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Comment Re:Plan to succeed or plan to fail... (Score 1) 544

Well, my mum died at 48 and my dad died at 67, so it's all anecdotal. As my grandfathers both died at 62 I reckon I'll be doing well if I manage to last until 70!

Just in case I do, though, I'm making sure I have adequate pension provision, both by paying in at work and by using a SIPP, which is a scheme whereby the Government tops up your contributions by 25%. Anything that's left in the SIPP when you die is free of inheritance tax.

Comment Commodore Plus/4 (Score 1) 857

Mine was a (second-hand) Commodore Plus/4 in 1988, for my 9th birthday. It conked out two days later and it took a while to get it fixed.

It was a good little system: 64K RAM, 128-colour graphics, tape drive, disk drive and a printer, plus a programming manual and a shedload of games. The major downside was that nobody else had one and it was pretty hard to find software; bargain bins in small computer shops and boot fairs (not sure what they're called in the US!) were the places to look. My friends all had other computers: a mix of BBC micros (for the posh kids), ZX Spectrums and C64s (for everyone else) and even the odd Amiga.

I owe a lot to that Plus/4 - it had a primitive word processor, database and spreadsheet in ROM, so introduced me to office software. It of course had BASIC and I was able to dabble with code, although it was more of the "guess the number and win points" type of game rather than anything sophisticated.

That system lasted me for 3 years, by which time my dad rescued an old IBM XT from his work (they'd chucked it into a skip). That gave me an interest in PCs and I've never looked back!

Submission + - ARM Holdings to be taken over by Japanese firm (

Retron writes: One of the UK's leading tech companies, ARM Holdings, has been the subject of a hostile takeover bid from the Japanese firm Softbank. The bid values the shares at £17 each, a far higher price than the £11.88 they were worth at the close on Friday.

Chips using ARM technology are used in all sorts of gadgets and devices, from washing machines to iPads.

Comment Playing at school... (Score 1) 351

Early in 1994 (when I was 14) I thought of a masterplan at school. We'd had some brand new 486SX/25 machines delivered and I knew they'd be able to play Doom, the game everyone wanted. We also had a 10Base2 network installed and I'd found they'd forgotten to disable booting from a floppy. Handily, they had DOS IPX packet drivers on the C drive of each machine.

As luck would have it, the head of IT was due to visit a conference in London one afternoon, meaning the IT rooms would be unguarded. I arranged with some friends to "bunk off" of Games, a subject I hated... I was (and still am) rubbish at football, hockey etc. We snuck into the main IT room, left the lights off and got to work. 10 minutes later there was a roaring (albeit mute) game of deathmatch Doom in full swing... we were having a great time of it!

Just as I was introducing my chainsaw to my best friend's face, the door burst open, the lights went on.... and the head of IT walked in, a look of absolute amazement on his face as his gaze moved across the screens. It turns out the conference in London had been cancelled at the last minute.

Expecting the rollocking of a lifetime, all that happened was that he said "Boys, you shouldn't be in here!"
We turned off the PCs and left for the library, in disbelief at what had just happened.

Years later, I suspect that the head of IT was singularly impressed at what we'd got the school PCs to do, but of course he couldn't condone it. I don't know about him, but I ended up logging hundreds of hours at home over the coming years playing co-op and deathmatch Doom (and Doom 2) with friends, family and eventually complete strangers over the Internet.

Happy times.

Comment Not all ISPss... (Score 1) 130

This is even more daft when you consider that it's only the big ISPs that block those sites anyway. Smaller ISPs, even though they go via BT's network, still allow access to them all.

Heck, back when Wikipedia was blocked a few years ago (due to a contentious album cover) I could still access it via my ISP at the time, Entanet... which meant they weren't even implementing the super-secret block list as operated by the Internet Watch Foundation.

Comment Re:It was the first standard for video? (Score 1) 406

It's an Atom, just one that's been rebaged to a Celeron. The performance is absolutely terrible and even a cheap i3 would beat it hands-down! It's a shame Intel have diluted their product range like this as it leads to confusion (as you've demonstrated).

Dual-core Pentiums and Celerons (in the vein of those since the Wolfdale days) are still made, of course, and these days are merely cut-down i3s. The Atom-based Pentium and Celerons are a relatively new invention and the easy way to spot them is to see whether they're advertised as quad-core or not; quad-core Pentiums and Celerons are just beefier Atoms.

Comment Warmest December on record in the UK (Score 1) 256

The weather event of 2015 for me, being in the UK, was the way December was absurdly warm... breaking the record going back to 1659, in fact.

The most amazing thing was that it wasn't broken by a small amount, either; the old record was 8.1C and the new record is 9.7C. I daresay I'll never see anything like that again in my lifetime!

Submission + - UK to ban "unbreakable" encryption ( 1

Retron writes: The Telegraph reports that the UK Government is going to ban companies from offering "unbreakable" encryption, effectively requiring a backdoor in products from the likes of Google and Apple. The reasons given are that they don't want the likes of terrorists and paedophiles to communicate in places the Police can't reach.

Given that Apple especially makes a big fuss of their encryption standards, will they really cave in to the Government's demands? Will the population support the moves? And why is there no mention of Tor or VPNs?

Comment Re:I Wish (Score 2) 99

They do, the i7-5960X is a consumer, unlocked i7 chip. Loads of cache, no integrated graphics and a whacking great price because there's zero competition.

(Of course, the X99 chips are only Haswell, but as the IPC improvements are minimal with Skylake they're still worth considering - especially the 6-core i7-5820K, which is actually cheaper than the new quad-core Skylake i7 here in the UK. The X99 chips are essentially Xeons with some bits turned off and overclocking enabled. They have vt-d enabled, amongst other things).

Comment It's really not much fun... (Score 1) 307

...scrabbling around with a torch to get into your car (and check tyres etc before setting off for work) when it's pitch black because the council's turned off the street light right outside your house!

Thankfully Kent County Council have decided to restore night-time lighting by using LED lamps, so this winter won't be a stumble-fest.

(On rural roads it makes sense, although they tend not to be lit in the first place. For residential areas though I'm far from convinced it's a good idea, especially as they're still left on in the evening - KCC's switching to LED means that longer term it'll cost the same as the half-lighting that goes on now).

Comment It's already been done... (Score 1) 394 British Airways (BA).

BA's business class uses (heavily patented) ying-yang seating in order to cram in extra passengers - it has 8 abreast in its 777s, for example (2-4-2), whereas most competitors have 6 abreast (2-2-2) or even 4 abreast (1-2-1). As a result BA is doing very well for itself in terms of profits!

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