The Register Columnists

Chris Bidmead

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
100 Per Cent Design

WTF is... the Quantified Self?

Feature The woman sitting opposite me on the Tube is reading a book. She turns the page and I watch her hand come up to her face. She strokes her lips, and then the fingertips disappear into her mouth: she’s nibbling the nail of her ring finger. The hand returns to the book to turn the page, but before she’s read halfway down it, the …
Chris Bidmead, 29 Mar 2013

ARM creators Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber

Unsung Heroes of Tech The Story so Far At Acorn, Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber have designed the BBC Micro, basing the machine on the ageing MOS 6502 processor. Their next challenge: to choose the CPU for the popular micro's successor. Now read on... While Sinclair attempted to move upmarket with the launch of the QL in early 1984, Acorn was trying …
Chris Bidmead, 03 May 2012

ARM creators Sophie Wilson and Steve Furber

Unsung Heroes of Tech Back in the late 1970s you wouldn't have guessed that this shy young Cambridge maths student named Wilson would be the seed for what has now become the hottest-selling microprocessor in the world. Ninety-five per cent of today's smartphones are built around an ARM processor. The ARM began with Wilson. Sophie Wilson. Sourc: …
Chris Bidmead, 02 May 2012
Vector Graphic System N

Look back in Ascii: Computing in the 1980s

Retro Week Reg Hardware Retro Week Logo When I landed the job of Doctor Who Script Editor in 1981, I knew I needed a computer. Actually it was something I'd known since the age of 12, but back then you couldn't get started for less than half a million dollars. Now you could pick up a Sinclair ZX81 for a shade under fifty quid in kit …
Chris Bidmead, 24 Apr 2012
Viewsonic PLED W500 portable projector

Viewsonic PLED W500 portable projector

Review Some pieces of kit take a long time to review. Particularly if they're very nice pieces of kit that you're reluctant to return to the PR agency. The Viewsonic PLED-W500 is just such a piece of kit. Viewsonic PLED W500 portable projector Take away display: Viewsonic PLED W500 portable projector I've always liked projectors – …
Chris Bidmead, 01 Dec 2011
The Register breaking news

Moviemakers on a quest for their real-time 3D Holy Grail

The massive blockbuster Avatar reintroduced 3D to the 21st century. The big difference from the previous 3D invasions was digital technology. Optically and physiologically the principle was the same: pairs of frames, representing a left eye view and a right eye view, are presented (near-) simultaneously to the viewer. The 3D …
Chris Bidmead, 27 Nov 2011

Does tech suffer blurred vision on 3D future?

Part 1 With the advent (again) of 3D, the movie industry has over the past couple of years turned big-time to IT for support. Over the same period the TV manufacturers have been looking to 3D to boost sales that started flagging once the first craze for HD has passed. So how are the effects of the current 3D phase showing up on the IT …
Chris Bidmead, 18 Nov 2011
Jim Westwood

Jim Westwood, home micro revolutionary

Unsung Heroes of Tech We all know Sir Clive Sinclair, the sometimes eccentric British boffin whose early simple, cheap and often kit-assembled devices helped usher in the UK's home computer revolution. You may also have seen the irreverent 2009 BBC drama Micro Men, which chronicled Sir Clive's failed battle with his own ex-employee and Acorn co- …
Chris Bidmead, 15 Nov 2011
David Caminer

David Caminer, creator of the first business computer

Unsung Heroes of Tech Business without computers would be unthinkable today. Spare a thought then for those who first made the connection; who not only realised that a computer could be used to run a company, but who also knuckled down to build a system from the ground up and put it to use driving a huge commercial enterprise. This pioneering work …
Chris Bidmead, 27 Sep 2011
David May

David May, parallel processing pioneer

Unsung Heroes of Tech "It's very distressing - I'm watching almost with disbelief. The Americans cannot get it out of their heads that if you're trying to build machines with lots of processors, you don't assume that they all share a common memory. The world doesn't have a common database. We pass messages to one another." David May, professor of …
Chris Bidmead, 18 Aug 2011
The Register breaking news

Number-crunching in the Cloud

Back in the mid-nineties every PC in your organisation potentially contained software that could destroy your company overnight. Not a virus, nor a Trojan: it was called the spreadsheet. The spreadsheet was – and still is – broken by design. The vital raw data it crunches may be exposed to view, concealed behind the cells or …
Chris Bidmead, 24 Jun 2011
Livescribe Echo Smartpen

Livescribe Echo Smartpen

Review We all do it. Business meetings, lectures, interviews, whatever. As a TV writer and IT journalist I've spent a lifetime taking notes. But while you're scribbling, you're not listening. At best, you're missing nuances. Add an audio recorder and you can probably take fewer notes and listen better. But when you play back that audio …
Chris Bidmead, 02 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

Multinationals out themselves as big Aaas fans

Comment The Artificial Intelligence guru Ray Kurzweil believes that technology, accelerating exponentially, is converging on a point some 20 years ahead when in a flash of universal illumination he calls "The Singularity". It will solve all the problems of mankind. cloudillustration Adoption of cloud services is up about 60 to 61 per …
Chris Bidmead, 31 May 2011

The Sandy Bridge Hackintosh

My challenge from Reg Hardware: build a PC, install Mac OS X on it, and explain how you can do it too. Today's Macs use standard Intel-type components. A key difference from Windows is that Mac OS X loads though a boot mechanism known as EFI (Extensible Firmware Interface). Some obscure Apple-proprietary concoction, no doubt? …
Chris Bidmead, 28 Apr 2011
Swiftpoint Futuremouse

Swiftpoint Futuremouse

Review Mice are nice, but you need desk space to use them. The large trackpad on my MacBook Pro is a decent substitute, but regular notebook trackpads usually seem to me too meanly proportioned. And when it comes to netbooks the dancefloor is getting really tight. Swiftpoint Futuremouse Netbook habitat: Swiftpoint's Futuremouse Me, …
Chris Bidmead, 02 Mar 2011
Lexmark Genesis

Lexmark Genesis multifunction printer

Review The Genesis S815 is the latest all-in-one (AIO) printer-scanner-copier-fax from Lexmark that brings a radically different form-factor to the product class. Lexmark Genesis Evolving technology: Lexmark's Genesis It stands a shade over 40cm high on your desk, with a 40cm x 40cm footprint, allowing for the sheet-collector …
Chris Bidmead, 09 Feb 2011

Acer: Alive, and thirsty for Apple juice

Analysis Bought an Acer lately? Chances are you were looking for a modern, well-designed notebook/netbook/desktop/whatever and found that Acer does a good job at a decent price. What you were not doing was buying into the "Acer Lifestyle". Acer Plc is not Apple Inc. But now Acer has pretentions to that end. Number two behind HP in the …
Chris Bidmead, 25 Nov 2010
Viewsonic Viewpad 7

Viewsonic ViewPad 7 Android tablet

Review Viewsonic came up through monitors and projectors, but has recently been branching out, sometimes tentatively, into other devices like the VMP74 network media player and slimline laptops. Now it's set its sights on the rapidly emerging Android tablet market with its new 7in touchscreen, the ViewPad 7. Viewsonic Viewpad 7 …
Chris Bidmead, 22 Nov 2010
Cloud Engines Pogoplug Pro

Cloud Engines Pogoplug Pro DIY cloud box

Review Since Reg Hardware reviewed the earlier version of this device in February, the vendor, Cloud Engines, has made some significant firmware and hardware improvements that justify a second visit. Pogoplug Pro Cloud Engines' Pogoplug Pro: manly colours, this time round The obvious change to this new "Pro" version is the colour: …
Chris Bidmead, 11 Nov 2010
Toshiba AC100

Toshiba AC100 Android smartbook

Review Toshiba is a quarter-century-old notebook veteran, and of late has been known more for solid reliability than elegance or innovation. The AC100 comes as a surprise: a beautifully designed, ultra-lightweight netbook with a 10.1in screen you would be proud to be seen using. Toshiba AC100 Toshiba's AC100: smartbook And here is …
Chris Bidmead, 03 Nov 2010
Dane-Elec myDitto

Dane-Elec myDitto Nas device

Review Perhaps I'm getting cynical, but it's a rare event these days when a product crossing my desk positively fires me with enthusiasm. And when it comes to yet another disk device - we old journos call the subject of storage "snorage" - what could be duller? The myDitto from Dane-Elec is an exception on both counts. Dane-Elec …
Chris Bidmead, 19 Oct 2010
DLNA logo

WTF is... DLNA?

DVD and Blu-ray Disc players, internet radios, sound systems and projectors, TV set-top boxes and the TVs themselves have traditionally been a motley crew, arguing among themselves in so far as they communicate at all, about who should do what and to whom. The noble aim of the DLNA - the Digital Living Network Alliance - is to …
Chris Bidmead, 18 Oct 2010
Belkin Play Max Wireless Modem Router

Belkin Play Max dual-band wireless router

Review The Belkin Play Max has ideas far above its station as a plain old wireless internet router. Its extra song’n’dance talents include a Nas service for USB-attached drives, a media server and a BitTorrent download assistant. But all this depends on your setting it up as your main connection to the internet. And I stumbled on some …
Chris Bidmead, 06 Jul 2010
Viewsonic VMP74

Viewsonic VMP74 1080p media player

Review For most of this century, I've evangelised home movie set-ups that put a lightweight, probably Linux-based player in the living room, leaving your multimedia libraries on a server at the other end of your network. Viewsonic VMP74 Viewsonic's VMP74: compact casing - but what a lot of codecs it contains My favorite player has …
Chris Bidmead, 14 May 2010
Iomega iConnect

Iomega iConnect Wireless Data Station

Review "A new version of Iomega Storage Manager is available," the app announces on launch. "Click here to download it." And then it "quits unexpectedly", as Mac OS X politely describes the event, although this happens every time you run it. Click for the upgrade and install it, and the same message about a new version being available …
Chris Bidmead, 07 May 2010
Virtualisation for Beginners

Virtualisation for Beginners

Hands On VMWare engineer Shawn Morel opens an entertaining and highly recommended seminar on the internal workings of his company's Fusion product for the Mac by dividing up an area of space with a couple of vertical lines. He points in turn to the three segments this creates: "You've got Userland, the Kernel space and Hyperspace." He …
Chris Bidmead, 19 Jan 2010

How to run Mac OS X on a generic PC

Eighteen months ago, if you wanted to run Apple's Mac OS X on a generic Intel box your only option was to fish around on the internet for a hacked version that modified all the relevant low-level calls. And then hope it worked on your hardware. EFiX Mac About panel Not snapped on a Mac Even if you managed to get it up and …
Chris Bidmead, 26 Aug 2009
Digital Vision GiGo DV-DTR1

Digital Vision GiGo DV-DTR1 USB PVR

Review "Today's digital VCR replacement" is how the UK manufacturer Digital Vision describes its new GiGo Freeview set-top box. Designed to sell for less than £70, the device is a granny-friendly PVR with an unusual feature that will appeal to geeks (at least to this one). Unlike the majority of PVRs on the UK market, the GiGo records …
Chris Bidmead, 24 Jul 2009

Getting Started with Avisynth

Conventional wisdom tells us that to be truly useful, computers need to be tamed to work the way we work, not the way they want to do things. Following this philosophy, movie-editing software like Apple's Final Cut Pro and Adobe's Premier emulate reels of celluloid that you can wind through to find your edit points. …
Chris Bidmead, 25 Jun 2009

The Netbook Newbie's Guide to Linux

Episode 5 I opened up my Acer Aspire One again after a prolonged interval while I was involved in a very different project and was puzzled to discover that Live Update was offering me a "Bluetooth patch". It's not just that the hardware doesn't have Bluetooth - that's easily fixed by plugging in a dongle - but even if you do plug in a …
Chris Bidmead, 13 Apr 2009

The Netbook Newbie's Guide to Linux

Episode 4 Book Reader True to its name, a netbook makes a very decent ebook reader. Here's the freely-downloadable Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, complete with original Tenniel illustrations, as it appears on the MSI Wind: wind as ebook reader This is the PDF version of the original 1866 edition, downloaded from There's a …
Chris Bidmead, 22 Jan 2009

The Netbook Newbie's Guide to Linux

Episode Three Considering that Linux netbooks are designed to present a simplified interface that can be used by complete newbies, it's amazing how buzzy hackers have become about them. Even people who wouldn't consider themselves hardcore techies love to tinker under these machines' hoods. Eee Simple Mode Yes, from the hardended hacker's …
Chris Bidmead, 24 Nov 2008

The netbook newbie's guide to Linux

Episode Two This is a series about the Linux OS on netbooks, but we need to remind ourselves that these devices aren't personal computers. The personal computer is a machine you work on. Netbooks are essentially machines you work through, out into the Cloud. It shouldn't matter what the operating system is. Or the hardware. Ideally, all …
Chris Bidmead, 28 Oct 2008

The netbook newbie's guide to Linux

Episode One Thanks to their design as appliances, you can get down to useful work straight away with any of the new breed of Linux-based netbooks. But sooner or later, a fair few folk come up against the unfamiliarity of Linux. And, like the legendary tribe of pygmies, you may find yourself jumping up and down in the head-high long grass …
Chris Bidmead, 17 Oct 2008