Stem cells flee DC for Xanadu

Using very pricey passports

This next story could shed light on why we keep our phone switched on during the most intimate moments: we don't understand how the damn things work:

“Apologists would argue that a modern mobile phone is closer in complexity to a laptop than an iPod, so a less intuitive user experience is inevitable.”

Actually, the phone companies appear to have forgotten that it’s supposed to be a phone.

As it’s complexity increases it’s usefulness at this purpose decreases. How about paying some attention to managing Contacts usably? Or allowing me to schedule calls at a certain time? My old Nokia 6510 could do these things simply and intuitively. My ‘smart’ Nokia 7610 that can’t manage either. That’s why I’m looking for an old phone on ebay.

Nick Wallis

What the mobile industry (and press, to judge by certain articles in The Register) fails to appreciate is how badly they've screwed up the basic functionality of the cell phone.  My relatively old Motorola v60 didn't have a lot of bells and whistles, but it did make phone calls and allow phone book entries to be created intuitively. 

My new Nokia, by contrast, started off in an extremely unintuitive interface mode and requires delving into endless nested menus to do something as simple as change the phone to "vibrate." 

After a few days of using the Nokia, I was practically at the point of wanting to send it back, not for being broken, but just for being irritating. 

I've gotten used to my landline phone company trying to sell me all sorts of useless services, but the basic phone itself has always remained simple, functional, and reliable.  I don't really want or need data services; the only thing I would really use them for is Google Maps, but that's not worth the grotesque extra expense of getting a data-capable phone and data-rate account.

That is, of course, just my humble opinion, not as a "consumer," but as a person who wants to make phone calls away from home.

Regards, Tom

No doubt many reg readers will agree that they are not surprised at  this report.

I work in IT, i can happily set up an SMTP server (amongst others) yet when i got my v3 razr set up for email, even i was struck by the complexity of it. Maybe this is due to the nature of the mechanics involved, but given that many a user will be scared of configuring their email client because of such words as Pop and SMTP unless you have an IT dept on hand to sort out your crackberry or other executive toy then its usually a waste of time, not to mention frustrating.

Perhaps had the operators paid any attention to the way of IT in the last 10 years,  they wouldn't force half baked techology on us. I definitely would have preferred the phone-mp3 players to come along before phone-cameras .. i have never used the camera on my phone... again cos it is half baked and my digital camera is better.

Keep up the good work.


Less entertaining was the news that passports are getting more expensive. Again. Because of biometrics, dontcha know:

I think you might have specifically pointed out that the blatant idea behind this is to make the increase which will occur when ID cards are introduced seem significant smaller...


Oh, only 30% increase? In Switzerland, prices went from 50 Swiss Francs (~ 115 £) to 250 Swiss Francs (~575 £), while the lifetime has been cut in half from 10 to 5 years. That is an increase of *hold my breath* 800%.

-- Matthias

Keep that to yourself, please, or our lot will nick the idea before you can say "biometric anti-fraud measures".

These charges must therefore be because of the set-up costs of the scheme, yes? That ought to mean, once the costs are recovered, it will go back down in price. And, since there is less fraud and making it electronic reduces cost of working with the process, the price ought to go down from the current system.

If it does not, then that is avidence that the scheme has failed.

Or they are using their amazing talking arse routine....


We may never know, Mark, but we can always guess...

The fact that the passport office actually feels the need to justify itself in hiking the prices of the passport by comparing to other countries shows it has a guilty conscience. After all, you don't see the post office in its recent adverts comparing with parcel delivery services when it hikes the price of posting letters - __because it knows 36p (or whatever it is) is still a damn good price for getting your letters from end of the country to the other__ - I couldn't get a bus to town for that.

Ironic isn't it, we want freedom, yet the passport office is selling us our rights to it, a service constructed and funded with our taxes already, and to top it off, will actually do the opposite of its intention and restrict us with biometrics. Why not call a spade a spade - its a freedom tax not a pass, they should call it a taxport.


Science. But only briefly, because this one gave us a headache the first time we read it. Light goes fast, in reverse:

First meta materials, then backwards flowing light, then trilithium crystals... somebody register '' already.

This looks like we're on the verge of taking our understanding of the physical world to a new level. The things it will enable us to create will make magic look paltry by comparison.

If we worked harder towards furthering our understanding of how the world really works, we'd be traveling among the stars by now. Instead we play wars, it's like someone has run out of ideas and keeps rehashing an old yarn.

We really need to shape up and put our mental maturity on the same level as our technological ability. Or else the aliens we're certain to meet are going to say : 'Dude, no way these monkeys built a warp drive. They just stole a ship somewhere'.


And upon the discovery of a continent on Titan, in the Xanadu region, we asked you to refrain from ONJ references. You did, and we thank you.

Several of you mentioned Rush instead, but we'll pretend we didn't see those, and go straight to this:

Xanadu? I think based on that alone, every geological feature on Titan should be named with references to Citizen Kane. Rosebud Valley, Mount Inquirer, etc.. Then maybe when future generations are sucking the methane off the otherwise barren moon, they can say things like "Hey Jim! Get the ship ready over there by Kane Ridge." and we can snicker from the grave.


And finally, a complaint. You know how much we like these. This time, we have been accused of putting overly exciting headlines on straightforward news stories. [They do know this is The Register, right? - Ed]:

Ok, so this is something of a trend I've noticed and it's actually becoming kind of annoying. Ever notice how whenever Microsoft announces some product, way before it's ever to market, all of the sudden it's a competition-killer.

Case in point, the latest article on the Reg for the Zune product. We don't even know what the bloody thing looks like, and yet the headline reads "Microsoft's iPod Killer". Also, when Sparkle was announced, and if you want to go back further to LiquidMotion they were both touted as being Flash killers. Interesting to note LiquidMotion never even made it to market.

While I understand calling something a 'killer is arguably better news and a catchier title... let's just stick to saying what it really is, a competing product.


Because "MS releases music playing product that will compete with Apple's iPod" has such a ring to it?

More on Friday. ®

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