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* Posts by Steve Todd

1898 posts • joined 19 Sep 2007

EE buys 58 Phones 4u stores for £2.5m after picking over carcass

Steve Todd
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Re: Smash and grab

EE would have been competing with its self. If P4U were selling contracts for the other 3 networks also then you would have had competition and it was about the best deal you could get. CPW still do that. When P4U lost O2 then the choice between Voda and EE limited that competition and made them less valuable. When Voda dropped their contract it would have made P4U an EE only outfit, your choice being buy from EE or P4U (with little or no discount). The cost of doing business with P4U became more than the business was worth.

As it is the 4 networks still compete among themselves, and MVNO's fight for a slice. There are many phone stores available and CPW still offers the full choice of networks in one place. P4U has been the victim of its own management greed in that they left it little room to manoeuvre on prices, and that's what killed it.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Smash and grab

What was the point of a company that had little margin for discounting and only sold phones on two of the four networks? Phones4U was well and truly shafted by its own management when they loaded the company down with debt.

Why would EE continue selling them phones and airtime at a discount when they could sell the same package through their own store and make more money? P4U only made sense if they provided phones for all, or most of the networks and you could shop around.

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Yahoo! Made! $8bn! In! One! Day! And! You'll! Easily! Guess! How!

Steve Todd
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The funny thing is

that if you subtract the value of Alibarba shares and cash from Yahoo's market cap then you end up with a negative number. El reg seems to have missed this one.

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Pop open this iPhone 6 and see where the magic oozes from ... oh hello again, Qualcomm

Steve Todd
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Re: Which major chipperies missing?

No, ARM didn't design it, Apple have an architectural licence like Qualcomm that lets them take the paper spec that ARM create and design their own silicon.

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Register journo battles Sydney iPHONE queue, FONDLES BIG 'UN

Steve Todd
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The iPad Air has the same 1GB of RAM, and an even higher resolution 2048 x 1536 screen. No, it isn't a problem. iOS is much more restrictive over what it lets run in the background, and (IIRC) compresses memory images to save space.

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Steve Todd
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Re: iOS 8 impression

Yes, you can nuke Tips. Just go to notification settings and turn off notifications for the Tips app. Job done.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s

Steve Todd
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@Vector

As you move up the scale from cheap paperbacks books get progressively more square.

Octavo: 3:2

Quarto: 4:3 (slightly over)

Folio: 5:4

Are you trying to convince us that paperback is the ideal reading size and no one should bother with hardback books?

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Steve Todd
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It's a damned site better than 16:9 for reading, especially in portrait orientation. The only reason that most laptops have gone that way is they can get cheap 16:9 screens, but even 16:10 is better for reading.

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iPhone 6: Advanced features? Pah! Nexus 4 had most of them in 2012

Steve Todd
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FAIL

Re: Take my money! Oh, you're too busy... @AC

Firstly you can only buy the stuff they actually have out on the shelves that way. They don't keep boxed iPhones/iPads/Macs out on the shelves. Secondly they can check the user's account for a purchase, cancelled transactions should be quite obvious. CCTV is unlikely to be called on to check if a given customer paid or not. Thirdly the app on a given phone holds the receipt after purchase, the user can prove purchase from that, plus they get an emailed copy too.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Take my money! Oh, you're too busy... @h4rm0ny

The app provides you with a receipt, and I assume it talks to store security.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Take my money! Oh, you're too busy...

There's an app for that. Run up the Apple Store app, scan the barcode of the item you want to buy, fill in your Apple password, wait for confirmation and walk out of the store with it in hand.

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Why Apple had to craft a pocket-busting 5.5in Plus-sized iPhone 6 (thank LG, Samsung etc)

Steve Todd
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Re: NFC payments @AC

Banks charge businesses a cash handling fee, plus they charge each other for our using their ATM networks, even if they don't charge you directly. Cards are cheaper for shops to process (why do you think Tesco et al ask if you'd like any cash back? It saves them money).

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Steve Todd
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Re: Unfortunate design choice

You haven't needed iTunes since, IIRC, iOS 6. The iPhone can run stand-alone, register its self, backup to the cloud etc.

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Steve Todd
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Re: NFC payments @AC

Lacking test systems to try it out on we can't say for certain, but I can think of at least one way that card selection is performed by the retailer for you, and another where card selection is done by user defined rules on the phone. Neither require user intervention.

Short term at least you still need the physical card, but as it is easier and faster to use the NFC solution, and more secure (no need for new cards if it is lost or stolen) then things are likely to move that way. There are still places that only accept cash, does that mean that traditional plastic has failed?

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Steve Todd
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Re: Gaining hardware but losing software = losing market share?

"Podcasts" is a separate app in iOS 7+. It tracks and downloads podcasts for you (I've just received the latest Speaking In Tech, completely automatically on it),

Music is dedicated to your music library and is also a separate app.

Neither is causing me significant trouble. I'm interested to here about this lack of care that Apple is supposedly showing to music.

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Steve Todd
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Re: @Steve Todd Unfortunate design choice

On a 5.5 inch screen I challenge you to spot the difference between 1920x1080 and 2560x1440. Likewise I don't know anyone with a modern phone who carries spare batteries to overcome issues with life. A portable charger maybe, or an extended battery integrated in a case, but otherwise no. 4 or more years down the road when you want to replace the battery there's a small cost advantage (and a risk of buying dodgy third party/fake batteries) but rarely these days is a battery swap used to extend daily life.

Neither of these points was claimed in your original post.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Gaining hardware but losing software = losing market share?

Eh, what are these music bugs of which you speak? I've had no problems with the Music app, and use Spotify on a daily basis (the only object I've got to which is that it loses track of where you are in a playlist if it is in the background when stopped).

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Steve Todd
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Re: Unfortunate design choice

The 5.5 inch 6+ version has a 1920 x 1080 screen, and it has a longer battery life than the 5S and 6. The 6 has a better battery life than the 5S.

What was that again?

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Steve Todd
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Re: NFC payments

The combination of the device plus fingerprint allows you to overcome the £20 limit. You have to trigger the phone to make a payment so you don't get drive-by theft.

Compare the two payment methods:

1) Get your wallet out

2) Select the right card

3) insert the card into the chip and pin reader

4) enter your pin

5) press Enter

6) wait while pin is verified

7) wait for authorisation from CC company

8) remove card from reader

9) replace in wallet

10) put wallet back in pocket.

Vs

1) get your phone out

2) touch it to the reader while pressing the fingerprint reader (which activates the screen)

3) wait for authorisation from CC company.

4) put phone back in pocket

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Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch

Steve Todd
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Re: Perfectly put.

But not quickly or easily, which is why they make the faces out of sapphire.

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Want to buy a Woz-made Apple I? If you need to ask the price, you can't afford it

Steve Todd
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Re: Woz was clearly not a layout artist

At 1MHz the track length was largely unimportant. Using as few possible components and making the board small were the design goals in those days.

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Steve Todd
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Stamp collectors

Will pay stilly amounts of money for tiny bits of paper with trivial face values. It's about rarity to them, and the place in history of the stamp in question.

Computer collectors think the same way. As a machine it is trivial. As a working example from the original batch of 50 it is rare (modern reproductions don't lower the rarity). As one of the machines that got Apple off the ground then it has a place in history.

Collecting in general isn't my thing, but that doesn't mean that I can't understand those that do or make me need to insult them.

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Scared of brute force password attacks? Just 'GIVE UP' says Microsoft

Steve Todd
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Re: Interesting @dogged

No, they didn't say that it wasn't their fault, they have placed rate limiting code on the affected systems now. IMHO the best way to do this is to get exponentially slower returning a response after each failed logon. Humans will just go through the "forgot my password" procedure, machines will get only a couple of chances at guessing before things become too slow to use.

What Apple did say is that it's not an issue for the vast majority of their users as the attacks were only on specific accounts and wouldn't have succeeded against harder passwords.

The Apple hating community (of which I'm assuming you're a member) seem to overlook flaws in their own chosen platform and leap on the slightest error by Apple. Yes, it was a flaw. No, Apple don't create flawless code, nor have they ever made this claim.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Interesting

No, they are saying that their host systems weren't compromised, only individual user accounts due to weak passwords and security questions (there does seem to have been an issue where there was no rate limiting on guesses). If the host systems had been compromised then ALL users would have been at risk.

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Too slow with that iPhone refresh, Apple: Android is GOBBLING up US mobile market

Steve Todd
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Re: Speak for youself!

Erm, I've got a iPhone 5, and its working quite happily on EE with 4G. It doesn't do the 2600MHz and 800MHz bands that were auctioned, but both 3 and EE provide an 1800MHz service.

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Euro banks will rip out EVERYTHING and buy proper backend systems ... LOL, fooled ya

Steve Todd
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Financial IT spending

Is all about managing risk. It's risky, slow and expensive to put new core IT systems in place because of the number of other systems that speak to them. I was working for a large US bank while they replaced their general ledger system (or should I say systems, it was one CICS/COBOL application that had forked repeatedly). It took millions and years of effort to replace, and there were operational hiccups on the way.

Unless they really have to the banks would rather not change their systems because of the risk. Waving fancy cloud based systems at them is unlikely to help that.

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Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything

Steve Todd
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Re: What's new?

"I'd like to cite every piece of Free Software..."

Which costs you money to configure and support. No matter where you got it from and for how much, by the time it has been integrated into an environment then it has cost you. If you're a hacker at home then that cost is only time, for companies time is money.

"By being able to re-purpose/re-implement...."

Which is kind of like saying that it's easier to write an application in a high level language than assembler. It's easier again to take a pre-written application off the shelf, but if there's nothing available in the FOSS world then the tools and stacks are no better (and can be considerably worse, Eclipse still makes me shudder). Closed source dev tools also don't prevent you from using or creating open source components.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Closed source...

@NumberFive & @AC

You seem to have failed to understand the point. It is not dishonest not to be interested in making something simpler, especially when you make your income from knowing how to do that something. You'd be putting yourself out of a job.

Closed source companies make money from both selling you the licences and support contracts. It costs them money to employ support staff, so they'd rather make it easy to configure and get paid for tasks that apply to the whole user base (like bug fixes or service packs). This means fewer support staff in your own company also, and developers who only have to worry about tailoring packages for your company, not maintaining the platform it runs on.

I've nothing against the FOSS model, providing you realise the motivation of the authors and companies that back it. If they aren't interested in the kinds of thing you do then you'll be out of luck. Hence the demand for an OS like Linux (lots of folks want an OS), but there is similarly lots of closed source vertical code running on it because the number of possible clients won't support the open source model for them.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Closed source...

Quite how open source makes support more expensive eludes me.

Easy. Either you have to pay for your own staff that can build and configure the software for you, or pay an external company. Open Source techies are no cheaper than WinTel types (often they can be more expensive). Since Open Source companies make ALL of their money from charging for support they have no incentive to make things easier so it generally costs more in man hours to configure or sort out.

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Steve Todd
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What's new?

You've always had to pay for software. Client licence counts have been around for ages (Novel and Microsoft being prime exponents). Plug-in extra functionality likewise. The only difference is that the plug-ins have been pre-installed and all you need to do is activate them. Any IT manager worth his/her salt should have worked out the total cost of the features they want/need.

Open source removes the need for licensing, but doesn't work well for vertical or specialised markets and adds to support costs (either in house or purchased)

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Tim Cook: I'm NOT worried about CRAP iPad sales. It's just a 'speedbump'

Steve Todd
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Re: Couple of tips Tim

2. I can buy a smartphone for less than the £100 you are charging for cellular. Again, check your spreadsheet and adjust pricing for next model launch.

Not one with decent, multi-region LTE radios you can't.

Manufacturers charge what customers are prepared to pay, not what it costs them plus a bit. Look at what Ford charge for a GPS upgrade to their models for example.

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Steve Todd
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Re: performance hike?

Javascript to start with. On the Air you're still running Jacascript on web pages at about 1/2 the speed of a desktop machine, and it's over double the speed of the iPad 3.

Then there's the shift to LTE radios if you have the cellular version. Definitely a worthwhile speed bump, but like the iPhone I suspect users are moving to a 24 month or longer refresh cycle.

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BOFH: We CAN do that with a Raspberry Pi, but think of the BODIES

Steve Todd
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Re: If you're going to worry about their tech selection...

You don't even need a full Arduino, an ATMEGA324 costing about £3, a crystal and a couple of caps is all you need for an embedded application. Heck, for this an ATTINY85 and its internal oscillator will probably do the trick, for less than £1.50

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Is it an iPad? Is it a MacBook Air? No, it's a Surface Pro 3

Steve Todd
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@H4rm0ny - "It's the same price as a MacBook Air with equivalent screen size"

Except it isn't. The entry level Surface 4 does cost the same as the entry level 13" Air, providing you ignore the fact that you're only getting an i3 and 64GB of SSD, plus the fact you need to spend another £110 for the keyboard. You're spending £110 more for a slower, lower capacity device that is an inferior laptop.

Yes, there are use cases where people want a pen, and others where they want to be able to run full Windows software on a tablet, but this isn't a mass market requirement and it doesn't fair well against dedicated devices.

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Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER

Steve Todd
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Re: If Samsung can do it then surely Apple can...

If all they are trying to do is replace your watch and add a bit of basic connectivity to your mobile then you're probably right. The devil is in the detail. We don't yet know what else it will do, and if that will make it worth purchasing by a significant number of users.

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Steve Todd
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Re: its production line isn't

They contract out production to companies like Foxconn, who have enormous factory towns in China. This is exactly like the rest of the industry, and chances are they are already making smart watches for Samsung, Motorola etc., so it's unlikely to be a production issue. Software or components I could accept as a reason for delay, but production capacity? They can buy as much of that as they want.

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Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?

Steve Todd
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Could they not lock him up

For crimes against journalism? There's plenty of evidence of that.

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Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display

Steve Todd
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Re: @jason 7

You didn't actually answer my question, as I asked about the price difference between a 120GB and a 256GB drive. You gave me the lowest possible difference between a 120 and a 240GB drive. Not the same thing, and definitely not a £20 upgrade from anyone.

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Steve Todd
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Re: @jason 7

Comparing apples with apples, the Crucial M500 (which is an old model and is on sale apparently to clear stock) is £50 for a 120GB unit and £84 for a 240GB on the Crucial site. If you want a 256GB drive you need the M550, which is £108. PCIe drives are more expensive again.

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Steve Todd
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@jason 7

Really? You'll have to tell me where you can find even SATA SSDs where the price difference between 120 and 256GB is only £20. These drives are PCIe BTW, much faster than SATA, and yes they are replaceable.

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UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco

Steve Todd
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Re: The government's big problem

That sort of iterative development works if you have your own in-house teams with good and regular liaison with the end-users. The government insists on contracting the work out on a per project basis, and no company is going to bid on a project without knowing what they are expected to produce and how much effort it will take (and adding a good deal of padding knowing the governments history on this).

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Steve Todd
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The government's big problem

Is an inability to create a proper spec for anything, and a compulsive need to mess about changing such specs that have been created after development starts. If they could sort those two out then they actually might stand a chance.

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EE: STILL Blighty's best mobe network, says 'Frappucino' Moore

Steve Todd
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If EE falls back to 3G

Their network performance is less than impressive. Their 4G performance has also fallen back due to the number of users sharing available bandwidth. Definitely not a competitive offering as a whole at the moment.

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Top money men face up to 2 YEARS in slammer for neglecting to spot crim-cash activity

Steve Todd
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Re: @Steve Todd

If a court fined you a month's salary (before tax) for something your kids did then you'd regard it as a slap on the wrist?

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Steve Todd
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Firstly since when is a $1.9Bn fine a "slap on the wrist"? It's a heck of a spanking for any company.

Secondly this was under US AML rules, not the UK. It's there legal system and punishments that apply in this case (as it was related to the transfer of funds between the Mexican and US subsidiaries).

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Steve Todd
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Not news to anyone in the financial industry

Where they are required to take regular refresher courses on Anti Money Laundering (AML) and go through a complicated process (Know Your Customer) before taking on new accounts. It also makes them nervous about certain types of activity (which have to be reported to the authorities) and they may close the accounts of individuals or companies that they are twitchy about as a defensive move.

The result is that people who are acting in good faith may end up with their accounts closed because the bank doesn't want to take the risk that they are laundering money, so it's not always a good thing.

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Cargo truck crammed with garbage explodes IN SPAAAAACE

Steve Todd
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Re: The big problem up there

You're assuming that the junk is all in circular orbits. If, as is more likely, the orbit is elliptical then relative velocities can be much higher than that.

The other point you missed out on are items being boosted into orbit. They have to travel through the debris fields at speeds far removed from orbital velocity at that altitude.

So while the relative velocities are unlikely to be 7km/sec they are still fast enough for tiny things to do a lot of damage.

Edit: and as mentioned above, if the orbits are at 90 degrees to each other then you still get the full 7km/sec.

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Steve Todd
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The big problem up there

Is all the junk that HASN'T been de-orbited and burned up in the upper atmosphere. Even small junk moving at about 7km/s can cause serious damage and there's lots of discussion over how to clean the junk up to reduce the risk to working hardware and people up there.

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FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'

Steve Todd
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Kind of missing the point

The commentards above seem to have failed to have spotted the fact that it was Samsung who was claiming that it has "an entirely new appearance". It doesn't matter if other, non apple, handsets look the same, that was the point.

As an aside, it looks like they've tried to make it thinner than the connectors would really allow. The case has to bulge out for the USB port and the headphone socket has an odd edge to it as it cuts into the chamfer.

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Password manager LastPass goes titsup: Users LOCKED OUT

Steve Todd
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I like the 1Password approach

1) let the user keep their master copy on one of multiple cloud services

2) encrypt the h*ll out of this.

3) keep local copies (also encrypted), and try to synchronise with the master copy when used

That way you're never without access, even though in some circumstances it may not quite be up to date.

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