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Micro Men

Micro Men: The story of the syntax era

Monitor is an occasional column written at the crossroads where the arts, popular culture and technology intersect. Here we look back at the BBC TV movie Micro Men, a retro-tech fan favourite which tells the story of the rivalry between former colleagues Sir Clive Sinclair and Chris Curry, and how the two men kickstarted the British …
Tony Smith, 14 Feb 2014
Cat 5 cable

Time Warner merger great for Comcast, but not for anybody else

The merger of the two biggest cable companies in the US has set the markets aflutter, but the government has the final say on whether to allow the deal, and regulators will now be taking a long, stern look at how the deal with change the US TV and broadband market. Under the terms of the merger, Comcast will pay out $45.2bn in …
Iain Thomson, 14 Feb 2014
Amstrad CPC 464

You’re NOT fired: The story of Amstrad’s amazing CPC 464

Archaeologic It was a home computer that embodied so many contradictions. It was launched months after the British microcomputer boom of the early 1980s had peaked. It was a rush job: the machine that was revealed to the press in the Spring of 1984 hadn’t even existed nine months previously. It was one of the best-produced British micros of …
Tony Smith, 12 Feb 2014
Apple 20th Anniversary Mac

Rotten to the core: Apple’s 10 greatest FAILS

Feature 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 …

'No, I CAN'T write code myself,' admits woman in charge of teaching our kids to code

+Comment The government's "Year Of Code" scheme to bring computer programming into schools for children as young as five has degenerated into a political bunfight. "The word 'coding' has been hijacked and abused by politicians and media who don't understand stuff,” the Raspberry Pi foundation’s director of educational development and a …
Andrew Orlowski, 11 Feb 2014

Think wearables are the next tech boom? Cisco's numbers beg to differ

Last year, according to IDC, world smartphone shipments passed the billion-unit mark, making up more than half of a global market of 1.8 billion mobile phones. By 2018 we'll be buying 2.3 billion phones a year. By now you probably also know that plenty of folks suggesting tech giants will find The Next Giant Market by dropping …

Nudge Unit flies into Nesta's arms: Is the hype justified?

Analysis No 10's controversial "nudge unit" has been spun out into a company - but it hasn't fallen far from the nest. The 16-strong Behavioural Insights Team (as it's known) will become a private entity and will be able to tap into cash originally set aside for fledgling inventors. It will then sell its services back to the government …
DayZ survivor game

The revival of survival – the gaming genre that refuses to die

Game Theory In these times of austerity it seems ironic that my free time is being taken up with trying to survive death by hunger and cold. Next I'll be nicked for dumpster diving behind Iceland. I am, of course, in the grips of day 48 of Don't Starve, a perfect gem in the rash of survival games popping up on Steam. Early Access on Steam …
Lucy Orr, 4 Feb 2014
Neanderthal display in museum

Is modern life possible without a smartphone?

Mobility Archaeology I suppose the first sign I might have a problem came when one of my kids drew me a picture of my iPhone as a Fathers Day present. I scaled things back pretty quickly after that, but my current smartphone still finds its way into my hands many, many, times a day. Sometimes I tell myself it's just diligence: working ten time …

Don't go away, IBM and SAP – Larry's not finished with you yet

SAP and IBM? Pah! Says Larry Ellison. Amazon and Salesforce – them’s my competition these days. Only the truth is a little more nuanced. Yes, there is competitive pressure from the cloud entrants but the more Ellison tries to re-invent Oracle, the more he’s going to have to scrap with his rivals IBM and SAP to haul past the new …
Gavin Clarke, 31 Jan 2014
The Hindenburg, on fire and doomed above Lakehurst

Tell us we're all doomed, MPs beg climate scientists

+Sketch MPs begged scientists to tell them what to do at Westminster this week. "I like the idea science tells us something, and we have to agree," said John Robertson (Lab, Glasgow North West) - surely a candidate for Quote of the Year in any year. As we shall discover, the MPs of Parliament's Energy and Climate Change Committee were …
Andrew Orlowski, 31 Jan 2014
EMC Vatican Library Video still

Spot the joints: You say backup, I say archiving

If you have ever been asked to recover an old, lost or deleted file, you will know just how hard people find it to tell the difference between backup and archiving. The administrator's workload has grown so much that backup companies have even added user self-service portals to ease it. The problem has accentuated as companies …
Bryan Betts, 27 Jan 2014
Vodafone Simply Sagem VS2

US megalocorp AT&T: We're NOT swallowing Blighty's Vodafone

+Analysis Speculation that AT&T was shopping for Vodafone as an entry into the European market has been brought to an end after an exec ruled it out. At the request of the Takeover Panel, the independent body which regulates the city of London code on takeovers, AT&T has said that it will not pursue Vodafone. The takeover panel refused to …
Simon Rockman, 27 Jan 2014
Speedball

Globe grabbin,’ sphere slammin’, orb-tossin’, pill poppin’... Speedball

Antique Code Show When the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST together ruled the home computing scene, video games were a long way from the million dollar money-spinners they have become. Getting public and media attention for a game wasn’t easy, but one of the more effective techniques employed by game designers was to create titles that took ‘ …
Giles Hill, 27 Jan 2014
Photo of billboard marketing Microsoft Surface with Windows RT

Microsoft loses grip on Christmas shoppers... despite XBox boost

Analysis Microsoft's second quarter results, posted on Thursday, reveal that the software giant struggled in the sexy world of devices during the all-important Christmas shopping period. These are the first numbers indicating how the battle between PCs and smart devices played out over the battleground for consumers' wallets that is …
Gavin Clarke, 24 Jan 2014

A BBC-by-subscription 'would be richer', MPs told

Analysis Could the BBC be better off if it raised money through subscriptions? Last week Westminster heard that the BBC had modelled precisely this scenario and found that it would be richer than it is today. It just didn't want to tell you. And in a strange alignment of interests, the BBC's pay-for rivals don't want you to know either …
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Jan 2014

Apple’s Mac turns 30: How Steve Jobs’ baby took its first steps

Feature Thirty years ago this Friday, at approximately 9:45am on Tuesday, 24 January, 1984, the Macintosh introduced itself after Steve Jobs unveiled it at an Apple shareholders' meeting in Cupertino's Flint Center for the Performing Arts. "Hello. I'm Macintosh. It sure is great to get out of that bag," the odd-looking 16.5-pound box …
Rik Myslewski, 24 Jan 2014
Our hire car beside the Stuart Highway

IBM and SAP: Looks like we're STUCK forever on the cloud highway

Earnings from SAP and IBM – two giants in enterprise IT - proved that both companies are struggling to cope with the move to the cloud and show that success in hosted computing is receding for them. While it's true that the big growth for SAP was in its cloud-related business – up 66 per cent for the fourth quarter and 158 per …
Gavin Clarke, 24 Jan 2014

When ZOMBIES go shopping: 40m Target customer breach? That's NOTHING!

Malware linked to fraud in the retail sector may be a bigger problem than even the recent revelation about the compromise of systems US retailer Target suggests. Shopping giant Target and luxury retailer Neiman Marcus both announced significant data breaches during the 2013 holiday shopping season. The Target breach at least …
John Leyden, 23 Jan 2014
Sony KD-84X9005 84in 4K LED TV

4K-ing hell! Will your shiny new Ultra HD TV actually display HD telly?

Feature With just about every TV maker showing off 4K sets at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) earlier this month, and companies like Netflix promising to have content available in the format, it’s tempting to think that if you’re buying a new TV, 4K may be worth a look. Or, at least, worth hanging on for until it’s more sensibly …
Nigel Whitfield, 20 Jan 2014
Bitmain AntMiner S1

MANIC MINERS: Ten Bitcoin generating machines

Product Round-up Bitcoins are either the new bubble economy or the future of online commerce. It’s not the first time anonymous e-money has been tried – ask Mondex – but Bitcoin does seem to have traction. There are things you might want that you can buy with it, such as Tesla cars and Virgin Galactic trips to space. Zynga has announced that it …
Simon Rockman, 17 Jan 2014
Quantum CEO Jon Gacek

Quantum expects to see Q3 revenue hike, sheds 60 extra bodies

Quantum expects to report a seasonal third quarter revenue hike in its third 2014 fiscal quarter ended 31 December, with lower costs helped by manufacturing outsourcing and several additional redundancies. El Reg storage desk has received several emails about the latter and they were also confirmed by the company. Revenues for …
Chris Mellor, 16 Jan 2014
Science of Cambridge MK14 close-up

Ian Williamson: The engineer who gave Sinclair his first micro

Archaeologic Before Sinclair Research and the QL, the Spectrum and the ZX81, before even Sinclair Computers and the ZX80, there was Science of Cambridge and the MK14 microprocessor kit. Released in February 1978 - that’s when the first adverts for the mail-order-only offering appeared, at least - the MK14 entered the SoC pipeline late in the …
Tony Smith, 16 Jan 2014
Nest Labs' The Nest

Google's Nest gobble: Soon ALL your HOME are BELONG to US

Analysis Google’s proposed $3.2bn purchase of Nest Labs, a maker of internet-connected round-the-home devices, shows that the online advertising giant considers the Internet of Things a serious proposition. A very serious proposition. It’s easy to be dismissive of the move. Nest is best known for an internet-enabled thermostat and a …
Tony Smith, 15 Jan 2014
JC Boyle saluting device patent

Tales from an expert witness: Prior art and patent trolls

John Watkinson is an expert witness and on many occasions has had to deal with patent litigation. Here he describes the application of ideas in the art of invention both historically and currently from Galileo to patent trolls. A patent is a form of contract between society and the inventor that benefits both. In return for …
John Watkinson, 15 Jan 2014
Barbed wire surrounding communications tower

Faster, more private, easier to read: My 2014 browser wishlist

The web browser ceased to be a "browser" some time ago. These days browser is really the runtime of the web. As such, web browsers and browser makers seem to spend more time these days optimizing their runtimes for developers. Every time you turn around there's a new JavaScript compiler, support for a still-not-actually-a- …
Sinclair QL

Sinclair’s 1984 big shot at business: The QL is 30 years old

Archaeologic In May 1983, Sinclair Research Managing Director Nigel Searle began briefing the press about the successful British micro maker’s next big release. It was 13 months after the company had launched the Spectrum and although that machine had become a huge success, punters and market-watchers were keen to hear about what Sinclair …
Tony Smith, 12 Jan 2014

Indirect proposition: Inside IBM UK software supremo's profit plan

Interview IBM’s Stephen Smith shrugs off our suggestion there’s more pressure on him now than ever before. And no wonder: he is a man with a profit-generating plan. Smith is the UK and Ireland head of IBM’s Software Group – a unit that’s home to some of the biggest names in software, never mind the Big Blue brand itself. As a whole, the …
Gavin Clarke, 8 Jan 2014

How to kill trolls and influence Apple people: A patent solution

Having decided that the patent problem is an attempt to solve a public goods problem, as we did in part 1, let's have a look at the specific ways that we put our oar into those perfect and competitive free markets. It's worth just noting that patents and copyright are not, absolutely not, the product of some fevered free market …
Tim Worstall, 6 Jan 2014
Casio calculator

Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

Retro roundup Until sometime in the early 1980s, when you reached secondary school you were handed a slim book full of numbers during a maths lesson and taught how to use log tables. Sines, cosines, tangents, square roots - they were all in there too. While it made a change from long division, it caused its own share of headaches. But, to a …

Glassholes, snapt**ts, #blabbergasms, selfies and PRISM: The Reg's review of 2013

Year in Review "Selfie" is the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year. There's nothing new about a "selfie" - it's a self-portrait - but a perfect storm of social networks and smartphones has given popularity to a word and an act even world leaders feel it's OK to do on really serious occasions. In keeping with a long tradition here at …
Gavin Clarke, 31 Dec 2013
Original 'Blue Marble' pic taken by Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972

Britain's costliest mistake? Lord Stern defends his climate maths

Analysis As the year winds to a close and a new one begins, it's traditional to think about the future and good resolutions we may be keeping. In particular, we thought it would make sense to take a look at the resolution the UK made a few years ago: to cut carbon emissions on a scale unmatched by any other nation. How's that going, and …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Dec 2013
Punk-styled girl with piercing gazes at an apple

Apple loses sauce, BlackBerry squashed and Microsoft, er, WinsPhones (Nokia's)

Year in Review It was a year where Apple slurped down enormous profits but lost some of its bleeding-edge-tech street cred, while Samsung marched inexorably on. But behind the scenes there was much more going on. Here are the year's trends put through the blender. Apple Apple's strategy is quite simple: instead of making products the …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Dec 2013
Sinclair Sovereign calculator

El Reg's contraptions confessional no.5: The Sinclair Sovereign

Cache in the Attic Time was when having a calculator felt about as hi-tech as owning smartphone does these days. Lester Haines relives the experience when these small objects of desire weren't just about doing the numbers, but were even touted as status symbols. Sinclair Sovereign Having risked the lives of the specialist team members tasked with …
Lester Haines, 28 Dec 2013
Galactic Geysers

2013: A Space Odyssey - a cosmological review of the year

Year in Review Space this year was dominated by space rocks big and small - whether we want to dodge 'em, mine 'em, or watch 'em explode near the Sun, we sure do love those asteroids, comets, meteors and meteorites. 2013 was also another year in Earthlings' continued obsession with all things Martian. We want to go there and we want to live …
The UK's shrinking airforce

What is the difference between a drone, a model and a light plane?

Christmas is over, it’s grey outside, and you want to look at pages of blue skies, exotic locations, and smooth, aerodynamic models. Yes, you’re ready for El Reg’s dabble in the extreme end of modelling... aircraft modelling that is. Way back in the summer we were invited to a day out at Stow Maries, a refurbished WW1 aerodrome …
Joe Fay, 26 Dec 2013
Super Micro's 8-node FatTwin server

Let... the SAN shine: 2013 – the year of virtual storage area networks

Sysadmin blog Converged infrastructure – the trend of using one piece of kit for some pretty varied tasks, including networking, computing and storage, software and automation – really took off in 2013, mostly thanks to a group of robust virtual SAN players entering the market. Barring an unexpected new entrant, 2014's big names in the vSAN …
Trevor Pott, 24 Dec 2013
Red Dead Redemption

We don't need no STEENKIN' exploit brokers: Let's FLATTEN all bug bounties

Security watchers are proposing the introduction of "flat rate" bug bounties by software vendors to try to stop vulnerability researchers from flogging off flaws to exploit brokers or on the black market. They believe that the current situation is bad for security, and means that vulns often end up in the hands of criminals – or …
John Leyden, 23 Dec 2013

Gift-giving gotchas: How to avoid Xmas morning EMBARRASSMENT

You might think, what with gift buying out of the way, the hard work of the holiday season is largely done. Not so. Before you reach for the wrapping paper and sticky tape, there’s a fair bit more you can do to ensure a trouble- and tantrum-free Christmas Day. Batteries not included If you’ve been buying gadgets, don’t forget …
Nigel Whitfield, 23 Dec 2013
Solartron CD 1014.3 oscilloscope

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

Cache in the Attic 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
de Havilland Sea Vixen

Mosquitoes, Comets and Vampires: The de Havilland Museum

Geek's Guide to Britain Approaching the museum down a bumpy single track road you start wondering if any of this makes any sense. Why is this museum in the middle of nowhere? Why are the opening hours so peculiar? Why are there bits of aircraft lying around? Why does it have two different names? All becomes apparent in due course and in the process …
Ed Moore, 20 Dec 2013
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Calling all Spare Rib veterans: Sisters, don't lose your rights!

Contributors to the iconic feminist magazine Spare Rib, which ran from 1972 to 1993, have been warned not to sign away their rights. Last week the British Library contacted over a thousand former contributors giving them just seven days to give their consent to what it described as a "digitisation project". If authors declined …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Dec 2013