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Letters Your biggest worry this week was the weather. How commendably British of you all. Naturally this was prompted by the BBC's stunning decision to rid the world of clearly legible weather maps, isobars and weather fronts, and introduce new graphics, apparently to confuse and upset the punters. Especially those in Scotland, who quite reasonably point out that they can hardly see their fair country the way things are arranged now:

There's a question about the BBC's new weather map which has been puzzling me, and perhaps you can answer. The BBC weather presenters show you what is happening by "flying" beneath the cloud level, and then showing you where the cloud cover is by highlighting the cloud shadows in brown. So what happens when you have fog, or the cloud base is at ground level? Trying to view the weather in Scotland if your eye-level is at 0 metres on the Isle of Wight would be somewhat difficult I imagine........

Darren


The Scotland problem on the weather maps appears to me to be the result of showing a picture of a curved earth (not entirely bad in itself) with the virtual camera aimed rather too nearly parallel to the equatorial plane.

So the earth curves away, and Scotland is foreshortened.

From my own fiddling with 3D graphics, I suspect the 3D virtual globe is too small, or perhaps the BBC is using a wide-angle virtual lens on the camera.

And, while a lot of people don't care about isobars and fronts, some people really do care.

Dave


Of 60 million people, just 240 complained!?! I complain to the BBC all the time, and it almost never makes the news. Why just today I wrote to complain about their web video formats. Why isn't everyone using .mp4 yet? Why streaming? Real and WMV? When will it end?

I like the new weather map. Now instead of just getting - fog, wind, rain, sun, clouds - we get to *see* the fog get blown out by wind which sucks in some rain and is followed by sun and then cloudiness. (To be honest, I don't watch the weather. I just assume each British day will include all possible weather variations. British weather reports really *are* a bit pointless.)

But give them credit - they made the land a earthy colour and the water a blue colour. It's amazing how often people design maps and paint the land blue! And we wonder why people end up thinking the UK is a lake on the edge of a vast desert.

Orville

Uhuh. Keep taking the pills there, Orville...


*sigh*

Another perfectly sensible system which has been screwed-up royally by people trying to be "sexy".

It's like the London Underground ripping out all of the current maps and replacing them with "a geographically-representative, 3-dimensional representation of the network viewed from an isometric perspective, cunningly printed on holographic paper to confuse people even more efficiently than ever before"...

If it's not broke...

Joe


Biggest problem with the BBC's weather? You just couldn't see what the weather was going to be like in your area *and when*. The time ticked over, then the map moved, then the time ticked again, then the map moved again. Nothing wrong with the third dimension, but when you sling in the fourth and need to get the TARDIS to help you decrypt the information just so you can work out if it's worth throwing a bit of miracle grow on the lawn this evening, it's all gone a bit too far.

Peter


We do want our weather flat with some basic detail not over the top fancy graphics which adds no value, just confusion .. the flying country view makes my wife feel quite sick so we have to turn over before the weather now.

It’s not a Luddite thing either .. I love beautiful graphics (Mac user ;-) but in the case of a weather forecast it is highly distracting which means I end up knowing nothing about the weather to come ... it defeats the point of the forecast in the first place and breaks one of the basic rules of user interface design - don't upset or surprise your audience ! I mean is a weather forecast about giving information about the weather or demonstrating the talents of an Xbox 360 or PS3 ?

- Richard

And amid the wails of anguish, a lone dissenting voice cries out:

I think your rant is extreamly biased, I've been waiting for weather reports like this for years, those old ones with the symbols don't mean anything, a cloud that covers the entire north west region isn't very good at all.

I think your just stuck in your ways and don't really like new technollogy and new ways of doing somthing so traditional as weather reports.

Martin

Yeah, we hate technology. You can tell just by reading our, erm, website...no, wait...


Many people will mourn the passing of ATM. Just to clarify, that's not automated teller machines. Perhaps we should have explained...

It's a shame ATM may become extinct. I know our communications networks lecturer said it stood for A Terrible Mistake back in 2003, but it really is good for non-synchronous backbone networks due to its inherently fast switching speed. And it can't have been that bad, he based our coursework for that module on a sensor network running on ATM.

John


They had better not. I use the ATM to make deposits from my newly acquired wealth at Man Utd. Have you ever stood in line at a bank? (That's queued to you!)

Malcolm Glazer

Note: we suspect this is not the actual Malcom Glazer. Just thought we ought to mention this for the sake of completeness.


Also upsetting you this week are the astonishing prices people are willing to pay for concert tickets. Legitimate or otherwise:

Maybe the headline should have been 'legitimate on-line ticket sales fleece punters' as even approved / legitimate sources rip us off.

Yes i am talking about booking fees, and credit card fees. Firstly, what is a booking fee? Is this the equivalent of a buying fee... imagine going to the checkout of a supermarket and being told "that's 20 pounds and also 2 pounds as a buying fee"....

And credit cards... a fee for using a credit card, when that is the only option? Not all purchases add the credit card fee on top separately, so why should ticket sales.. It should be a law that accepting credit cards is a fee for the merchant not the consumer.

If people are silly enough not to shop around on the net for a good price then more fool them!! Good luck to the clearly capitalist folk who have the gaul to try and charge those prices!!!

Jeremy


I don't know which is more surprising, that some people are willing to pay over £400 to see U2 or that the retail price is £80! The gigs I go to are much over a tenner, I'd expect around £25 for a *really* big group in an arena.

It saddens me that they (touts and retailers alike) can get away with such ridiculous prices... but that's supply and demand I guess :(

rob


It's a simple statement but do they intend to stop or enforce it?

Look at tickets for Glastonbury in the UK, Splendour In The Grass in Australia or many of the equivalents in the USA. If you don't get a ticket within 20 minutes for many shows they are sold out. The tickets then appear on e-Bay minutes later. This is made worse by insiders who sell tickets at many times the face value for premium seats before the mug punter can even get access.

Unless and until the vendors and promoters do something more to stop sales to people who only want to make a profit any statements to stop buying from scalpers will continue to be ignored.

Dave


Stolen good showing up on eBay is not a new occurrence, but only rarely does it happen that you find you own pinched kit online, as happened with one woman and her iPod, this week. But iPods are not the only fruit:

I also retrieved a lot of stolen items from eBay - although this time, they were somewhat rarer and easier to spot. I'm a professional juggler, and my precious fire juggling clubs, stilts and sound equipment were all stolen three years ago. After I put the word out on the Net to the juggling community someone in Ireland spotted the fireclubs for me. Although we never traced the thief, we got back around 2/3 of the equipment from an 'eBay trader' who had bought them from a car boot sale.

I recognised the fire equipment mainly because they were still in the original bag, containing an old instant coffee jar I used to fill with paraffin to fuel the clubs....

Charlie


This just shows in a nutshell what's wrong with DRM - get your own ipod stolen and have to pay to repopulate it... its a pity you didn't think to mention this - maybe to shame apple into getting her her songs back.

Robbie


Microsoft's decision to patrol the net with so-called "honey monkeys" has got you all in a flutter:

Sorry if I am seeing too many 'black helicopters', but Microsoft sending out honey monkeys just sounds like a cover a story for the new MSN search service. How on earth else could they explain the fact that various MSN bots (suppose they must be running on Windows) have now managed to have taken 160,000 pages off our site in the last two weeks, while we only have about 25% of that number as actual pages. Why they needed four copies, we don't know. But thinking they fed a honey monkey is a prettier picture than a blue screen of death and a frustrated Microsoft techie wondering how he will ever get search working.

Simon


"We will tell them, you are being watched," Duhhh... what? Well that's really going to make them change their ways. No, the only way to deal with these people is to firewall them into their own intranet, or (my preferred option), precision munitions.

Neil


Suggestions that HP might, once again, be about to break out the pink slips in a bid to bring its costs under control have left many readers particularly unimpressed. Carly is dead, long live Carly, seems to be the sentiment:

In stark contrast to his predecessor our new CEO plans to increase shareholder value by endless rounds of cost reduction, eliminating all factors identified as non-revenue generating.

As employee morale generates no revenue at all, we have to decided to completely eliminate this within HP, though due to outstanding efforts by his predecessor, this will be little other than a mopping up operation.

Plans are currently being considered to reduce cost to zero by closing the company completely, thus of course sending shareholder value skyrocketing.

Our new uber-CEO can then be paid many tens of millions for his sterling efforts. That's value for money! The rest of us will be attempting strap ourselves under a train to Mumbai in order to compete in the new global economy.

Squeegee yer window guv?

Anon


So what do HP do again? Apart from making plastic printers and sacking lots of people?

There was a time when HP were regarded as inventors and innovators. Who killed the vision?

Roop

A question almost as unlikely to be answered as the commonly asked: "Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar...?"


We told you about a clever bunch of scientists who've made a battery that could last for decades. Seems the full implications of such a discovery had passed us by:

Your story about the 10-year nuclear battery should be under ROTM, not science. The implications are far from academic.

<!-- ...in case the machines are reading...RSS=remote surveillance system?

Surely this development is one step away from a free-breathing post-holocaust silicon lung? Those machines at Skynet/University of Rochester hardly need more excuses to launch the nukes, but the prospect of a radioactive atmosphere to free them from Duracell-slavedom is just too tempting.

Philippe M(iles?) Fauchet must be stopped!

-->

John

We admire your alertness, John. We have put him on our watch-list.


Lastly, a neat suggestion for the imaging scientists working to uncover the secrets of Titan, moon of Saturn. Having trouble getting a geological feature to come into focus? No problem. Ian has the solution:

Why don't they run those pictures through them "algorithms" that we see on CSI? Then we would have a very clear picture!

Ian

Class. That's it for now. Enjoy le weekend. ®

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