous email addresses, so it's unworkable to expect to have a list of all addresses... and quite a few people use domains with catch-all forwarding to be able to use unlimited numbers of unique addresses to easily block particular sources if they turn out to spam - you could hardly realistically expect someone to register every single address they use in situations like that. You could tie up the system just listing ever more addresses. Perhaps register a domain with catch-all forwarding and write a little script to generate lots of possible addresses you could use for them to register... or better still register a number of domains and make it harder to spot they're all from a few domains until they've typed in thousands of addresses and overloaded their systems.

As someone else stated, it sounds like it would also make it very easy to get someone else blocked by supplying someone else's address.

And finally, wouldn't it make more sense to introduce a legal requirement that any machine the offender uses must have a certain piece of software installed and running, and that they could be prosecuted for not following that rule? The software could route traffic via a 'pedo-proxy' so traffic is easily blocked, and could also perform other monitoring or filtering functions. That may be easily circumvented, but at least it's comparatively workable in terms of sites filtering the traffic.

Virgin Media in premium rate U-turn

David Burton
Thumb Up

About time

As a Virgin Media customer, I've been disgusted that when (as happens more often than I'd like) there is a fault on the line or the modem dies (I'm on my 3rd in under a year) then I have to phone a premium number just to report a fault.

And then I have to spend 10 minutes running through the things I've already run through, just to satisfy the customer support person.

And then I have to phone up when the next bill comes through to ask for them to refund the call charge, because they haven't necessarily managed to do that automatically.

I work in tech support - I know what it's like to have people phoning up for general training-type issues rather than to report faults, or just to complain about a known limitation of the product, or whatever. You just deal with it as courteously as possible, and try to keep those 'irrelevant' calls reasonably brief.

Wider London c-charge mooted as road pricing bounces back

David Burton

Vote Boris if you don't hate private transport

Despite coming across as hating motorcycles (because of being willing to ignore significant safety benefits in favour of burying a report that finds in favour of letting them into bus lanes), extending the congestion charge would benefit them, since motorbikes don't have to pay the C-Charge.

Having said that, the demonstrated benefits of allowing motorbikes into bus lanes (nearly halving the accidents involving bikes along the trial routes) far, far exceeds any benefits from making endless more cars pay a congestion charge and hoping a few turn to smaller alternatives. So Boris it is, then.

I'm all for reducing use of private transport and congestion, but it's got to support people working from home, support flexible working hours, invest in substantial public transport capacity increase, and not just demonise and penalise those who don't find public transport a viable alternative. Whether I have to pay the charge myself or not (I don't since I'm on a motorbike), the current hikes on larger vehicles unfairly penalises families and so on who may need a larger vehicle to transport their children, and extending the charge would only make that situation worse.

Road charging, the sequel - Kelly unveils 'wired m-way' plans

David Burton

Private motorways

I'd like to see either private motorways, allowing higher speeds but placing higher controls over the traffic allowed on there, or a genuine fast lane on motorways...

Ideally, have toll routes which allow fast speeds but require computer guidance systems, so it's fast but safe.

Let's look towards using the greater tracking and control to create a benefit, rather than just clamping down harder on motorists.

Bin charging back on as Brown gets dizzy

David Burton

Families pay...

Junk mail is one thing we'll end up paying for, but as it stands larger households will pay more. When it's a family, then there's perhaps only one income already being stretched to support a few dependents, and this will only add to the costs when a lot of toddler and baby meals are even more heavily packaged than adult products (for the amount of food), and that's not even starting on the volume in nappies.

Readers rate Nokia's free Smart2Go satnav app

David Burton

S60 V3 only :(

I tried installing it on a lowly Nokia 6680, and it didn't work. The Series 60 download presumably is version 3 only, which would explain why it doesn't work on the earlier N-series and older Series 60 phones...

It's slightly frustrating that Nokia have released an application for a completely competing platform (Windows Mobile), but not seen fit to support one of their own older ones...

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