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November, 2012

Harwell Dekatron: rebooting the most dependable computer ever

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Harwell Dekatron
The National Museum of Computing has done it again, bringing yet another historical computer back to life. But where the Colossus and Tunny were war-time codebreakers, brought back to life through scraps of information, the Harwell Dekatron was merely in pieces in storage, with two of the three original developers still alive.

The 2.5-tonne beast was built in 1951 at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, making it the “oldest working digital computer,” according to TNMOC. It was out of date by 1957 — people wanted the latest technology even back then — so following a competition, it was handed to what was then the Wolverhampton College of Technology, where it was renamed Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation from Harwell (WITCH).

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How much damage did Twitter really do to Lord McAlpine?

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Bercow tweet

Being wrongly accused of child abuse is about as serious as false accusations come. In my personal view, Lord McAlpine deserves each and every one of the hundred and eighty five thousand pounds he’s reportedly been paid in compensation by the BBC (even if the ones ultimately footing the bill are us, the licence fee payers).

However, now his lawyers are seeking further recompense from another source: Twitter users. His legal team is apparently intent on shutting down any “trial by Twitter”, and plans to take action against “lots of people” who parroted the false allegations made about McAlpine.

Which invites the question: precisely how much damage did Twitter do to McAlpine’s reputation?

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Sinofsky and the power vacuum inside Microsoft

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Steven Sinofsky

Ray Ozzie, Jeff Raikes, Robbie Bach, J Allard and now – most surprisingly of all – Steven Sinofsky: the list of internal candidates to succeed Steve Ballmer has been crossed off, one by one.

This morning, despite years of rumblings of discontent from investors about Ballmer’s leadership, the Microsoft CEO has probably never been more secure. With Ballmer having seen off all the likely internal contenders to his throne, the Microsoft board must either continue to stand by their man or appoint externally.

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Four ways to get PC Pro every month

Friday, November 9th, 2012

PC Pro 221

At the risk of sounding like a Stephen Fry voice-over, it’s never been easier to get your hands on PC Pro every month. We now have four different ways to pick up the magazine in either print or digital form, and to help you decide which suits you best, I’m going to run through the options here.

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A week with 4G: our verdict

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

EE 4G speed test

Mobile network EE is pleased as punch to have 4G all to itself for six months, and last week it celebrated that fact by sending out a pile of 4G-enabled handsets to us tech journalists for testing.

You’ve already heard about the high prices, and the rather ridiculous 500MB data cap on the cheapest £36 per month tariff. But what is it like to use, and does it meet all of EE’s speed claims? I’ve been using a 4G HTC One XL LTE for a week to find out.

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Where you can’t watch football online

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

The Content Map

A press release arrives from the BPI, the zealous defenders of copyright holders. It has contributed to a new website – The Content Map – a portal for “British digital content services” that  is “encouraging UK online consumers to explore more than 150 authorised websites and platforms offering films, TV programmes, music, video games, e-books and sports broadcasts”. Because the reason people turn to file-sharing sites is because they’ve never heard of LoveFilm and iPlayer…

Anyway, being a footy fan, I head straight to the Sports section, eager to find out about all the legal ways I can watch the beautiful game live online. “Click on your favourite sport below and see the different ways for you to watch online,” the website implores, which sounds just the ticket.

And then I look at the four websites listed under football: the official sites of the Premier League, the FA Cup, the UEFA Champions League and the Europa League. The first two show no live football whatsoever, and the second two only deliver live streams via partners such as Sky, ITV and ESPN. The aforementioned Sky, which shows more live online football than any other broadcaster in this country, isn’t listed.

If the rights holders can’t even point us to legitimate streams of their own content, is it any wonder that people turn to file-sharing services and iffy foreign TV feeds?

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