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Tony Smith

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Acorn's Electron

Acorn’s would-be ZX Spectrum killer, the Electron, is 30

The Sinclair Spectrum made the Acorn Electron inevitable. In June 1982, less than two months after Sinclair had unveiled the Spectrum - which had still not shipped, of course, even though Sinclair had promised the first Spectrums would be in punters’ hands by the end of May - Acorn co-founder Hermann Hauser was heard talking …
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2013
Guardian's smashed computer

MYSTERY of Guardian mobos and graphics cards which 'held Snowden files'

The Guardian’s picture of the computers it claims to have smashed in order to placate the British government over the Snowden affair has been called into question over both what it shows - and what it doesn’t. Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger yesterday revealed that GCHQ operatives last month paid the paper a visit in order to …
Tony Smith, 21 Aug 2013
Chris Shelton

UK micro pioneer Chris Shelton: The mind behind the Nascom 1

Chris Shelton is not well known today, yet the British microcomputer industry would have been a very much poorer place without him. Never as famous as Sir Clive Sinclair, with whom he worked in the past; Acorn’s Chris Curry, Herman Hauser, Steve Furber and Sophie Wilson; or even Tangerine and Oric’s Paul Johnson. Nonetheless, …
Tony Smith, 21 Aug 2013
Devolo dLan 500 AV Wireless Plus

Devolo dLAN 500 AV Wireless Plus: Triple-tech connectivity for the home

I currently use a cheap - 10 quid from eBay - Cisco four-port 10/100Mbps switch to feed the various devices in my living room that require a wired Ethernet connection to the network. The switch connects to the router, which happens to be one floor up and at the other end of my flat, by way of a 500Mbps powerline link. I’ve not …
Tony Smith, 24 Jul 2013
Quatermass and the Pit

Mars, bringer of WAR: Quatermass and the Pit

“When I wrote the Quatermass stories, I couldn’t help drawing on the forces and the fears that affected people in the 1950s,” wrote Quatermass creator Nigel Kneale in 1996. His inspiration for Professor Bernard Quatermass’ third appearance on television had been the Notting Hill race riots that struck the London suburb during …
Tony Smith, 24 Jul 2013
Leap Motion Controller

Leap Motion Controller: Hands up for PC air gestures. That's the spirit

Can such a small, silver and black gadget deliver all it promises? Talk to the device’s creator, Leap Motion, and it’s clear that plenty is indeed being pledged. The tiny box - at 79 x 30 x 10mm, it’s barely bigger than a disposable lighter - is called the Controller and it will help “break down the barriers between humans and …
Tony Smith, 23 Jul 2013
The Register breaking news

Mass Sony DVR seppuku riddle: Freeview EPG update fingered

There’s still no word from Sony to indicate when it will fix a glitch that put many of its hard-drive-equipped Freeview video recorders out of action this weekend. The problem affects Sony’s HXD series of digital video recorders (DVRs) located across the length and breadth of Britain. Many owners arrived home on Friday evening …
Tony Smith, 22 Jul 2013
Metawatch Strata

Smartwatch makers: You need apps to beat Apple

Smartwatch maker Metawatch has just updated its firmware to version 1.4.0, rolling out a number of bug fixes and tweaks but, most obviously, adding three further watchfaces. These can be previewed and selected using a new version of the firm’s iOS and Android apps, which were posted earlier this week. Both Windows and Mac OS …
Tony Smith, 19 Jul 2013
Pebble

It's all in the wrist: How to write apps for the Pebble smartwatch

Pebble didn’t invent the smartwatch, but it has done more than most to bring the product category to the attention of World+Dog, largely thanks to its hugely successful and well-reported Kickstarter funding campaign. Not only is Pebble’s smartwatch - also called Pebble - the only product of its kind, but it remains one of the …
Tony Smith, 18 Jul 2013
Unreal

Unreal: Epic’s would-be Doom... er... Quake killer

The summer months of 1998 have gone down in history as the period in which Larry Page and Sergey Brin took their PageRank web search engine technology and formally founded a company around it. They called it Google. Microsoft had just launched the internet-centric Windows 98. This writer had started working full-time for a web- …
Tony Smith, 16 Jul 2013
Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013

Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013: All’s well that Haswell

El Reg’s review of the latest 13-inch MacBook Air comes in two parts: here, I take a look at one of the build-to-order configurations offered by Apple, which upgrades the standard 1.3GHz Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of 1066MHZ mobile DDR3 RAM, 128GB solid-state drive specification to a 1.7GHz Core i7 machine with 8GB of RAM and …
Tony Smith, 15 Jul 2013
Ciseco Pi-Lite

Ciseco Pi-Lite: Make a Raspberry Pi trip light fantastic with 126 LEDs

Not so long ago, a hardware hacker called Jimmie Rodgers decided to solder 126 LEDs onto a small circuit board that could be plugged into the Arduino microcontroller kit. He dubbed it the LoL Shield: LoL for "lots of LEDs", and shield because that’s that’s what Arduino add-ons are called. Ciseco Pi-Lite LoL Shield for RPi: …
Tony Smith, 10 Jul 2013
Hanslope Park

Hanslope Park: Home of Britain’s ‘real-life Q division’

Hanslope Park sits just outside the small, quiet North Buckinghamshire village of Hanslope. I grew up there, and the Park and its occupants would always be mentioned by conversing grown-ups in suddenly hushed tones. Who might be listening? Other villagers were quietly pointed out with the words: “You see him? He works at the …
Tony Smith, 05 Jul 2013
National Lift Tower

Love in an elevator.... testing mast: The National Lift Tower

The Tower rises above the flat plain of the Nene valley near Northampton - for centuries home of Britain’s shoe industry, but these days better known as the home town of 11th Doctor Matt Smith, comics auteur Alan Moore and El Reg operations manager Matt Proud - like some kind of latter-day Barad Dûr or Orthanc. The sinister …
Tony Smith, 04 Jul 2013
Bossa Nova Robotics' mObi

El Reg encounters mObi: R2-D2 for retailers

Say hello to mObi, a metre-tall retail-friendly robot that, if developer Bossa Nova Robotics has its way, will be hovering up and down supermarket aisles the world over, checking stock, guiding disoriented punters to the baked beans, and reducing even further the number of employment opportunities open to surly Gen Y-ers. Bossa …
Tony Smith, 03 Jul 2013
Memotech MTX 500

30 years on: Remembering the Memotech MTX 500

Memotech liked to advertise its MTX 500 and 512 microcomputers with a picture of a speeding black Porsche, but the machines, which made their first public appearance 30 years ago this month, while undoubtedly quick off the mark soon slammed hard into an unforeseen wall thrown up by a sudden, severe change in market conditions. …
Tony Smith, 28 Jun 2013

MSX: The Japanese are coming! The Japanese are coming!

MSX: three initials that struck fear into the heart of Britain’s nascent home computer industry. The Japanese were coming, and the UK’s technology pioneers were anxious about what that might mean. Far Eastern firms like Sony, JVC, Sanyo and Pioneer had put paid to Britain’s mass-market hi-fi makers, and others had killed the …
Tony Smith, 27 Jun 2013
Acer Iconia A1-810

Acer Iconia A1-810: The Android tab longing for eight-inch Apple action

The Iconia A1-810 is, of course, an iPad Mini clone. How else could Acer, after years of offering slates with 16:9 widescreen panels, have suddenly hit on the idea that punters want a 4:3 tablet - “the right aspect ratio”, an Acer exec eagerly told me - without being inspired by Cupertino’s latest? Acer Iconia A1-810 Mini me- …
Tony Smith, 13 Jun 2013
Beagleboard Beaglebone Black

Review: Beagleboard Beaglebone Black

It's nice to see that the broader community of Arduino, Raspberry Pi and Beagleboard Beaglebone users is a friendly and seemingly mature one. Each of these board computers has its own adherents, but few of them seem to feel the need to engage in the kind of hair-pulling and name-calling that defined the Windows versus Mac spat …
Tony Smith, 11 Jun 2013
Mattel Aquarius

The toy of tech: The Mattel Aquarius 30 years on

Once described by Creative Computing journalist David Ahl as “a machine so cheesy, they should have supplied rubber gloves to wear while using it”, the Mattel Aquarius was launched in the UK - and went on sale in the States - 30 years ago this month. Ahl, writing up a list in September 1985 of the worst computers to date, went …
Tony Smith, 10 Jun 2013
Lyonesse I and II

Jack Vance: Science fiction’s master of magic, mischief and sex

I was on holiday in the Mediterranean, finishing the third book in Jack Vance’s Cadwal Chronicles trilogy, when I heard of his death at the age of 96. Vance hadn’t written any major works for a few years, but readers and writers of science fiction will be nonetheless poorer for his passing on 26 May, 2013. The first Vance novel …
Tony Smith, 06 Jun 2013
Space Invader

Thirty-five years ago today: Space Invaders conquer the Earth

Tomohiro Nishikado already had a string of almost a dozen arcade games under his belt when he started on what was to become the best remembered - certainly the most played - game he was ever to create: Space Invaders, released in Japan 35 years ago this month. Nishikado was an engineer who had joined vending machine company …
Tony Smith, 05 Jun 2013
Haswell Logos

Inside Intel's Haswell: What do 1.4 BEELLION transistors get you?

Intel’s Haswell processor architecture - formally called the fourth-generation Intel Core architecture, which is what the chip giant prefers we call it - has been in development for at least five years. Here's everything you need to know right now. It first appeared on the company’s product roadmap in the summer of 2008 merely …
Tony Smith, 03 Jun 2013
Acetrax on Samsung smart TV

If you've bought DRM'd film files from Acetrax, here's the bad news

Sky will next month shut down Acetrax, a website that streams movies and offers downloads of DRM-encrypted films to paying punters. The closure has highlighted yet again one of the many flaws inherent in Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology. In this case, users must go through the hassle of downloading all of their …
Tony Smith, 22 May 2013
Pebble

Smartwatch face off: Pebble, MetaWatch and new hi-tech timepieces

If the rumours are to be believed, Apple and Microsoft are both developing "smartwatches" - wrist-worn gadgets that do rather more than simply display the time. The Apple rumours kicked off after smartwatch-pioneer Pebble’s Kickstarter campaign generated kilometres of column-inches, and with Cupertino on the case, it wasn’t long …
Tony Smith, 22 May 2013
LTE

WTF is... LTE Advanced?

Britain now has a 4G network, run by EE, and others are being rolled out. We’re behind the curve, though. The world’s first 4G network, based on the LTE (Long-Term Evolution) specification defined by mobile telecommunications standards-setter 3GPP (Third-Generation Partnership Project), went live at the very end of 2009, and …
Tony Smith, 21 May 2013
Nvidia Shield

Nvidia opens pre-orders for handheld Shield console three days early

Nvidia is now taking orders for its Shield handheld gaming console, three days early, though the Android-running Tegra-powered gadget won’t make its way into punters’ hands before the end of next month at the earliest. Shield, which incorporates a clamshell design to hold a flip-up 5-inch, 1280 x 720 “retinal quality” screen, …
Tony Smith, 17 May 2013
HP SlateBook x2

Tablet? Laptop? HP does the splits with Tegra-based SlateBook x2

HP is to follow its Windows 8-based tablet keyboard combo, the Envy x2, with an Android Jelly Bean version - the computer giant’s take on Asus’ popular Transformer series. Set to ship in August - in the US at least; the UK release is less certain - the SlateBook x2 will be built around a 10.1-inch, 1920 x 1200 IPS LCD screen …
Tony Smith, 17 May 2013
LG.Philips' colour 14.1in e-paper display

Mystery Sony big-screen ereader to sport E Ink bender

E Ink reckons its "Mobius" flexible epaper screen will be the first of its kind to go into mass production, an event the company claims will take place some time later this year. The Mobius will make its debut as a 13.3-inch panel built into a unnamed “digital paper product” made by Sony, which co-developed the panel with E Ink …
Tony Smith, 14 May 2013
Sony Xperia ZR

Which petite model likes a fondle and GETTING WET? Sony's Xperia ZR

Sony has come up with a new waterproof smartphone: the Xperia ZR, which is essentially an Xperia Z with a slightly smaller screen. The gadget giant's other hydrophilic phone, the Z, is, our reviewer thought, “a bit of a slab”. Thankfully, the Japanese manufacturer has launched a slightly more compact model. The Xperia ZR's …
Tony Smith, 13 May 2013
Noggin the Nog

Løvefïlm signs hit beards’n’berserkers series Vikings

British and German fans of horned helmets, dragonships, bloodeagles, forked beards and berserker frenzies will need to avail themselves of a LOVEFiLM LoveFilm subscription if they want to catch the History channel’s popular new historical potboiler, Vikings. The Amazon-owned video streaming service blew its gold-rimmed horn …
Tony Smith, 13 May 2013

'Ultimate nerd chick’ prompts C64 clone cancellation

A damning tweet from one Jeri Ellsworth, described by a Register reader as “the ultimate Commodore 64 nerd chick”, has put the mockers on Project Bread Bin, one retro-tech fan’s dream to build a cut-price Commodore 64-compatible computer in a keyboard case. Earlier this week, C64 fan Daniel Biehl called out to the crowd to …
Tony Smith, 10 May 2013
Commodore 64

Retro-tech fan seeks cash for Commodore 64 clones

A brand new 1982-style Commodore 64 for just $75 (£48)? Yes, it is crazy, but that’s not stopping one enterprising retro-tech fan from trying to make it happen. Daniel Biehl has a Commodore 64 - a real one - but he knows it won’t last forever. So he wants to build a machine that will run all the C64 software out there and work …
Tony Smith, 09 May 2013
Nokia Lumia 928

Nokia teases world+dog with snap of new 4G Lumia 928

Nokia nerds are all aquiver about the Finnish giant’s latest smartphone, the Lumia 928 - but it appears to be little more than a Lumia 920 for US operator Verizon. The 928 model now has a page on the Nokia website albeit with little information beyond a picture of the device which, with the page’s URL, confirms the phone’s …
Tony Smith, 07 May 2013
Star Trek Into Darkness

Movie review: Star Trek Into Darkness

You reboot a popular science fiction series, but you cleverly restart the series’ timeline too, to give you not only a fresh, clean page on which to begin writing a brand new mythology, but also a fan-friendly way to tie it all in to the established continuity. That’s the trick director JJ Abrams - he of Lost fame - and …
Tony Smith, 06 May 2013
Barnes and Noble Nook HD+

Can't beat the Nexus 7? Join it: Nook tablet gets Google Play store

Tablet maker and bookseller Barnes & Noble is to add Google’s digital shop front, Play, to its Android-based Nook HD and Nook HD+ slates. To date, the two tablets, which run Android but keep it buried under B&N’s own UI, have sold film, music and ebook content through the company’s own virtual outlets. Software too has come …
Tony Smith, 03 May 2013
USS Enterprise in Ascii

Star Trek: The original computer game

Ah, the simple pleasures of the earliest computer games - and you don’t get much earlier than 1971. As Star Trek: Into Darkness warps onto UK cinema screens this weekend, we look back at not only the first attempt to bring the franchise to computer screens, but what was arguably one of the most popular, certainly the most …
Tony Smith, 03 May 2013
B&N Nook SimpleTouch with Glowlight

Barnes & Noble bungs Raspberry Pi-priced Nook on shelves

In a perhaps desperate bid to drum up sales, Barnes & Noble is selling its Nook E Ink-based e-book reader for a pound less than 30 quid - a discount of £50. If you want the version with an illuminated screen, it’ll be £69 - £40 less than it usually is. Oh, and the firm’s 9-inch Nook HD+ tablet has also had its price slashed, …
Tony Smith, 01 May 2013
Hoptroff atomic watch

Brit horologist hammers out ‘first’ ATOMIC-POWERED watch

Could this be the chronometrist’s ultimate timepiece, the peak of horological haute couture? British bespoke movement maker Hoptroff today claimed to have produced the world’s first personal chronometer with an on board atomic clock. The result, says Hoptroff, is a accuracy of 1.5 seconds every 3.15 x 1010 seconds - that’s 1000 …
Tony Smith, 01 May 2013

BlackBerry: THE TRUTH about that 5.1 per cent UK market figure

BlackBerry has rebutted a claim that its UK smartphone market share was just 5.1 per cent during the first three months of 2013. It says independent sales figures show it notched up ten per cent of the market during that period. The smaller figure comes from Kantar WorldPanel ComTech, a market watcher, and was released earlier …
Tony Smith, 01 May 2013
Apple iPhone 5

Fanbois vs fandroids: Punters display 'tribal loyalty'

Does how you feel about your current smartphone really inform the handset you’ll acquire two, three or four years hence? The Yankee Group, a market watcher, thinks it might. And that’s good news for Apple. Possibly. Apple currently sits just behind Google in the future purchasing stakes. According to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, …
Tony Smith, 30 Apr 2013

iPhone 5 totters at the top as Samsung thrusts up UK mobe chart

Apple’s three most recent mobiles together took more than a quarter of smartphones sales in Britain during the first three months of 2013, we're told. The iPhone 5 was the period’s most popular handset, but the Cupertino giant's UK market share continues to be eroded by Android - and even Windows Phone 8. Google’s Linux-derived …
Tony Smith, 29 Apr 2013
Xbox Infinity

Next Xbox to be called ‘Xbox Infinity’... er... ‘Xbox’

The next Xbox will be called the Xbox Infinity, if a piccy of an allegedly leaked logo is to be believed. Or perhaps it’ll just be plain Xbox, as a separate, equally unofficial, just as questionable logo suggests. The Xbox Infinity - not actually a name, just the word XBOX with an infinity symbol superscript - and the tagline “ …
Tony Smith, 29 Apr 2013
Atari Portfolio

Ten ancestors of the netbook

Come 2015, we’re told, the netbook will be dead and gone, out-evolved by the more fleet of foot, more desirable media tablet. We shouldn’t mourn the netbook’s passing, though. It has had, in one form or another, a good innings. While some folk may look back to the category’s debut in 2007 with the launch of Asus’ Eee PC 701 - …
Tony Smith, 29 Apr 2013
Fake scratched iPhone 5

PEAK iPHONE? Apple mobe growth slumps to ‘lowest in its history’

Samsung has extended its lead over Apple by shifting considerably more smartphones than its adversary during the first quarter of 2013. The South Korean giant also managed to ship 56 per cent more mobes in those three months than it did in the same period a year ago. Among the world’s top five smartphone vendors, Apple - …
Tony Smith, 26 Apr 2013
Samsung S9

High-rollers’ shop pitches wallet-pounding, wall-pummelling MONSTER TV

Suddenly found yourself with £35,000 in your pocket and can’t think what to spend it on? Wander on down to posh shop Selfridges which says it has the answer: Samsung’s S9, an Ultra HD enormo-telly boasting 4K x 2K resolution. And you’ll get a whole penny in change. Selfridges, which describes the Samsung set as “truly a work of …
Tony Smith, 25 Apr 2013
union_jack

Tough luck, lappies: Brits favour fingersome fondleslabs, phones

Tablets have been outselling desktop and notebook PCs combined here in Blighty, and they could well be about to generate more revenue for their manufacturers too, data from GfK, a market watcher, suggests. Slates have accounted for more than half of the sales volume of computer products in the UK since October 2012, GfK’s …
Tony Smith, 25 Apr 2013
KALQ layout

Boffins KALQ-u-late the ultimate 'board for two-thumb tablet tappers

Boffins in Scotland, Germany and the US of A have calculated what they claim is the most efficient two-thumb keyboard it’s possible to put on a tablet, at least for folk writing in English on a 7-inch slate. Researchers at the University of St Andrews, the Max Planck Institute for Informatics and Montana Tech crunched the …
Tony Smith, 24 Apr 2013
BeagleBoard Black

Black-eyed Pies reel from BeagleBoard's $45 Linux micro blow

Open-source hardware outfit BeagleBoard has formally announced a major revision of its BeagleBone board computer that ups the spec and downs the price. The BeagleBone Black's single-core processor jumps from its predecessor’s 720MHz to 1GHz. It’s a Texas Instruments AM335x system-on-a-chip, which uses ARM’s Cortex-A8 …
Tony Smith, 24 Apr 2013
Corsair Voyager Air

Review: Corsair Voyager Air 1TB wireless hard drive

Corsair has made a name for itself offering solid-state drives, fast memory and other components to fit inside high-performance PCs. But its latest product takes the supplier out of its comfort zone and into the world of smartphones and tablets. It also carries the company into the network-attached storage arena. It’s a good …
Tony Smith, 24 Apr 2013