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* Posts by Steve Todd

1917 posts • joined 19 Sep 2007

Forget the $2499 5K iMac – today we reveal Apple's most expensive computer to date

Steve Todd
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Re: any single computer ever really had the impact of the Model T

The IBM PC was a terrible hack. Expensive (£1700 for a basic 1 floppy machine with 64K of RAM and a mono monitor), slow (being bested by a 2MHz 6502) and hard to program (16 bit segment registers anyone?). Only the IBM name and the open design saved it. Modern machines are more closely descended from workstations of the time, every part of the original ISA has been replaced with something to fix the original hacks (often several times).

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Steve Todd
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Re: This may be true in America

The closest thing to the Apple I in the UK would be the NASCOM I from 1978, two years later. Sinclair also produced the MK14 in 1977, but that had a hex keypad and a calculator display.

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Steve Todd
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That's like saying that Henry Ford wasn't important because Karl Benz invented the first automobile. Wozniak was the first to create a single board design that incorporated all the key elements (keyboard controller, CPU, RAM, ROM and video controller) onto one board. This lead to the microcomputer boom of the 80s.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Does it still work?

That was part of the reason it fetched such a high bid. It works and has been recently tested. It's very clean and still has all its original components. Whether or not the museum will risk running it is a different question.

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Really... an iKeyfob? Apple continues war on fanbois' pockets

Steve Todd
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Re: It's an Apple car patent

Who said that they have no intention of using it themselves? They may or may not decide to make a product using it, depending on how well development of the idea progresses and market demand. They may decide to licence the technology, make it part of a standard or keep it for themselves. Whatever they do, they have a patent for a particular method, not all possible methods of doing something. Existing keyless entry systems don't invalidate the patent IF they work in a different way, and this patent doesn't prevent anyone from creating a different way of doing the same thing.

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Steve Todd
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Re: It's an Apple car patent

I don't think you understand the definition of a patent troll. A patent troll is a non practicing entity (ie. they don't make anything) that makes money purely by asserting patents, normally that have been purchased rather than developing them themselves, and only when they have been incorporated into a successful product.

Apple, Microsoft, Google, IBM and pretty much any tech company you care to mention are continually generating patent, many of which will never make it into actual products. Some of them (Microsoft and IBM for example) make considerable money from licensing, but this doesn't make them patent trolls.

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iPhone 6 shunned by fanbois in Apple's GREAT FAIL of CHINA

Steve Todd
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The scalpers aren't in the queue

Having been burned with foreign imports. Many of the fanboys have pre-ordered (more than 2 million of them IIRC). A queue of 100 isn't bad at this stage.

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Apple's iPhone bonk to 'Pay' app launches on Monday

Steve Todd
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Re: If I understand the technology correctly @AC

You seem to have confused iTunes with Pay. iTunes needs either a registered credit card or a gift card to make purchases through the store. "Pay" OCRs one or more cards and sends the details to the issuer in order to request a token. Once the phone has a token then it needs not hold the OCRed data and can throw it away. The two sets of cards need not overlap.

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Steve Todd
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If I understand the technology correctly

Apple don't know or need to know any of the users credit card details. They get a token from the card operator which they store on a user's phone and send, with other cryptographic details, to the vendor on request. The vendor attaches a price and forwards the combination to the credit card company, who look up the token to find the account details and subtracts the amount. No need for the phone to know the card number, expiry date or what have you. They don't even need to send a new token if a card expires, just update the details against the existing token. If a token is comprised in some way they can invalidate it and issue a new one without changing the card.

It sounds like a pretty clever and secure solution to the problem.

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Jonny Ive: Flattered by rivals' designs? Nah, its 'theft'

Steve Todd
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FAIL

Re: To quote Saint Jobs himself:

Understand that Jobs himself was quoting, and what was meant. See http://www.creativethinkinghub.com/creative-thinking-and-stealing-like-an-artist/

If Samsung had taken Apple's ideas and spun them into something uniquely different then I don't think that Ive would have been annoyed. It's that spinning that takes time and effort (tablet machines had existed for years before the iPad, but it was significantly different too them). Samsung went the Good Artist route.

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No one wants iOS 8 because it's for NERDS - dev

Steve Todd
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6GB download?

It's a little over a gig, the decompression and install phases need 6GB of free space, unless you upgrade with iTunes (no, it doesn't have to reorganise your media folders etc.)

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Official: Turing's Bombe BETTER than a Concorde plane

Steve Todd
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Yes and no

The Poles came up with the original Bombe, but Turing et al came up with a different attack on the cipher and a revised Bombe to use it. Also Colosus was developed to break the Lorenz cypher, a teleprinter rotor cipher that was far more complicated than Enigma, requiring Colosus to run its input loop at 5000 characters per second to break it. This was the first use of valves in a (semi) programable machine.

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Hot DRAM! Samsung splurges $15 BILLION on Korean chip fab

Steve Todd
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How long before its up to speed and cranking out commercial volumes though?

I can guarantee that it won't be the middle of 2017, it can take years to get a fab tuned properly.

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Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’

Steve Todd
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Firstly

£4M is a tiny amount when it comes to public spending. If it's done in the name of starting new companies and creating jobs then I'm in favour of it.

Secondly modern electronic coms can only take you so far, and often chance meetings with other folks nearby can spark ideas, so there is still plenty of need for physical startup offices.

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How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?

Steve Todd
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What happened to MP4 AAC?

That's the default lossy CODEC in iTunes, and is WAY better than MP3. It doesn't have the 16K cut-off for example.

You do need a decent quality system before the CODEC fidelity becomes obvious, but you don't need to spend vast amounts of money constructing one.

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ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7

Steve Todd
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Re: Coincidence or by Design?

No, it isn't. The A7/A8 are based on Apple developed cores code named Cyclone, which was derived from the work on the A6 Swift core. They are rather more power efficient than the A57.

Like Qualcomm Apple have an architectural licence with ARM that allows them to design their own silicon providing it meets the ISA specs that ARM provide.

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Phones 4u demise: 1,700 employees laid off with redundo package

Steve Todd
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1) They DID start a MVNO, called LIFE, that was probably part of the problem. They were competing with their own suppliers.

2) Neither Voda nor EE renaged on their deals, they just anounced that they wouldn't be renewing them. They did this because P4U wouldn't or most likely couldn't offer them the terms they wanted. P4U was saddled with a shed load of debt, so likely couldn't afford to do this. The shops that Voda and EE were interested in were ones that didn't clash with their own store networks, and are thus unlikely to be the most valuable.

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Microsoft vs the long arm of US law: Straight outta Dublin

Steve Todd
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Re: Will the German government be sensible?

@Ross, you seem to have confused commercial law in the form of the EULA with criminal law in the form of the EU Data Protection Directive as implemented in Irish law. The EULA CANNOT remove rights and legal obligations under criminal law. You could write into the EULA that Microsoft have the right to kill you (no one reads it anyway), but criminal law renders that null and void.

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Apple iPhone 6: Looking good, slim. AW... your battery died

Steve Todd
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The Nokia phones are doing almost nothing

While they are in standby. A smart phone is, at the very least, fetching emails and running other background tasks. It's the fact that you are using the phone continually throughout the day that kills the battery, as would spending the day talking on the Nokia.

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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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