Bill Ray

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Inside the reactor copyright, Dounreay Site Restoration LTD and Nuclear Decommission Authority

Come on kids, let's go play in the abandoned nuclear power station

Geek's Guide to Britain On the northern tip of Scotland stands Dounreay – 74 hectares of nuclear site encompassing the world's first fast breeder reactor, and one of the first nukes to be wired into a national grid. Built in an age of optimism – an era that wanted to turn the destructive power of The Bomb into energy that was too cheap to meter – …
Bill Ray, 26 Jan 2016
facebook_shock_648

Facebook Messenger: All your numbers are belong to us

Facebook started 2016 with the bold claim that it intends to eradicate phone numbers and replace web browsing, but the Social Network has a mountain to climb before Facebook Messenger becomes the centre of our online world. That’s the stated intention of the Zuckerberg empire – to replace all our myriad internet communication …
Bill Ray, 20 Jan 2016
New Lanark photo via Shutterstock

Get thee behind me, Satanic mills! Robert Owen's Scottish legacy

Geek's Guide to Britain The European Route of Industrial Heritage marks New Lanark as an anchor point in the global development of textiles and architecture, and so it is. Nestled in the Clyde Valley the village owes its existence to the falls that were harnessed to refine raw cotton sent in from the colonies: a picture-postcard image from a time …
Bill Ray, 11 Aug 2015
Vodafone adds payment cards to mobile wallet

Can't wait to bonk with Apple? Then try an Android phone

Four years ago, your reporter paid for cookies with a mobile phone. Now, with Apple poised to bring some wrist action to bonking cash, we thought we’d take a look at how the competition has evolved. We’ve been trying Vodafone SmartPass, and discovered that things haven’t improved much over the last four years. In fact, …
Bill Ray, 24 Apr 2015

Saturn's rings, radio waves ... poetry? At home with Scotland's Mr Physics

Geek's Guide to Britain Say the the word “radio” and the mind goes to Guglielmo Marconi, the Italian emigrant whose work on the watershed of Cornwall and the Atlantic Ocean helped turn wireless into the defining medium of the early 20th Century. But radio wasn’t invented by Marconi – or any one person. Rather, it was discovered, and the man who drove …
Bill Ray, 06 Apr 2015
Google Wallet 'vision' illustration

Google's Softcard hookup: Never mind Apple Pay ... it's about beating the networks

Comment So Google Wallet will come installed on Android handsets in the US. It is an assault on Apple Pay, but it's also end of a dream which saw operators as custodians of the electronic wallet. That dream started in 2007, when SIM manufacturers hit on the idea of embedding a secure transaction element into the SIM, connected to the …
Bill Ray, 24 Feb 2015

Powering the Internet of Stuff – by sucking electricity from TREES

Feature Despite regular headlines about self-powered gadgets and a deluge of stories claiming that any day now we should expect our smart phones to start gathering power from the environment around us, the promise of harvested energy always seems just out of reach. Or is it? We may not be charging our gadgets in our Wellington boots …
Bill Ray, 29 Jan 2015
Tek Gear Twiddler III remote handheld keyboard

Come and Twiddle Tek Gear's one handed keyboard

Review Over the years a plethora of keyboard alternatives have crossed the El Reg hardware desk, but none has had the utility, or longevity, of the Handykey Twiddler. This third incarnation has been a decade in the making, and arrived a year late, but with small hands and a willingness to learn it could make wearable computing …
Bill Ray, 21 Jan 2015
3D Robotics drone in Richard Branson's house

A drone of one's own: Reg buyers' guide for UAV fanciers

Heard the hype and want to buy a drone — just uncertain which model to pick? Well, forget the hardware, the devil is in the software. Drones are cool, undeniably, but with prices starting at four pints of lager, and running to a small house it's tough to decide what's worth buying. So El Reg has been chatting to some drone …
Bill Ray, 15 Oct 2014
LG LTE

LTE's backers vow to KILL OFF WI-FI and BLUETOOTH

Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, weightless and Sigfox, not to mention GPS and TETRA: LTE’s proponents plan to make every one of them redundant, while also ensuring their own advanced wireless standard becomes the only one anyone, anywhere, will ever need. And all this by March 2016. Long-Term Evolution's supporters have never hidden their …
Bill Ray, 08 Oct 2014
Virgin Media Satellite acquisition

Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?

Feature On 18 September, the people living in Scotland will vote in a referendum to decide if we should to slice the top off Great Britain and create a separate country. If that happens, and once the locals sober up, Scotland could be a country with universal broadband, a publicly owned postal service and mobile coverage which would be …
Bill Ray, 29 Jul 2014
Bosch Indego

Who needs a ride-on mower when a ROBOT will cut your grass

Review In December last year the UK's biggest DIY chain started stocking its first robot lawnmower. That's an insane time to try out grass-cutting technology, so we waited for June to get a proper look at the latest in automated high street grass maintenance. Bosch Indego Tennis court need a trim? Bring on the Bosch Indego The …
Bill Ray, 24 Jun 2014
Tablet PC and Hantarex CRT monitor

El Reg's contraptions confessional no.2: Tablet PC, CRT screen and more

Cache in the Attic Before wandering to pastures new, Bill Ray revealed he is definitely of the mind that, if it still works, why chuck it? His old kit isn't sitting in a box in the attic, he uses it all regularly. Hantarex, HP and Motion Computing Hantarex hails from Italy but established a UK operation in 1981 and is still going strong. The …
Bill Ray, 07 Dec 2013
The second Sonic Screwdriver

Build your own WORKING Sonic Screwdriver... for a UNDER A FIVER

Doctor Who @ 50 The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver has become steadily more iconic as the years progressed. Despite disappearing in the middle of the Time Lord’s career, it’s now firmly – not to say commercially – integrated into the Doctor Who canon. So there’s no more to say on the subject, right? Wrong. Earlier this year, the Sonic …
Bill Ray, 15 Nov 2013
Picture of a Hong Kong scout

Ging gang cloudy? IBM programmer packs it in for life as an online Scouts badge-tracker

Every week around 400,000 UK Scouts, Cubs, Explorers and Beavers meet and complete activities which contribute to potentially hundreds of badges - but the software which tracks their progress comes from a single enthusiast who saw a problem and created a solution. Ed Jellard was, and still is, a volunteer scout leader. He set …
Bill Ray, 08 Nov 2013
Cartoon of Bill Ray, wearing hat

Reg mobile correspondent Bill Ray hangs up his Vulture hat

It's Friday afternoon and my last day as a reporter for The Register. After well over 4,000 articles, and seven years, I'm hanging up my hack's mac and filing away my Press card. I'm not jumping ship to The Telegraph or taking a seat at the New York Times as some of my colleagues have, partly because they never offered me the …
Bill Ray, 25 Oct 2013

Ofcom: By 2017, even BUMPKINS will have superfast broadband

Ofcom's annual report on the state of Blighty's infrastructure promises "near universal" superfast broadband by 2017 with only the most gentle of regulatory nudges. Seventy-three per cent of UK premises are already getting "superfast" broadband, with BT's Fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) available to 57 per cent of UK properties …
Bill Ray, 25 Oct 2013
VoLTE compatible: LG Revolution

Broadcom sheds 1,150 workers in race to bundle 4G silicon out the door

Chip maker Broadcom will shed 1,150 jobs as it struggles to keep selling 3G tech while getting its 4G product line out of the door. Revenue growth in the third quarter of 2013 was fairly flat for the company, which ships system-on-chips and communications ICs for use in mobile gadgets: sales were up a smidgen on last year to $ …
Bill Ray, 25 Oct 2013

Samsung GROVELS ABJECTLY to Chinese state media

Samsung has apologised to China following an investigation by amusingly-named state telly channel CCTV, showing the South Korean firm's deference to the world's biggest market. The problem outlined on the programme appears to affect Samsung models including the Galaxy S3 and Note 2, apparently damaging the storage memory …
Bill Ray, 24 Oct 2013

Call me maybe: Orange loses a segment as competition bites

Former French monopoly mobile operator Orange has reported that its earnings and revenue are both down, despite increased customer numbers, as price-cutting hits the bottom line. Orange, the operator formally known as France Telecom, has customers around Europe and Africa, but not in the UK where it remains part owner of …
Bill Ray, 24 Oct 2013
AT&T logo

AT&T bags 363,000 new customers ... where did THEY come from?

AT&T has had a jolly three months, banking $3.8bn in profits and adding 363,000 new contracts. But it remains unclear from whence those new customers have arrived. Not only is the US's second-biggest network* growing, it's actually growing faster than it used to. AT&T's profit for the same quarter last year was a healthy $3. …
Bill Ray, 24 Oct 2013

Locked into fixed-term mobile contract with variable prices? Not on our watch – Ofcom

Mobile operators who try to increase the price of a mobile phone contract during its term must now allow locked-in customers to escape, says Ofcom. The regulator's new rules kick in from the end of January, and only apply to new contracts, but all operators offering fixed-term contracts will have to provide 30 days' notice and …
Bill Ray, 24 Oct 2013
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM)

Just HALF of 10m iPhone, Android BlackBerry BBM app downloads activated

Ten million people have apparently downloaded the new BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) app for Android or iOS in just 24 hours. But with activations being metered out in half-million lumps it will be a while before they can all start chatting. The app, which brings BlackBerry Messenger to Android and iOS gadgets, was launched on …
Bill Ray, 23 Oct 2013
balaclava_thief_burglar

Met Police vid: HIDE your mobes. Pavement BIKER cutpurses on the loose

Video The Metropolitan Police have put out a video showing just how easy it is to steal a mobile telephone, as long as one has a scooter and a mate to go pillion. The video demonstrates three grabs, caught on CCTV cameras and shared with the public to help them see just how easy it is to lose a mobile phone, at least until the …
Bill Ray, 23 Oct 2013
Google 'Glass' patent application illustration

Microsoft boffins test rival 'Google Glass' geek goggles, say insiders

Microsoft is working on a competitor to Google Glass: it's apparently sourcing parts and refining designs while it waits to see if there's a market for tiny screens perched on one's nose. The news comes from the Wall Street Journal, which has been chatting to the loquacious people "familiar" with Redmond's insides. These …
Bill Ray, 22 Oct 2013