Tuesday 24 March 2009

A message for Lexmark.

Dear Lexmark people,

Nice printer. Really. It, you know, prints. And scans. Great. But I would just like to mention this one little issue with your software — which, apparently, the printer can't do without.

400MB? Four hundred meg? Four! Hundred! Meg! Are you completely deranged? I've got operating systems smaller than that. Just how bloody egotistical must your programmers be to assume that I'm willing to give up that much of my hard drive just so's I can print the occasional document? You utter, utter bastards.

Love & kisses,

Squander Two

Friday 20 March 2009

In which I continue to resist the Iphone.

I would just like to say that I have got one of these Nokia N810 Internet Tablets. And it is a superb piece of kit. One of my colleagues immediately spotted the potential for a good portmanteau word: "Wablet". And so that's what I've been calling it.

I also got a collapsible Bluetooth keyboard to go with it. It is also excellent.

While the whole world heads in the direction of convergence — putting everything into the same device — Nokia, bless 'em, have spotted that there is a market for divergence. So the Wablet isn't a phone, but can seamlessly use your phone's connection when it needs it. In fact, the Wablet connects to the Net through your phone with even less effort than it takes to connect a Nokia phone to the Net directly. Go figure. Anyway, the idea is that now, instead of a huge bloody great clunky phone like what I used to have, I have a lovely sleek little phone (which is also impressivley superb, by the way) and the Wablet. This means that I have choice: I can take the Wablet when I want the computing power, or I can just take the phone by itself when I don't need all that extra stuff and am short of pockets. Having spent a few years with big phones, I'm really appreciating this.

I can't be bothered writing a full review — it would be a waste of time anyway, as there are loads to be found on the Web, and they're all pretty-much right. But I'll just say a couple of things about it.

Firstly, if you're thinking of getting a netbook because you want a really portable computer, then, if you're happy using a version of Linux instead of Windows, this thing is far far smaller and more portable than any netbook. I can put it in one pocket and the keyboard in another.

Secondly, if you have no patience for geeky tinkering, it might be an idea not to get one. If all you want to do is browse the Web and check email and listen to music and look at photos, then it works absolutely perfectly out of the box (well, after you update the firmware, anyway, which really was very easy). If you want to install other apps, well.... They all supposedly install very easily with just a couple of clicks. Some of them, however, do silly Linuxy things like telling you that they need a different library and expecting you to know what the hell to do about it.

On the other hand, because its browser is so good, any app that can run from a browser can run on the N810.

Apparently, it's possible to install the full version of Debian Linux on it and then you can run any app Linux will run, including Openoffice — which would give you a full word-processor in an incredibly small package. I might just have to give that a try.

Technical details aside, just for sheer fun, this is one of the best gadgets ever. I tried an Iphone once, and was surprised to discover, being an Apple fan, that I didn't like it. Just didn't get on with the interface for some reason. Took to the N810 like a duck to water. Some of the third-party apps for it may be a bit buggy, but the operating system itself is just lovely.


One of the many things that I can't stand about modern politics is the attitude of civil rights and privacy campaigners. While they are right on many issues, they always manage to kick up the biggest stink and get the most publicity when they are completely wrong, which makes them look like weirdo lunatics, which in turn means that no-one listens to them when they're right. This is one of the many reason why we're getting that bloody ID database in the UK.

They're at it again with Google Streetview:

Privacy campaigners are to launch a legal challenge against Google's new Street View service which shows 360-degree photographs of public roads.

... campaigners claim it violates the right to privacy and could be used to plan crimes.

Yes, obviously it could be used to plan crimes. So can cars. And cameras. And telephones. And maps. And pencils. And a decent education. Let's ban them all.

As for the right to privacy, I have to say this is news to me. I always thought that I had a right to privacy when I was in, you know, private, but not so much when in public. Try masturbating in the street outside your local primary school and see whether the police will respect your right to privacy.

Simon Davies, of Privacy International, said: "These images are being captured without people's permission for commercial use, and we believe that it is not legally acceptable.

"They are also putting into place a system for updating these images in the future, and for storing the images digitally where they could be misused."

Yes, the images are being captured without people's permission. But no permission is needed, as they are photos of public places. If the outside of your house was private, you wouldn't need planning permission to have it cladded in aluminium and covered in red floodlights. (I'm still fighting my council over that one.)

I wonder if Simon Davies has ever taken a photo of a building, such as the Eiffel Tower, for instance. I wonder if he's ever taken a photo, perhaps while on holiday, in which passers-by appear. I wonder if he asked permission first.

Simon Davies, Privacy International, you are idiots, and you are helping to make the world a worse place. Sod off.

Sal Brinton, Liberal Democrat and would-be MP, is also an idiot:

She said: “I was astonished when I saw the detail of the photographs held in Google's database.

“The detail is very clear.

Yes, it is. It's almost exactly as clear as a photograph. What, exactly, was Ms Brinton expecting to find when she first logged on? Charcoal sketches?

“The example that was drawn to my attention was that of one of our candidates who 'googled' her home address to find a picture of her car sat outside her home.”

Oh. My. God. I take it all back. That is shameful. I am shocked, shocked, I say....

And in a recession, too.

It is utterly irresponsible of Google to have released Streetview. It is entirely possible that no-one with a computer will ever do any actual work ever again.

Apart from the people working on the Streetview team, of course.