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Thursday November 11, 2004
The Guardian

Family battles
I enjoyed the article describing Microsoft's vision of the PC multi-tasking for computer, video, audio and other functions via one box, and more importantly, one screen in the living room (Battle for the living room, November 4).

In my house, my son is playing a game on one computer, my other son is doing some schoolwork on another, and my daughter is using a third to chat with her friends. I am using my laptop to write this mail. My wife is contemplating watching a programme on television. If all computer and TV functions are to be combined in one big screen, I think your article might need to be re-titled Battle in the living room. I think we shall keep our computers and televisions separate for the forseeable future.
James Bellringer

Canvas comedy
Ben Hammersley describes a clever trick employed in Florence's Palazzo Medici Riccardi to enable visitors to study paintings that are too high, too detailed and in rooms too full of people to be fully visible with the naked eye (State of the art, November 4). Yet isn't it far more interesting to speculate on why the artists made the details so invisible in the first place? Was it the medieval sense of humour?
Peter Lanyon

Best foot forward
Readers interested in the feature on the active wall in Florence may be interested in the "iFloor" that I recently came across in the Danish Design Awards. This involved a display projected on to a floor with which one interacted with one's feet ( Combining the two concepts would be very interesting.
Jagdev Panesar

Tied in
David Parker (Feedback, November 4) stated that NTL will unbundle its service: this is only partly true. I have had analogue cable TV for a good number of years from NTL, but when I recently thought about having the NTL digital TV service, I was told I could only have it with the inclusion of its phone line (an additional £9.50).

This may be convenient for some people, but I do not want to change my existing phone line or pay for an additional line. This is because I am then forced to use its broadband service - which I am sure is adequate for the lay user, but limits me in my choices and is more expensive.
Simon Tournay

Hard information
I was looking at getting the Humax PVR 8000T hard-drive recorder (Feedback, November 4) and asked whether you can record from external sources via scart or RF cable, and you cannot. The Humax can only record from its own internal DVB-T tuner, so it is useless unless you only want Freeview (I have Telewest cable and wanted to record from that). I did find out from them, however, that you can put in up to a 120GB disk (invalidating the warranty) to replace the measly 80GB it comes with.
Jamie Keddie

Iverson's legacy
I believe there should be some recognition in Online for Ken Iverson, who died in October. He invented programming language APL and subsequently J, and his pioneering ideas have been quietly adopted by other computer languages and packages (for example, Mathematica).
Ewart Shaw
University of Warwick

BlogBack: What the web says about Online

Jack Schofield (November 4) gives a critical view of AMD's "popular computer" black box. I wonder if that's the system Brazil is adopting; it may be a mistake.

I'm quite keen on Scrum stuff (Taken to extremes, November 4) and on any form of programming or working that minimises meetings. We used some of this stuff in my last project in the BBC.

I don't see why anyone would want a first-generation Sony PSP handheld... it's obviously been rushed. I'm sure in 12 months' time it might be worth looking into, but cobbling them together this fast and setting the price based on an informal office poll seems insane.

Ironically, I think, the future of blog is back office, for e-science research, rather than for public use. I refer here to old wine in new bottles; ideasharing, theme-generation and internet- mediated academic discourse.

Creative Commons keeps making its unstoppable stride into the mainstream (Creative comfort, October 28). The article concentrates on music but it is a rather good attempt to explain what the movement is all about.

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