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Guy Kewney

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RIP Personal Computer World

Comment - Updated If you could find the subscription list of Personal Computer World Magazine (PCW) in its startup year, 1978, you’d have a Who’s Who of the UK tech business today. The mag has died – killed by the banking recession, and Private Equity leveraging – but the industry it kick-started will always remember it. I was a founder …
Guy Kewney, 11 Jun 2009
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No writing on the wall is bad news for the GSMA

Comment I've been trying to work out what GSMA does – apart from Mobile World Congress, that is. The list is rather impressive: it does a lot of very wonderful things. The trouble is, all of those splendid projects seem to depend on MWC being a financial success. I can't see much else that makes money for the GSMA. I can see a lot, …
Guy Kewney, 23 Feb 2009

What if computers went back to the '70s too?

A Wizard whispers in your ear: "The password of Sheffield Library Packet Switching Service is ABC1234XYZ." That would be a conversation thirty years ago, on the Multi-User Dungeon, or MUD. The Dungeon was actually a minicomputer at the University of Essex. I won't tell you the name of the wizard, because he's a big noise in the …
Guy Kewney, 29 Nov 2008

Get ready for the coming data centre crunch

"If there's going to be a theme of the Press Summit this year," mused one delegate on the flight to Portugal, "then it's going to be power, and heat." He should have been right. We covered femtocells, 100-gig Ethernet, managed wireless, specialised security-oriented operating software for network switches, media gateways and ( …
Guy Kewney, 30 Sep 2008
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'Idiot' pulls cables, downs ISPs at Telecity

A hamfisted worker at colo provider Telecity shut down "several" ISPs and their customers across the country when he started pulling plugs at one of its datacentres late last night. The hapless wire-scrapper then proceeded to make matters worse, by trying to fix the mess himself. El Reg hasn't been able to discover the …
Guy Kewney, 18 Sep 2008

Axon takes 100mpg wonder car for a spin

It's just a car. it's called Axon, and it's just a car. It has a petrol engine, four wheels. So why is it supposed to be the greenest breakthrough in the automotive sector? "Because it can do 100 miles to the gallon with less than half the CO2 emissions of an average car," said Steven Cousins, the founder of Axon. Axon …
Guy Kewney, 17 Sep 2008
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Cambridge tech boss rips gov over innovation cash

The head of one of the UK's top innovation centres has predicted a future for British citizens as impoverished peasants, painted blue and dancing for tourists because funding for high tech innovation has been pulled. Walter Herriot, Director of St John's Innovation Centre in Cambridge he said, the money needed for this operation …
Guy Kewney, 17 Sep 2008
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Mobile broadband: What's it for?

In the next few weeks (hint: CTIA is in three weeks) I'm expecting mobile operators to be offered a new tool, which will allow them to work out what on earth their mobile broadband customers are doing. The mystery, however, is not "what is this tool, Guy?" - all will become clear quite quickly. What is mysterious is the answer …
Guy Kewney, 26 Aug 2008
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Operation Sprogwatch: Keeping tabs on the kids

It's every parent's dream - reliable and easy-accessed information on what your offspring are up to. Electronics systems such as Spyphone II 8210 actually allow you to dial into your child's mobile, and eavesdrop on their conversations. And now, there's the "buddi", which will track wherever the brats go, showing a GPS path …
Guy Kewney, 22 Jul 2008
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Thieves take out Cable & Wireless centre

Updated Cable and Wireless's Watford network site went offline at 1am this morning, after thieves apparently stole vital equipment. Several Reg readers emailed us to report the outage when websites hosted at the Watford centre suddenly went kaput. They were told robbery or vandalism caused the downtime. The outage has been blamed for …
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An iPhone with a keyboard?

It is an article of faith, of course, that whatever Steve Jobs does is right. And so, since the iPhone currently has no keyboard on it, it must logically follow that it is wrong to have a keyboard, and therefore that Steve Jobs will never produce a version that does have a keyboard. Fervent fans can therefore see no reason to …
Guy Kewney, 30 Jun 2008
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It's time for a close-up look at mobile porn

Column Apparently, someone has discovered that you can watch videos on the iPhone, and that "videos" includes "porn." Mobile porn... wow. So I asked a purveyor of photo-porn on the web what made the iPhone special for his customers. "No idea, but we think it's the zoom," he said. "You can get to see the detail, you know?" What we …
Guy Kewney, 24 Jun 2008
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The web rip-offs nobody cares about

Column The problem with web crime is "who cares?" It doesn't matter if we're talking about identity theft or credit card fraud, if it's done to you, you may well have to weep alone. The simple economics of crime make it impossible to show a payback for any individual scam. Take the simple question of buying something off a web " …
Guy Kewney, 24 Apr 2008
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Futurists predict a world of IT fairy tales

Here's a nightmare vision of a technology-driven future: Terrorists may attack the internet and the Windows environment, bringing work to a halt globally. A virus placed by terrorists blocks the internet and operating systems worldwide or diffuses through firewalls and systematically deletes huge quantities of business and …
Guy Kewney, 17 Mar 2008
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Qualcomm and the real story behind Mobile World Congress

Analysis The story behind the story is always more interesting, somehow, than the story itself; and the story behind last week's Mobile World congress wasn't just the obvious stuff about backhaul capacity. Instead, people were mumbling furtively about piracy - intellectual piracy, that is. You know, like intellectual property, but …
Guy Kewney, 20 Feb 2008
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Do we need computer competence tests?

Column Indignation is the immediate response if you suggest to any computer user that they should be given a licence to use their PC only if they pass a test. Why is this? When someone crashes a car on the motorway, naturally, our first response is to utter words of sympathy: "Oh, hope they're not hurt..." - but what we're actually …
Guy Kewney, 21 Jan 2008
graph up

Price war looms in corporate 100Mb market

A corporate Ethernet price war could be on the cards, with a newcomer using Next Generation Network (NGN) technology to offer 100 megabit Ethernet for £800 a month. Commercial Internet and other services have been, traditionally, based on legacy systems and up to six months ago the bulk of customers were asking for managed MPLS …
Guy Kewney, 15 Jan 2008

Who's archiving IT's history?

Column The relaunch of the IT History Society (formerly the Charles Babbage Foundation) exposes a problem which the Web has brought to journalism and historians - stuff is not being preserved. There are people, however, who are trying to build proper records of the past. The question is whether this works. The IT History Society is …
Guy Kewney, 21 Dec 2007

Commuters shouting into their mobiles? Just jam 'em

Column When a columnist starts off "Silent, but deadly..." you know he's trying to be funny; and Matt Rudd's recent praise for phone radio jammers is, clearly, not based on the fact he doesn't know what SBD actually means. Anti-social behaviour on trains these days isn't limited to producing methane; it is more commonly believed to be …
Guy Kewney, 26 Nov 2007

21CN: It's not the data saviour

Column It does seem to be a rule of data processing that we use all we can get of it. As BT starts to test its 21st century networking (21CN) with partners like Entanet, it's a safe bet that this rule will mean the dream of universal high speed data will turn sour as people try to squeeze more data through a limited pipe. The world of …
Guy Kewney, 27 Oct 2007

Dot, squiggle, plop

Column My first response to the idea of a dot-sex web domain was: "Well, that's a rip-off". And when I heard about dot-tv and dot-euro I wasn't the only one to say: "Here we go again..." And I bet most of us were equally cynical about dot-asia. I mean, most people in Asia don't actually use the Roman alphabet and so (I sort of assumed …
Guy Kewney, 23 Oct 2007
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Mobiles give you brain cancer?

Column Call me sensitive if you must, but when someone starts talking about wireless and keeps using the word "radiation" I tend to suspect an agenda. So this week when Occupational Environmental Medicine used headlines such as "Using mobile phones for more than 10 years doubles risk of brain cancer", my first respose was to search …
Guy Kewney, 15 Oct 2007
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The RIAA will come to regret its court win

Column You can understand why an unpublished writer might resort to blooking; but when a successful author with a best-selling business title behind him gives away a chapter a week, it piques curiosity. Gerd Leonhard is an ex-muso, with a message for the recording industry. Judging by the RIAA's triumphant win receiving $220,000 in …
Guy Kewney, 08 Oct 2007

IPTV over wireless? Why not?

Interview You want cheap Wi-Fi? "You'll get what you pay for," warns Selina Lo. "Wi-Fi makers are in denial. The system doesn't work properly, and will get worse." Thank God, she says happily, "for manufacturers like us!" No, overweening modesty isn't her major personality flaw. And as CEO of Ruckus Wireless, her third start-up company …
Guy Kewney, 01 Oct 2007
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Keeping a Hawk-Eye on those miserable Wii kids

Column The idea that Britain is the worst place in the developed world to be a child has been popping up in comment pieces ever since February this year, when The Children's Society announced its new website. This month for the first time, computer games were added to the list of demons tormenting British youth. Most technology- …
Guy Kewney, 13 Sep 2007
graph up

Blogging: made in England?

Column Here's a quote from an interesting time in the past: ten years ago. You know, a decade back, 1997, when (It says here) 'Jorn Barger, who started his Robot Wisdom weblog in 1997, is "regarded by many" as the "first blogger".' Was he heck. The first blogger was Rupert Goodwins. He started his blog in 1996 - and very popular it …
Guy Kewney, 31 Aug 2007
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Climate change: looking for a haystack, not a needle

Column Weather forecasting. It's the archetypal "science doesn't know jack!" cop-out for mystics who think climatology isn't a science. Amuse yourself. Google for "climate change" and "weather forecasts" together. Among the many rants with LOTS OF CAPITALS and many exclamation marks, you'll find over 1,000 comments to Heidi Cullen's …
Guy Kewney, 21 Aug 2007

Silent bandwidth battles at BT

Column We could have a nice little fight building up (in a quasi military sense, too) between BT and the armed forces, because of BT's "secret" plans to close down its legacy ISDN digital network. The reason it's military, sort of, is that BT is still full of soldiers. OK, that's not literally true, but it's effectively the case: an …
Guy Kewney, 13 Aug 2007
Witch hat

Harry Potter and the Virus of Doom

Spoiler Alert A lot of people have been wondering what Harry Potter's future is really like. I have the answer: he's going to be an amateur detective. But nobody will know this, because he'll be working in a tech support call centre for Weasley Computers. The End of Harry Potter is really just the end of Potter the Schoolboy. The nice, …
Guy Kewney, 10 Aug 2007

Linux database becomes a browser

The fashion for "web mashups" just got a steroid boost with the release of a browser that is really a desktop database, with full SQL scripting and the ability to manipulate tabular data found on the Internet. The browser, Kirix Strata, started life two years ago as a Linux desktop database, said Kirix founder and president, …
Guy Kewney, 07 Aug 2007
SGI logo hardware close-up

I bumped into that Alan Sugar on memory lane...

Column Alan Sugar reminds me of Hugh Laurie. In the same way that you look at the star of Jeeves and Wooster and House and think: "What a remarkable actor - but he'd have made a brilliant musician!" I look at Sir Alan and think: there goes the man who could have been one of the best journalists in the country. Two of my wealthiest …
Guy Kewney, 02 Aug 2007

Gmail: a short, sharp rant

First person Is arrogance a job requirement when trying to join Google? This story starts with me being furious. "I was bloody furious when my email provider suddenly, and without warning, started bouncing incoming messages." You would be, wouldn't you? Call me fussy, but I've been told this is the sort of thing which can give a small, …
Guy Kewney, 26 Jul 2007
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A handy guide to growing your own spaceship

Column If you were one of the SETI at home crowd - three million PC owners worldwide, all trying to scan radio signals from space to find alien transmissions - you may have missed the news that gives us (yes, I was one!) hope of really reaching the stars. I'm thinking of building a living starship. The news came from a report on The …
Guy Kewney, 26 Jul 2007
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Why the iPhone is a success

Column Two weeks after the iPhone virus started spreading, the verdict has to be that Steve Jobs has got it right. The trick with launching a new phone is "keep it simple". He's done that. No, this is not the phone I want, and neither is it the right MP3 player, but it will be a success, and that success will grow as new variants …
Guy Kewney, 12 Jul 2007
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eBay chokes on iPhones

Some were boasting from their camps outside Apple stores before the iPhone rush began, of how much money they would make on eBay auctions; and apparently, at least one optimist let it be known that $2,000 would be needed to buy a $600 iPhone. According to Katie Hafner, stringer for the New York Times, "Thousands of listings …
Guy Kewney, 09 Jul 2007

Euro iPhone launch will reveal 3G handset for Vodafone, T-Mobile

A new 3G (European) version of the iPhone will be launched Monday in the UK by Apple - in a joint promotion with Vodafone, T-Mobile of Germany, and Carphone Warehouse. It should answer the disappointment with the US version of the iPhone which has been widely slammed for its poor performance as a phone. Hints of the European …
Guy Kewney, 29 Jun 2007

Fon VoIP network being disrupted by protest over Wi-Fi adverts

Why are people "moving" their FON routers into the lake? It's because of a clever idea - or so it seemed: let people "earn" 15 minutes of free Internet time on the FON Wi-Fi network by watching adverts. A FON user, Claudi, kicked off the protest on the FON discussion boards: I just realized that fon allows 15 minutes of free …
Guy Kewney, 29 Jun 2007
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Gartner reaps iPhone backlash after making business case

Analyst firm Gartner stuck its neck out in a raw bid for fame this week by writing to every comment-writer and saying: "Quote us!" - and then going on to slam the iPhone for not being a business tool. Quoting Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney saying: "This is basically a cellular iPod with some other capabilities, and it's important …
Guy Kewney, 29 Jun 2007
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Seeking common factors in the Web 2.0 bubble

Column Boy oh boy! - has Andrew Keen upset the world of Web 2.0. I'm tempted to tell him: "Things change. Deal with it." but instead, I'm going to suggest you watch a talking rabbit discuss the end of the world and American culture. Because he does have a point: the whole Web 2.0 crusade is based on the assumption that "reality" TV …
Guy Kewney, 29 Jun 2007
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Hotspot prices to fall after Boingo goes global with WiFi

WiFi pioneer Boingo is passing the 100,000 hotspot mark, with a new WiFi service "providing international business travellers with access to more than 100,000 locations around the world for one low monthly cost with no roaming charges and no per-minute fees." The key detail, however, will be the decision to go flat rate. The …
Guy Kewney, 27 Jun 2007
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Harry Potter and the Pedant of CIX

Column What's the worst thing you can say about Harry Potter? How about claiming that spells are rather like computer programs? Or how about saying that Slytherin, the school house for all the bad guys, is a "cliche of fantasy"? Or maybe, pointing out that the name of Alecto (the female half of the brother-and-sister Death Eater gang …
Guy Kewney, 21 Jun 2007

Why is Hotmail so bad at spam?

Column I'm trying very hard to be sympathetic towards Hotmail, and I'm failing, badly. It's not the Microsoft connection that makes me fed up, it's just Hotmail. Here's today's inbox: From my contacts: 2 (2) RE: Online Canadian Pharma... RE: Daily News If you believe I have a contact …
Guy Kewney, 15 Jun 2007
The Register breaking news read it if you dare

Book review OK, I'm going to let you in on some of the secrets of how the internet was built. Kieren McCarthy No? OK. So, let's see: It's about the American legal system and how it can crush innocent...still not interested? How about the growth, and theft, of the pioneering porn site, SEX.COM? Yes, web porn, the inside dope. Ah, thought …
Guy Kewney, 31 May 2007
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Can we have a proper study of Wi-Fi, please?

Column Well done, Sir William Stewart. Only four weeks ago, we called for serious research into wireless radiation. The good news: Sir William Stewart - chair of the Health Protection Agency - has said that the time has come to do this research. My only problem with this is that I honestly doubt any useful information is going to …
Guy Kewney, 22 May 2007
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About that TV service, Mr Branson...

Column Dear Richard Branson, I don't know why on earth I'm writing this to you, because I happen to know it's got nothing to do with you. But the message may be of interest: "Virgin Media, farewell!" I'll be dropping my subscription to Virgin Media just as soon as my Virgin phone starts working again and I can contact customer …
Guy Kewney, 14 May 2007
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Latent problems with people, not networks

Column I have a useful hot air detector. It listens for two or three keywords and marks the output of anybody using them as suspect. For example, "video conferencing", or "artificial intelligence", or "cheap fusion power". So when the new managing director of BT Global started his presentation Q&A last week by waving his arms about …
Guy Kewney, 10 May 2007

Corporate wireless and alphabet soup

Column It's always been a bit of a mystery to the average corporate PC user: why, if Wi-Fi runs at nearly 60 megabits per second, can you still plug several Wi-Fi access points into a 100 megabit Ethernet socket and drive it from your 8 megabit broadband ADSL router? Shouldn't you need several 100 megabit lines - one for each access …
Guy Kewney, 08 May 2007
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Orange boss walks out

Orange boss Sanjiv Ahuja has walked out of his "operational responsibilities" as CEO, remaining as chairman of the UK board. He's replaced by Olaf Swantee an ex-Compaq customer services VP with HP. "After four fabulous years with Orange, I want to let you know that I am stepping down from my role to take on new challenges …
Guy Kewney, 26 Apr 2007
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Dark mutterings on killer Wi-Fi in schools help no one

Column Dear Sir William, Please: either shit, or get off the pot. When it comes to Wi-Fi radiation, there's one comment from the anti-radiation lobby that I agree with: "We need another official inquiry - as authoritative as the Stewart reports on mobile phones." What we don't need is vague waffle of the sort which says that "Sir …
Guy Kewney, 24 Apr 2007

Missing the PowerPoint of public speaking

Column The oxymoron "interesting PowerPoint presentation" was offered as a small witticism a few months back. I thought it was good, and shared it with a friend, who reacted angrily: "Blame the workman, not the tools," he said. Frankly, (I told him) I disagree. Powerpoint inherently ruins a presentation in 95 per cent of cases. We've …
Guy Kewney, 16 Apr 2007