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Bob Dormon

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Generator output meters

Hot racks and cool customers: Colocating in the capital

In a world where data centre duties are increasingly relocated to lower cost territories in the East and beyond, why would anyone want to set up shop in the heart of London? Even if there was a requirement for your data to be UK-based, surely a location in the shires where rents are lower would make sense. City Lifeline …
Bob Dormon, 21 Feb 2014
Her – OS One finds out about Theodore

The perfect fantasy flick for the online Valentine you've never met: Her

Spike Jonze’s movie Her invites us to suspend our disbelief as we acquaint ourselves with the life of Theodore Twombly and the relationship he forms with his computer's operating system. Her – Theodore finds out about OS One Theodore finds out about OS One... During an ordinary day in this near future story, Theodore, played …
Bob Dormon, 13 Feb 2014
Apple 20th Anniversary Mac

Rotten to the core: Apple’s 10 greatest FAILS

There has been no shortage of rose-tinted retrospective adulation marking the 30th birthday of the Macintosh over past weeks. Here at El Reg, we’d be the last to deny Apple’s significance and continuing influence on the history of personal computing. But to put everything in perspective, we thought it was worth looking back at …
Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 ruggedised tablet

Wheee GDUNK! Panasonic's latest Toughpads ready to hit the streets

A few weeks after its unveiling at CES in Las Vegas at the beginning of the year, samples of Panasonic’s mini Toughpad FZ-M1 have finally made it to these shores. The company was showing off the sturdy little blighter in London yesterday alongside its 20-inch 4K tablet which is rolling into production as you read this. …
Bob Dormon, 31 Jan 2014
Lumo Body Tech Lumoback

Quivering, spine-tingling wearable tech: Strap it on and don't look back

If you’ve never had back pain, then thank your lucky stars. It can make a 20-year-old feel like they’re 100 and it’s a sore point that I know this to be true. If you’ll excuse the pun, you’re not necessarily lumbered with back pain as a life sentence, some problems can go away over time but they can just as easily return if you’ …
Bob Dormon, 27 Jan 2014
Sony FDR-AX100E

Sony brings 4K shooting to the masses in weeks

Las Vegas is about 5,200 miles (c. 8,400km) from Blighty’s capital, which makes CES a bit of schlep for all but the terminally keen. Knowing this, Sony UK showcased its finest for 2014 to the UK press this week, from 4K camcorders to er, 4K tellies... with some laptop goodness in between. Most of the laptops we'd all seen before …
Bob Dormon, 22 Jan 2014
HP EliteBook 840 G1

HP EliteBook 840G1: Sometimes it's an Ultrabook, sometimes it's not

At a recent event when HP was handing out Elitebooks and other gadgetry to the great and the good of the UK’s tech press, a thought crossed my mind as the options presented themselves. Shall I go for the eminently portable Elitebook 820 G1 12.5in model or the somewhat chunkier 14in 840 G1? With you, dear reader, in mind, I had a …
Bob Dormon, 17 Jan 2014
Nokia Lumia Windows Phone Update

Nokia Lumia update spreads Black death

Nokia has been rolling out its latest Windows Phone update across multiple territories over this last week, to much fanfare. The update, simply called Nokia Black, offers interface and camera enhancements to a range of existing Lumia handsets, further differentiating its Windows phones portfolio from the rest of the pack. There …
Bob Dormon, 15 Jan 2014
Toshiba Portégé Z30-A-10Z

Light, fast ... and pricey: Toshiba's Portégé Z30 – now THIS is an Ultrabook

When Toshiba Portégé turned up and I lifted the out of the box, I started laughing. Now, I’m not suggesting that the arrival of Toshiba Ultrabook is a joke, quite the opposite in fact. What amused me was just how light it was – a mere 1.2kg for this 13.3-inch machine. I’d prepared myself to haul something heavier, only to find I …
Bob Dormon, 13 Jan 2014

'Leaked' iPhone 6 pics will make cool fanbois WEEP - it's a PHABLET

The days of 2014 haven’t even clocked up double figures yet and already the iPhone 6 rumour mill is grinding out more purported sightings of Apple’s next iOS handset design. This time we get to gaze upon blurry metal chassis images, apparently courtesy of Chinese site CTech, (C科技). Yet following this supposed leak, all and …
Bob Dormon, 09 Jan 2014

iOS motion control iRing here at last ... but it's NOT made by Apple

In 2013, the rumour mill churned out the possibility of the Apple iRing motion controller and 2014 sees this become a reality. However, the iRing isn’t made by Apple but by IK Multimedia, a music technology firm that has an enduring love affair with iOS. IK Mulitimedia iRing iOS motion controller As far as styling goes, IK's …
Bob Dormon, 08 Jan 2014
Acer C720 Chromebook

Acer C720 Chromebook with Haswell battery boosting goodness

You know, sometimes you’ve got to wonder what enables a design to go into production. I’m looking at the Acer C720 Chromebook and appreciating its dinkiness, the non-reflective 11.6in TFT screen and the fact that it was more than happy to take a bog-standard USB Ethernet adapter and run with it. Acer C720 Chromebook Acer's C720 …
Bob Dormon, 01 Jan 2014
Solartron CD 1014.3 oscilloscope

El Reg's contraptions confessional no.4: Yamaha retro synth, valve oscilloscope and more

For the The Register features on MIDI's 30th birthday, Bob Dormon fired up his trusty Atari ST 1040FM and an Apple PowerBook Duo 270c, but there's a good deal more than old computers in his haul hall of vintage tech. Still a novice in the art of chucking things out, here he tunes up, warms up and winds up a few old favourites. …
Bob Dormon, 21 Dec 2013
TomTom GO 6000 satnav

TomTom GO 6000 satnav chews on smarties and tablets

During the launch of the revamped TomTom Go series of satnavs earlier this year, the company reeled off some interesting statistics that revealed a considerable chunk of motorists don’t bother with satnavs - 39 per cent, in fact. And of those 39 per cent, only 4 per cent were considering buying into the technology in the next 12 …
Bob Dormon, 20 Dec 2013
Roberts Revival Blutune

Station to station: Ten DAB-Bluetooth combo radios

When Apple changed its longstanding 30-pin iPod connector to the Lightning interface, an industry died. The ubiquitous iPod dock – that for years had appeared on just about any piece of consumer audio gear – was no longer a necessity and with more Android users out there than ever before, only a few manufacturers would offer a …
Bob Dormon, 16 Dec 2013
Dell Inspiron 15-7537

Our Vulture strokes Dell's ROBUST 15 INCHER: Inspiron 15 Core i7

The appeal of replacing your desktop is not exactly hard to appreciate. For me, a big screen, decent sized keyboard and a measure of portability, all add up to deliver one thing: convenience. So here I am with Dell’s latest Inspiron 15 7000 series laptop and, curiously enough, it is on my lap, all 2.6kg of it. Dell Inspiron 15- …
Bob Dormon, 06 Dec 2013
Asus Transformer Book T100 separated tablet from keyboard

Asus Transformer Book T100: Xbox One? PS4? Nah, get a cute convertible for Christmas

The Asus Transformer Book T100 looks like it’s going to be surefire hit, but not because it runs a quad-core Intel "Bay Trail" Atom processor. And not because it’s a convertible taking on tablet form or becoming and touchscreen notebook in a snap. And not because it runs Windows 8.1 and not one of the original wishy-washy …
Bob Dormon, 29 Nov 2013
Kobo Arc 10HD Android tablet

Kobo Arc 10HD: The bookworm's fondleslab?

If you’re in the tablets game, then delivering hi-res models in various form factors seems to have been this year’s preoccupation. Among the myriad hordes pushing out Android fondleslabs are those in the ebook sector – and Canadian e-ink vendor Kobo has done just that, with a screen that's even sharper than the new iPad Air. …
Bob Dormon, 27 Nov 2013
Apple MacBook Pro 17in 2009 fusion upgrade in 2013

You DON'T need a new MacBook! Reg man fiddles with Fusion, pimps out vintage Pro

I need a new MacBook Pro… or do I? It’s probably a question that many a Mac user ponders and, given the choices these days, is much more difficult to answer. Having just reviewed the MacBook Pro 13in with Retina Display, I’m not sure I’m ready to commit myself to soldered RAM and the hope that upgrades will appear for its custom …
Bob Dormon, 26 Nov 2013
Delia Derbyshire edits on a Philips EL3503 while Desmond Briscoe checks the script

Delia and the Doctor: How to cook up a tune for a Time Lord

As a theme tune, Ron Grainer’s music for Doctor Who needs no introduction. But to describe this unique piece of electronic music as solely Ron Grainer’s composition would be a disservice to the considerable musical contribution made by Delia Derbyshire, who in 1963 set about realising the original score at the BBC’s Radiophonic …
Bob Dormon, 19 Nov 2013
Apple MacBook Pro 13in late 2013

Reg hack fondles a sexy Pro: An Apple MacBook 13in with Retina display

It’s been quite some time since I looked at a new MacBook Pro. However, I spend a lot of my time looking at an old one. I’ve a first generation Unibody model. What a great idea that was. Just unscrew the back for easy access to the RAM and the drive. The battery wasn’t easily swappable, but hey, you could whip the HDD out with a …
Bob Dormon, 19 Nov 2013
Motorola Moto G

Is it all up for LANDFILL ANDROID? BEHOLD, the Moto G

The Moto G smartphone from Motorola has finally landed, as if you didn't know it already with its arrival leaking all over the web from reseller promo materials to Amazon product pages. Still, this sort of thing is guaranteed to get attention. Considering it's all for an Android 4.3 Jelly Bean handset that's a mere £135 ($179) …
Bob Dormon, 13 Nov 2013
Ricoh Theta 360 degree camera

Ricoh Theta 360˚ camera: Point and click immersive imaging

The Ricoh Theta is yet another excursion of photographic fun intended to deliver an immersive environment, on-line, on the move or on the desktop. It’s been tried before – remember iPIX anyone? That idea – which in the mid-1990s became a hit among high class estate agents – is still going, and still pricey, stitching two fisheye …
Bob Dormon, 13 Nov 2013

Like iPads? Like stuff called AIR? Here's our REVIEW ROUNDUP-squared

Apple fans, if you’ve an ounce, make that 6.9 ounces of fanboi credibility, you’ll be reading this from your tired old iPad that you now don't really like any more or shiny new iPhone 5C – yes, the 5C, the one you bought out of loyalty to show everyone that it was cool despite the price. OK, so maybe the fact that when you …
Bob Dormon, 30 Oct 2013
Contour Design Roller Mouse Re:d

Pimp my office: 10 cubicle comforts

Office equipment invariably goes through years of abuse and is often consigned to landfill only after a strategic coffee spill brings about a lethal end to a troublesome or antiquated device. In more enlightened environs, the idea of a kit refresh from time to time isn’t an alien concept, but there is an inclination for simply …
Bob Dormon, 23 Oct 2013

Wait for it, waaiiit for it: We update an Atom tablet to Windows 8.1 Pro

If you own an Atom tablet and you’re pondering on upgrading to Windows 8.1 now it’s out in the wild, then there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that it installs fairly smoothly in my experience. That said, I would advise to send out for pizza and rent an epic movie, the longer the better, as the update takes an age to …
Bob Dormon, 19 Oct 2013
HP ZED London's Hero child stage animator from Mummu

Sketchy Soho denizens get mitts on London superheroes

Vendors are always keen to find appealing ways to attract attention to their products, hosting events that more often than not turn out to be cringingly cheesy. Yet as part of HP’s workstation campaign, drawing upon the talent of Soho’s finest animators to collaborate on a short film project, seems to have hit the right note. To …
Bob Dormon, 18 Oct 2013
Early RCA colour video recorder advertisement

Video thrilled the radio star: Tracking the history of magnetic tape

El Reg's magnetic tape odyssey has covered tape's early beginnings in sound recording in part one and its revolution in computing in part two. In this final part, we look at how film and TV became some of magnetic tape's best customers. The music and computer industries weren’t the only early adopters of magnetic tape. The …
Bob Dormon, 10 Oct 2013
Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite

Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite: 13.3-inch slimline notebook with a secret

It seems an odd paradox that the more a company tries to hide something, the more publicity it attracts. Apple certainly uses this notion to good effect, knowing that it can't keep those secrets indefinitely, but also knowing that when it eventually lifts its kimono, what's new in the garden customarily causes a commotion among …
Bob Dormon, 09 Oct 2013

British Gas robo home remote gets itself into hot water

Energy has been in the news again lately, but not in the way that suppliers would favour. On Tuesday, opposition leader Ed Miliband promised to freeze energy prices for 20 months if Labour made it into power. It’s a message British Gas was keen to forget as it announced its renewed commitment to the connected home in London …
Bob Dormon, 26 Sep 2013
Asus N550JV-CM067H quad-core Core i7 notebook

Asus NV550JV 15.6in full HD notebook - the one we didn't have to send back

When Asus sent the N550 to Vulture Central, I sent it back: the wrong model had been dispatched. Having seen so many tiresome comments following El Reg laptop reviews along the lines of “when I saw it was only 1366 x 768 I stopped reading”, I wasn’t going to proceed with this spec - and with more than these moans as …
Bob Dormon, 26 Sep 2013
3M Lightfalls LED lighting

Lighting bods blind designophiles with LED-powered lounge lamps

At the 100% Design show in London's Earls Court this week, the great and the good from architecture and interior design spent their time gazing into lights. Not just any lights, either: LED lights covered in a thin film based on butterfly wings. LEDs can produce very intense point source illumination, which is great for cyclists …
Bob Dormon, 21 Sep 2013
Pankaj Raut shows results of iMakr 3D printing booth

Mini-Me, stop humping the 'L-A-S-E-R': New 3D tech can make a Mini-You

The way 3D printing enables ideas to move from the drawing board and become actual objects in a matter of hours has certainly inspired designers. To highlight this point, London-based 3D printer supplier iMakr appealed to visitors' egos at the 100% Design trade show in London's Earls Court this week. iMakr 3D printing examples …
Bob Dormon, 20 Sep 2013
Boss Design Group VIS 100 Pod Meeting System

Sofas with a roof and Star Trek seating: The future of office furniture?

I’ve been going to the 100% Design trade show for quite a few years now and there’s always some finely crafted cubicle contraption lurking in the Office section of the event. Unless I’ve developed some curious office consciousness since my last visit, I’d say there are more of these cubicle designs than ever this year. OK, so …
Bob Dormon, 20 Sep 2013
Gira Digital Eye Skype video entryphone

Knock, knock. Hello, delivery person: I am this building's SKYPE OVERLORD

London’s Earl’s Court plays host to 100% Design again this week, the UK’s largest showcase event for architects, designers and manufacturers. It's not all supercool decor, furniture and lighting though, as you'll find some tech gems among the design icons too. Got a Skype account? Who hasn’t? Skype’s great for distance calling, …
Bob Dormon, 19 Sep 2013
IBM 3410 open reel tape subsystem

Tracking the history of magnetic tape: A game of noughts and crosses

America began its love affair with tape following WWII, when Jack Mullin, serving in the US Army Signal Corps, dropped in on German radio broadcaster Bad Nauheim and returned home with two portable Magnetophons and 50 reels of tape. News of his 1947 Hollywood equipment demos reached entertainer Bing Crosby who recognised the …
Bob Dormon, 19 Sep 2013
Buncefield fire scene

Got it taped: The business of tape-based disaster recovery

For many SMEs, tape disappeared from their landscape as a data storage choice ten or more years ago. Domestically, it exists, if at all, as a legacy item with perhaps a car stereo chewing its way through a selection of fondly regarded C-90s. Still, this lack of public visibility by no means indicates that tape has come to the …
Bob Dormon, 18 Sep 2013
LG Ultra HD curved OLED TV

TV's goggle gaggle: EVERYBODY'S first with something at consumer tech feast

If you’re in Berlin and have a tech habit, then IFA, Europe’s biggest consumer electronics show, rages on for another couple of days. On display you'll find all manner of things upon which the consumer tech giants want us to focus our spending – even those that may well soon be redundant. As mobile content viewing explodes, it …
Bob Dormon, 10 Sep 2013
Fritz Pfleumer with his magnetic tape recorder

Reelin' in the years: Tracking the history of magnetic tape

Today marks the 80th anniversary of the first patent filing for a magnetic tape recording medium, though the tech I worked with was a bit more recent than that. Still, it has been quite some time since I last went shopping for tape. I recall the last time as being a deal on a load of JVC miniDV cassettes that I still haven't …
Bob Dormon, 09 Sep 2013
Toshiba Encore Windows 8.1 tablet

Sony unveils Tap 11, the world's SLIMMEST tablet PC (for now)

Tablets, tablets, tablets. There’s one out there for everyone these days or so it seems. On show at IFA there are, er, certainly more tablets than you could shake a stick at – or should that be a stylus? Sony was looking pleased with itself after it was confirmed that its Vaio Tap 11 is officially the thinnest PC tablet around ( …
Bob Dormon, 06 Sep 2013
Sony HMZ-T3W head mounted display

Hands on, er, heads on: We take a gander at Sony's gaming goggles

Is it pride or some futuristic obsession? Just what is it that keeps Sony revamping its HMZ series head-mounted display? It’s certainly not to compete with Google Glass, as this experience blots out everything else – you have no idea who’s going to sneak up and take an Olloclip pic and make you look weird when you’ve got it on …
Bob Dormon, 06 Sep 2013
Samsung S9 110in UHD TV

OK, forget the 3D telly fiasco: 4K is gonna blow you away - say tech giants

We have mixed opinions regarding the merits of 4K TV viewing here at El Reg. It's something that we have covered in scientific detail. In short, the 4,000-plus-pixel resolution looks great for still images, but misses the point for moving pictures. Reality check aside, that hasn’t stopped world+dog at this year's IFA trade show …
Bob Dormon, 06 Sep 2013
Panasonic 4K Toughpad UT-MB5

Hands on: Panasonic bakes a 20-INCH tablet for big biz to swallow

At the IFA trade show this week, Panasonic shed more light on the latest addition to its Toughpad range, a 20in, 4K resolution monster that’s only 12.5mm thick. Yes it’s the same tablet it teased the press with at CES at the beginning of the year, but it’ll be available to purchase before the end of it. Panasonic 4K Toughpad UT …
Bob Dormon, 06 Sep 2013
Samsung Galaxy Gear

Wrist SLAP: Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch hands-on

Plenty has been said about the tech behind the Galaxy Gear already on El Reg, here and here, so what’s it actually like up close? It certainly looks a chunky beast but it’s a good deal lighter than you might think. Samsung Galaxy Gear Looks bulky but feels light and that black circle on the strap is a video camera – yikes! …
Bob Dormon, 06 Sep 2013
Tascam CD-A750 compact cassette deck and CD player combo

Decks and plugs and rock and roll: Tascam CD-A750 cassette and CD combo

The recent El Reg feature on the Compact Cassette's 50th birthday had many a reader commenting on some of the format's former glories. Names mentioned among the dewy-eyed included Aiwa (a favourite in UK studios) and the audiophiles’ choice, Nakamichi, with both producing state-of-the-art recorders with three heads and a lot …
Bob Dormon, 04 Sep 2013
Cassette tape exposed

Compact Cassette supremo Lou Ottens talks to El Reg

As a principal member of the R&D personnel at Philips, Lou Ottens has been behind some of the most enduring audio products in both the analogue and digital domains, from the Compact Cassette to the Compact Disc. In this interview with The Register, Lou Ottens, now in his eighties, recalls the development of the Compact Cassette …
Bob Dormon, 02 Sep 2013
Philips Compact Cassette launch 1963

Happy 50th birthday, Compact Cassette: How it struck a chord for millions

On 30 August, 1963, a new bit of sound recording tech that was to change the lifestyle of millions was revealed at the Berlin Radio Show. The adoption of the standard that followed led to a huge swath of related technological applications that had not been envisaged by its maker; for Philips, the unveiling of its new Compact …
Bob Dormon, 30 Aug 2013
Dave Smith demos MIDI at the NAMM SHow 1983

MIDI daddy Dave Smith: '30 years of version 1.0 shows we got it right'

The Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) specification is 30 years old this month and it's still on version 1.0. More to the point, it still works – with more people using it than ever. In this interview, Dave Smith talks about MIDI past, present and future. It was the combined efforts of Sequential Circuits founder Dave …
Bob Dormon, 28 Aug 2013
Canary Wharf at night

Loads of mis-sold PPI, but WHO will claim? This man's paid to find out

When the opening line of a conversation starts, “I read an interesting number the other day”, it’s fairly safe to assume that you’re talking to someone whose business it is to know about "interesting numbers". Perhaps unsurprisingly, these words were uttered by an economist whose ability to find god gold in the numbers is the …
Bob Dormon, 27 Aug 2013
By Christian H. Ellmaier via SXC and http://www.wabbmedia.com/: Must attribute AND notify author for publication. Obtained via SXC: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=584020

Happy birthday MIDI 1.0: Slave to the rhythm

In part one, the main focus was on MIDI’s myriad data forms and how it began chattering to synths and drum machines, but it was the sequencer that really demonstrated MIDI’s brilliance. In fact, so brilliant it was, that musicians even began to think they were brilliant too by association. Brilliant! It’s early 1988 and it’s …
Bob Dormon, 26 Aug 2013