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Comment Seagate ST-225- 25 years old and still strong... (Score 1) 277

My first hard drive was a Seagate MFM 20MB drive - an ST-225. It still performs flawlessly, and still gets used at least once a month. It still sounds like a small jet taking off... So anecdotally on my evidence the most reliable drive ever is the Seagate ST-225.

You're welcome.

Comment Re:Farewell, good sir. (Score 1) 141

TPoG is always what I recommend as a starting point. My username may well have hinted at this, too....

RIP Iain (M) Banks. Top chap, passionate, principled, erudite, open and most of all entertaining and thought provoking.

Don't ignore 'raw spirit', either - a great book mostly about malt whisky...

Comment Remember Mondex? Or Visa Cash? Thought not... (Score 1) 248

BTDTGTTS. Visa Cash, stored electronic value on a chip (same chip as the debit or credit application) tried this: some cities trialled it, including the one I live in... Visa Cash needed the merchant to settle through the Visa network and was generally loathed because it was too slow to be useful.

Mondex was released before that, and was more sophisticated in that it allowed card to card transactions. This too was trialled in multiple locations.

Both have disappeared pretty much without a trace, usurped by credit/debit card payments - either contactless, or pin-free transactions - or other mobile based payment schemes. I still have the full visa cash specifications somewhere (runs to 5 very fat a4 binders), and the MasterCard Chip Vendor Services program award is used as a paperweight on my in tray...

Nice idea, shame about the implementation reality.

Comment A Great Hack (Score 1) 160

This started life as a wonderful hack to allow limited broadcast of digital information, encoding data into the (supposedly!) non-visible parts of an analogue TV signal.

This lasted for nearly 3 decades, and was only really obsoleted in the days of DVB-T. That's pretty good going, and definitely served a purpose: subtitles, news, stock market information and cheap holiday adverts...

DataBlast, a small magazine that delivered pages of text at 5 per second (I think) during the titles of Bad Influence - a TV programme in the UK devoted to computer games - was probably inspired by Ceefax/Oracle. You needed to record the section on video (remember them?) and then use pause to read the content.

I had the dubious pleasure of writing a system that would genlock and be able to deliver the necessary frame rate live, from an Amiga 1200... Clunky to the extreme, it was canned after 2 seasons because it was so much work still. (My system replaced a system written in AMOS by one of the production crew which relied on hard coding the screens. A step in the right direction, but still a lot of work...)

So respect to the chaps and chapesses that came up with this and managed to fit so much information into essentially dead bandwitdh!

Comment Re:none (Score 1) 423

People want what they already have. "People don't know what they want until you show it to them" - Steve Jobs.

The 'how do I start the program I want to run' paradigm is wrong for the vast majority of people, and not what people are coming to expect from their PCs. Admittedly, the /. crowd might be atypical

They want something that gets out of the way and allows them to do what they wanted to do. I'm running Win8, and after a week of use my view is that it does that better than any other UI.

Full disclosure: I now work for Microsoft.


Submission + - Microsoft forges ahead with new home-automation OS, HomeOS (cnet.com)

suraj.sun writes: More than a decade ago, Microsoft execs, led by Chairman Bill Gates, were touting a future where .Net coffee pots, bulletin boards, and refrigerator magnets would be part of homes where smart devices would communicate and interoperate. Microsoft hasn't given up on that dream. In 2010, Microsoft researchers published a white paper about their work on a HomeOS and a HomeStore — early concepts around a Microsoft Research-developed home-automation system. Those concepts have morphed into prototypes since then, based on a white paper, "An Operating System for the Home," (PDF) published this month on the Microsoft Research site.

The core of HomeOS is described in the white paper as "a kernel that is agnostic to the devices to which it provides access, allowing easy incorporation of new devices and applications. The HomeOS itself "runs on a dedicated computer in the home (e.g., the gateway) and does not require any modifications to commodity devices," the paper added. Microsoft has been testing HomeOS in 12 real homes over the past four to eight months, according to the latest updates. As is true with all Microsoft Research projects, there's no guarantee when and if HomeOS will be commercialized, or even be "adopted" by a Microsoft product group.

Comment Some details (like facts) wrong... (Score 3, Interesting) 642

I'm all for bigging up the best solution, however something really isn't right with this article. Yes, this is slashdot and I'm about to commit Karmacide by defending a Microsoft solution... The author of this article seems at best uninformed at worst out to mislead when it comes to some of these points. Let's pick one.

Advantage: Hierarchical Paragraph Styles.. "since every style is based on Normal"

Let's examine that. The first four properties of a style in Word 2010, sitting open next to me.

-Style type
-Style based on
-Style for following paragraph

So a Style can be based on any other style, or (no style) should you want to start from blank. Does that sound like a hierarchy? It does to me, and I use it as one. Set up what you want. Knock yourself out. It works, and allows you to create a hierarchy.

His piece on list styles/bullets seems slightly ill informed too, as is the tirade on headers and footers, tables of contents... Word can do what is described.

Custom properties, linked to fields, are extensively used by many organisations and what he's describing sounds more like Word than Writer to me. That one has me really confused as metadata management is really quite good in word.

In short, I know Word quite well and I think the 'advantages' that are being proposed as Writer advantages are simply down to the author's lack of knowledge.

I fully expect flamebait moderation for this, but it would be nice if someone could point out where I'm wrong!

Comment Re:Only dinosaurs go to the mall (Score 2) 154

>Anyway, what do you guys have in those old city centers?

In the US, the concept of a city centre as known in the UK, Germany, etc, is utterly alien in the majority of cities. If you want to buy something, you go to a mall... I guess Boston is a bit of an exception, and there will be others too, but shopping = mall.

In the UK, city centres are still surviving - just - but there has been quite a change that I've observed: smaller stores are popping up, which is a Good Thing, and occasionally larger empty stores are being taken on by a load of small, independent traders acting as a co-operative.

It used to be every other shop was a shoe shop (see Douglas Adams!), and more recently a phone shop. Thankfully, that trend is reversing and there's more diversification.

Councils are realising that they must be careful not to kill the centre complete, so are slowly reacting to adjust business rates to be affordable for smaller businesses, and are also realising that city centre parking is an important part of the equation: as an example, Leeds has reduced its parking rates from £2-3/h during the week to £1/h at weekends.

City centres are competing with bright, well lit, under cover spaces that provide free parking but are merely carbon copies of any mall you could find anywhere in the UK, or even in Europe... The city centres are becoming more about independent retailers, and less of an indentikit city: we're not there yet, but my observations are that things are moving slowly that way. And more power to them!

Comment it's not just enterprise users... extensions? (Score 1) 599

Anyone who uses extensions has also been rather knackered by this move. I use 1password, NoScript and a Garmin uploader plugin. All failed to work with FF5 on the day of release.

I have rolled back to 4.0.1 and will move to 5 once all of those things work.

I'm sure, this being slashdot, it will be pointed out they've been fixed already... Well, apart from the Garmin plugin, and they're closed source so that's therefore inherently evil... But that's not the point, really: FireFox has an ecosystem built around it and you can't just shaft that so quickly. Not trolling, but I see no benefits of 5 if it does not fundamentally deliver the web I want, plugins and all!

The Firefox team seem to be feeling a little insecure... ? Opera 11... IE9... Safari 5... Still, at least they can look down on Chrome.

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