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Comment: Re:Hail UTC (Score 1) 158

by Retron (#47370571) Attached to: Russia Moves From Summer Time To Standard Time

Same goes for the clock in my fla.

I'm in the UK and I keep my PCs on GMT (or UTC) all year round - I can't see any point in fooling yourself that it's an hour later than it really is. I adjust times on the fly for work and social purposes. One of my PCs runs a weather station and if that automatically changed time then I'd end up with duplicate or lost observations - not good.

This far north you're always going to have a lack of daylight in winter and too much of it in summer, tinkering with clocks won't change that (in London daylight ranges from just under 8 hours in late December to just over 16 hours in late June, but even at midnight GMT at this time of year there's a faint glow on the northern horizon on a clear night).

Side note: I always used to suffer from a lack of sleep in the summer. Once I stuck to UTC it stopped all that and I now sleep soundly year-round. Of course, as far as everyone else is concerned I'm just going to bed an hour later and getting up an hour later in summer...

Comment: Re:And here I'm hoping... (Score 1) 669

"much like they said a year and change ago."
Citation needed!

No, Microsoft have never said anything about client versions of Windows going 64-bit. Various uninformed people have *speculated* that the x86 version would be dropped, but Microsoft have never confirmed it.

Server versions went x64-only a few years ago, but that has no bearing on the client version.

(And bear in mind too the whole "x86 / 4GB maximum RAM" thing is due to Microsoft licensing rather than any technical reasons... 32-bit versions of Windows can use 64GB of RAM - via PAE - if you fiddle with the kernel to remove the restriction. has more info).

Comment: Re:Entitlements vs. consumables (Score 1) 115

by Retron (#46965823) Attached to: How Free-To-Play Is Constricting Mobile Games

Frankly, though, what irks me most is when companies double-dip, or even triple-dip. Some MMOs would not only charge a monthly fee, but also made you purchase the box as well. Then on top of that, they started selling in-store items. Seriously? Thankfully, no one can really get away with that anymore - possibly the only positive thing I can say about the F2P trend.

World of Warcraft is doing pretty well by all accounts - you have to pay monthly for that, buy the base game and expansions as they come out, plus it has an in-game store where you can buy, for example, a flying horse for the "bargain" price of a couple of months' subscription.

EverQuest does the same thing too, but that has far fewer subscribers than WoW.

Comment: Re:Amiga Floppies (Score 1) 171

by Retron (#46833465) Attached to: Previously Unknown Warhol Works Recovered From '80s Amiga Disks

22 years ago I was given my first PC - one which my dad's works had thrown out. An original IBM PC, complete with dual floppies and a mono screen (and cassette port around the back). Sadly it was thrown out a couple of years later when we upgraded to a 486, but I kept the keyboard... an IBM Model F which is built like a tank. It can still, in theory, be used with a modern PC if you use a signal converter... which costs a small fortune. Not that I'd want to, though, as the keys are in odd positions (eg control is where caps lock now is).

I'm typing this on an early 90s Model M keyboard which I bought from eBay many years ago. It connects via a PS/2 port and seems indestructible, albeit not quite as nice to type on as that Model F was. It's quieter than the F though, which is handy. The Model M was available back in 1984... hmm, 30 years ago this year!

Side note: due to spending far too much time on that PC as a 12-year-old, I ended up using the numeric keypad for cursor control. It's a hard habit to kick, as I do the same over 20 years later - I very seldom have numlock on, instead using the numbers above the letters for numeric data entry.

Comment: Broke for me... (Score 5, Informative) 575

by Retron (#46753815) Attached to: Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

I installed the update at work - it worked. I installed the update on my old PC - it worked. Tried to install it on my current PC - failed, after taking something like 20 minutes. It then took another half-hour to revert the changes. (On those machines where it worked, it took only 5 minutes or so to install).

Digging around online showed that fiddling around on the command line with dism might help. The online image is corrupted but it's repairable... that is, until you try and use /restorehealth, at which point it moans that there are no sources. Of course there aren't, it was upgraded to 8.1 from 8.0 via the online store.

So, after faffing around and grabbing an install.wim from an old 8.1 iso I had saved at work (not the 8.1 update 1 iso currently on the MS website) I find that dism won't use the image, even after mounting it.

I couldn't then even attempt to reinstall the update, as it failed immediately. Dism was called upon again to remove the update package, then at least it would let me try again... only to fail. Another 45 minutes wasted.

It looks as though the only way to "fix" it is to nuke Windows entirely, then go through the painful 8.0 > 8.1 > 8.1 with Media Center route. Except, of course, to get Media Center reinstalled you have to buy it again - there's no option I can see to re-enter your Meda Center key again because, guess what, when you upgrade to Media Center your Windows product key is changed. And a Windows 8.1 with Media Center key isn't accepted by the 8.1 iso (or at least wasn't when I tried earlier)...

Looks like a long and boring Easter weekend coming up.

On the other hand, I might just reinstall Windows 7 instead.

Comment: Re:Why are they posting old source code? (Score 1) 224

by Retron (#46581543) Attached to: Microsoft Posts Source Code For MS-DOS and Word For Windows

x86 versions of Windows 8.1 have the MS-DOS 5 based NTDVM in them. Run command /c ver from a command prompt and you'll see it's MS-DOS 5.0.500. Run command /c dir c:\ and you'll see the MS-DOS 5 directory listing (normally the dir command is handled differently, even if you're running command rather than cmd).

As a bonus, every copy of Windows 8.1 - x86, x64, ARM - comes with MS-DOS8. It's embedded in diskcopy.dll and is used when you format a floppy disk as an MS-DOS startup disk. Why it's on the ARM version I have no idea!

Comment: Whereas a few thousand miles away... (Score 3, Interesting) 112

by Retron (#46309299) Attached to: VA Tech Experiment: Polar Vortex May Decimate D.C. Stinkbugs In 2014

And on the other side of the Atlantic, the strong jetstream (caused by the abnormal cold in the eastern States) has led to one of the mildest and wettest winters on record in England. I was surprised when last weekend I saw swarms of newly-hatched flies buzzing around the fields of Berkshire; you don't normally see those until late March or early April. To see them in mid-February is quite remarkable. We'll be in a for a miserable spring and summer over here as there will be far more insects buzzing around than normal due to the almost complete lack of frost this "winter" (and I use the term loosely, as for millions of us in the south of the UK it's just been an extended autumn this year!)

Comment: Re:Sort of (Score 2) 249

by Retron (#46138525) Attached to: Windows 8.1 Passes Windows Vista In Market Share

8.1 also has a load of inconsistent mush. Click the volume control - get a Windows 7-style popup. Click the network icon - get a Metro thing pop up. Open Media Player - see Windows 7 shiny style controls. Icons in Explorer are still from Vista (3D, nicely drawn) whereas the window controls were changed to an 80s-style flat look just before release. Except, that is, in MDI programs which still use the Aero Basic theme from Vista. Oh yes, insert a memory stick and you'll be invited to "tap to choose" what to do with it. Very useful on a traditional desktop PC! Adding some code to say "click" instead of "tap" if no touch input is available must have been too hard to do.

Windows 8 was an utter mess. Windows 8.1 has done little to improve things, it's still a confused bundle of touch, Metro and Vista.

Hopefully Windows 9 next year will get things back to some sort of consistent, polished feel. Until then, if you're on Windows 7 with a traditional PC/laptop I'd say you're better off just sticking with it. Doubtless there'll be some cheap upgrade offers again when 9 comes out.

Comment: Re:!HP (Score 1) 474

Not really - "died" is traditionally the upper-class way of saying "passed on". As Wiki says, although the original list of U vs non-U English terms is obsolete in some ways, in others it's still a good indication of class (at least in the UK, I'm not sure how much that applies to the US!) has more info for those who are interested.

Comment: Re:Greetings from EU (Score 1) 767

by Retron (#45961835) Attached to: Incandescent Bulbs Get a Reprieve

I'm in the UK too and the CFLs I have make the house look like it's an underground car-park - they're horrible things. They're better than they were 15 years ago (when we bought our first one), but they still give out a horrible light compared to incandescents.

Luckily I have a stock of Osram 100W bulbs for the living room, so that at least continues to have a decent, warm quality of lighting. The Chinese-made "rough service" bulbs (which exploit a loophole to get round the rules) are universally terrible, I've gone through a dozen and none lasted more than 2 or 3 weeks.

Comment: Incandescents (Score 1) 944

by Retron (#45786063) Attached to: 60% of Americans Unaware of Looming Incandescent Bulb Phase Out

Over here in the UK 100W incandescent bulbs were phased out around 4 years ago and 60W bulbs not long after. As a result my house now has a mixture of old incandescents and newer CFLs, as well as a halogen bulb or two. The halogens give a harsh light and the CFLs make the room look like it's lit like a multi-storey carpark - not exactly a "homely" look. The living room still has two 100W incandescent bulbs but due to the ban they're becoming really hard to source; there's a loophole where less-efficient 100W bulbs can be sold (as "rough service") but they only seem to last for a few dozen hours rather than 1000 or so. Whether that's because they're cheap Chinese tat or whether it's because they genuinely aren't made to work indoors I couldn't say.

Thankfully old pre-ban bulbs are still available on eBay etc so I've stocked up with a couple of years' worth... hopefully by the time they run out alternative lighting will finally have caught up with the quality of light you get from an incandescent.

Comment: Bad PR for Zavvi (Score 2) 617

It's interesting to see the wide variety of responses to the story. I guess the only way we'll ever know the exact legal situation is if the case makes it to court, but I'd bet that Zavvi will try anything they can to settle out-of-court in order to save themselves the chance of receiving even more bad PR.

It's one of those situations where Zavvi can't win. If they let the person keep the Vita then those who sent them back will be annoyed. If they set the legal eagles loose then it'll just generate more bad PR for them. Zavvi itself had loads of bad PR a few years ago when the original company went bust; it was one of those situations where gift cards weren't honoured during the administration period and the media was full of people moaning about the company. That didn't bother The Hut, though, who bought the rights to the name and then set up a new online shop.

FWIW, my thoughts are that it'd be pretty obvious upon opening the packaging that a Vita+game had been sent rather than just a game. As such, I'd have felt pretty guilty if I'd tried to keep the Vita and I'd hope that I would do the obvious thing and send it back, although it wouldn't be at my expense (a pre-paid Special Delivery label would be my request, as that way the returned package would be insured - sod's law says that it'd go missing on the way back and then you'd have no Vita, no game and would still have the company hounding you for its return!)

The whole sorry mess could have been alleviated by giving a gift voucher upon the return of the Vita, or some other token to say "sorry for messing you around". Doing it the way they did just leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth!

+ - British retailer mistakenly sends Vitas, threatens legal action to get them back

Submitted by Retron
Retron (577778) writes "The BBC brings news that British retailer Zavvi mistakenly sent out PlayStation Vitas to people who had preordered a game called Tearaway. It's now threatening legal action against those who have kept theirs despite a request to return them. It's unclear whether the Distance Selling Act protects consumers who have mistakenly been sent an expensive item and forums such as Eurogamer seem divided on the issue."

Power corrupts. And atomic power corrupts atomically.