* Posts by Timo

270 posts • joined 26 Sep 2007

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Windows 10 handcuffs Cortana web search to Bing and Edge browser

Timo

Win10 upgrade - those bastards

My mother got caught out by this, she called in a frenzy that her computer had just shut itself down in the middle of her using it.

The popup windows for the 10 upgrade only give you two choices "upgrade now", or "upgrade later". They don't give you the choice of not to upgrade, you have to hit the "X" to get out of it this time around.

I think there have been other choice combinations of "upgrade now" vs. "do not upgrade right now" (with the fine print of "do it later today"). No choice for "FO".

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Timo

Re: Cue the hackers in 3, 2, 1...

Legend has it that the keypad arrangements were chosen to use a different layout specifically to slow down people as they mash in the number. Desktop calculators, or "adding machines" with cranks on the side had been around for a while, and the usual office worker could overload or confuse the phone system with their speed if they used the adding machine format.

Bell Labs did TONS of really long-haired research in the planning of the phone network.

Of course that same logic doesn't need to apply to your smartphone, does it...

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FBI ends second iPhone fight after someone, um, 'remembers' the PIN

Timo
Big Brother

this whole unlocking thing kills their bluffs

The cops seem to use a lot of bluffing to get people to cooperate. If crims know that their phone is encrypted and Apple won't assist in unlocking it, then that takes away a big bluff that the cops surely have had in their pocket.

Or at least that is how it works on TV...

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Big Cable threatens to sue FCC: You can't stop us ripping off customers

Timo

C'mon cable, just finish the job

I would really like to see cable price themselves out of existence. They're so close already.

Then we could all just focus on some innovating and move forward. Cable TV and their business model is frozen in time.

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USB-C adds authentication protocol

Timo

Cue expensive overpriced cables

Also - if these cables need to do sophisticated encryption and handshaking so that the device will accept them, does it also mean that the cable itself needs to have expensive active components? One more excuse to crank up the price, argh.

@horridbloke - there is a device that is available that "neuters" a USB connection so that only power gets through. It was reported on El Reg some time ago, in fact a little googling finds the USB Condom http://int3.cc/products/usbcondoms, or there are many instructions online on how to create your own. Granted that is for traditional USB but aren't the cables interchangeable on the host end?

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Timo

I can't wait

I can see this working both ways - how long will it take an OS vendor to blacklist every cable except for the ones that carry their brand?

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Web servers should give browsers a leg-up, say MIT boffins

Timo

I'd let the market sort this out

I abandoned the Weather Channel website long ago, after all of the ads and clickbaiting and the glacially slow loading times. Nearly the same reason that I dumped the Weather Channel TV channel - remember they used to show weather? But now show shark week and "when tornadoes attack" stuff to fill the time between the barrage of ads. (Same thing with MTV; Damn kids, get off my lawn.)

I posit that rather than fixing the weather channel, let any other company come in and deliver a better experience and get the traffic. I'm not sure that this is something that really needs a technical solution. OR - just load adblockers and take care of those pesky slow ad loading times.

BTW El Reg sometimes seems to stall when its cut-rate adslinging servers take a break.

And - is this something that can easily be twisted into a web server denial of service method? Or does it mean that the Weather Channel will need to buy a lot more computing capacity to pre-optimize their crap site? I'm fine with that - it might drive them to do an economic analysis of whether it is better to sling more ads and buy more server capacity.

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BBC telly tax drops onto telly-free households. Cough up, iPlayer fans

Timo

For us on the left side of the pond - how much?

How much is this TV license for the BBC? Is it tens of pounds, or hundreds, or thousands per TV per year?

Found it online:

It costs £145.50 for a colour and £49.00 for a black and white TV Licence. In some cases, you may be entitled to a reduced fee TV Licence (see table below).

That is a non-trivial amount, but probably cheaper than any other alternative?

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Austinites outraged as Google Fiber tears up Texas capital

Timo

You can't make a cake without cracking a few eggs

That's all. People want the services but don't want the last mile to disrupt their local version of paradise.

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Wi-Fi operators must notify device users of potential data processing

Timo

Re: Several of the mobile operators already do this!

Unless I missed something, all that it will likely require is that the operator insert a disclaimer somewhere in the initial screens, with wording similar to "we might process your data". That would satisfy the lawyers and the company is covered. They might look at your data, or they might not.

United States did something similar with allergy warnings on food. People got legislation in place that a company must notify if there is a possibility of the product having allergens in it. Answer? Nearly every product has a warning "this product may contain ingredients that people are allergic to."

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West Virginia mulls mother of all muni networks – effectively a state-wide, state-run ISP

Timo

I hope they can pull this off

WV really has nothing to lose. A few hundred million invested in this could really bring them from worst-to-first. Even if it just serves to set a performance floor for any other private entrant. I'd like to see them make this happen and make it actually work - and hope that it isn't all screwed up by general government cronyism and mismanagement.

Cue ATT, Comcast, or $Other_hated_ISP with slides of "we're going to wire everyone, starting the day after tomorrow" in 3... 2... 1...

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Five technologies you shouldn't bother looking out for in 2016

Timo

Re: Five technologies you shouldn't bother looking out for in 2016

>> - nice easy to install media server that will run in the background for streaming sound and video off the hard drive

Go get Plex. It comes as an installable package for Mint, and it streams wonderfully to just about any device. I've got it on a laptop serving up files to various Roku boxes through the house.

Best way to get into Linux may be to download Mint and load it onto a spare laptop that you can use to surf the web and get acclimated, then you may discover how much or how little you need Windows.

I do understand the switching anxiety, but then there are many other apps out there that are available on Linux that work, that require a lot of hassling to get them working in a Windows environment.

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Nest thermostat owners out in the cold after software update cockup

Timo
Flame

the internet isn't the problem

The "internet" isn't the problem here, it is that Nest automatically rolled out crap software. Imagine coming home some day and finding out your shiny shiny was remotely bricked by an update and your house is now very cold.

Hey, didn't Nest have some other problem with their smoke detector in that they had to disable some functionality (after users had bought it for that function)?

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American robocallers to be shamed in public lists

Timo
Terminator

received a call from a political survey recently

I received a robo-call from one of the political parties recently, and they had the nerve to ask me what was the biggest problem that was facing society right now (or what did I want said party to fix).

I responded with "do something about unwanted phone calls, LIKE THIS ONE". He was annoyed at my answer, but I think he was bound to capture it as feedback (otherwise it would be sample tampering.)

I have also been experiencing actual robo-calls with an interactive voice system behind it. The last one played back a sound clip that attempted to sound indignant when I called it a robot.

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Joining the illuminati? Just how bright can a smart bulb really be?

Timo

bring back the number ratings for the Reg Reviews

I miss the 0/10 ratings and the short list of pro/cons. Would love to see this ranked, I bet at about a 4?

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Sick of politicians robo-calling you? Bin your landline, says the FCC

Timo

can I get a 900 number?

This is one of those times when I wish I could get one of those premium-rate numbers, so that when the robots and politicians call I would get the last laugh. $1.99 per minute would work out nicely.

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Your voter-trolling autodialer is illegal: The cringey moment the FCC spanks a congresscritter

Timo

gotta love them... idiots

I got an unsolicited call from a "human" at the republican party, and they asked me what was the most pressing issue that I thought was facing Uhh-merica.

When I told him "STOP UNSOLICITED JUNK CALLS, LIKE THE ONE YOU ARE MAKING TO ME RIGHT NOW" he had to pause to write it down, and then another pause to try to come up with a reply. He attempted to tell me that he was doing nothing wrong.

I challenged him - if you can't find a way to stop these calls then how can I believe that your political party is capable of fixing the economy or bringing world peace?

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You care about TIN? Why the Open Compute Project is irrelevant

Timo
Pint

I believe you hit your word count target

Well done. You used a lot of words to say very little.

Have a beer.

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Sprint: Forget all we said about strangling your web video streams

Timo

isn't it enough for a small screen?

I'll probably be crucified for saying this, but on a small screen that might be enough to render a decent picture. Also Sprint seems to have tested it, it wasn't just something they made up.

Of course 600kbps is definitely not enough for the big screen, but it might work on the train.

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Dell System Detect update vulnerability exposed

Timo

probably should not be running this

From what I remember back when we had Dells, this is a utility to sift through the system to locate updated drivers. A half-decent sysadmin would not want to update drivers automatically, so would not (and should not) be running this software at all. Fine for the case when you've just wiped granny's computer but then not having it auto-update might leave it vulnerable for a long time.

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Systemax CEO closes 31 retail stores in US as losses widen

Timo

Re: Why you never heard of Systemax stores

I think in the US that Systemax is known as TigerDirect, and they have a handful of retail stores with that name. They bought the defunct CompUSA brand name and were using that for a while, running stores that carried both names.

I always felt that TigerDirect was suspect given their shady rebate deals and other things, and this was 10 years ago. To find out that the boss Carl was crooked confirmed that. I thought he was already nabbed on other similar charges a few years ago?

I don't think Microcenter is in that mix, at least I hope it isn't as they are one of only a few places around that carry geek gear. They seem like a legit business.

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Sh** just got real: Amazon to open actual shop in New York City

Timo

"Service Merchandise" catalog showrooms

Everything that is old is new again - there were "catalog showrooms" all over the US, where you roamed through displays of goods, wrote down what you wanted, paid for it, and then waited.... while your "salesman" ran into the back to go pull it off a shelf and assemble your order. Never did understand the point of them. The last of them went tits-up about 20 years ago.

I imagine that they were killed by the big-box retailers where you do all the work yourself and save them the money of having to pull your order.

The other thing that is already back on the "reinvented" is the catalog pickup shelves. When I was a kid, a few of the major US department stores had storefronts locally that were nothing more than shelves of deliveries. You'd make a catalog order over the phone, then you could go locally to pick it up, almost like a department-store's own post-office-box solution. Haven't we seen those recently?

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Massachusetts shoots down car dealers' Tesla-busting sueball

Timo

serious tax implications

Many local economies (read: city governments) are funded by car dealerships. I know my town is. The towns will fight to the death to keep or get one.

I like the idea of going direct and generally sticking it to the car dealers, but I know that my town's temple that it built to itself ("city hall") on Main Street doesn't pay for itself. If sales tax goes down they're going to come after the residents to make up the gap. They may go for yet another sales tax increase, or come after us for more property tax.

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Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT

Timo
Facepalm

Re: Not convinced by the crown thing

And using the crown for input relegates the iWatch to a right-handed only device.

Unless lefties are expected to put the thing on upside-down in order to get the crown on the usable side? (Damn, I bet I will regret not patenting that idea.)

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BONEHEAD FANBOIS encamp outside Apple Stores

Timo

might be brilliant paid/viral advertising

Pay a few people to sit in line and look interested. Reporters go talk to them, get the names of their companies, and whammo the free advertising kicks in.

That these companies would be seen in the company as wholly, blindindly, astoundingly, awesome as Apple lends them some points in credibility and the overall "halo". Yes I'm being sarcastic, but maybe only halfway.

After all, El Reg has just named the companies at work here, so there's one round of free adverts. Surprised the tents are not slathered with banners.

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New Sprint CEO says he will lower axe on staff – but prices come first

Timo

wow maybe a CEO that isn't lost

What a change to get a CEO that understands where Sprint sits in the US wireless industry pecking order (at the bottom and falling farther behind.)

A breath of fresh air to get someone there that lists investing in the network as one of the top priorities. In the past it seems that they thought they could fix their crap network by pouring money into marketing and advertising.

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The final score: Gramophones 1 – Glassholes 0

Timo

Nobody has figured out how to jam the camera?

Where is the anti-glasshole technology? I thought it was possible to jam video cameras with infrared transmitters, and movie studios were doing it to thwart people who were taking a videocam into the theatre to pirate movies, videocams being sensitive to light just outside of the visible band.

Wouldn't it be possible to make a hat studded with IR LED's or something and have it generate a confusing IR field that would disrupt the Glass's camera? It would kind of be like wearing your own Glass disruption field. Or the entire bar could be fitted with some kind of IR jamming device (think super bright lamps with filters installed that only pass IR.)

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Uber kindly agrees not to price gouge during disasters

Timo

This gets in the way of the "economic" solution

@Destroy: I completely agree.

Having the market set the price is exactly what makes this cheap in boring time periods, and then expensive but balanced in busy time periods. If some disaster happened (like terrorism, or a transit strike) then you would expect the prices to go sky-high initially, and those prices would motivate people to become suppliers, driving prices back down or at least dampening the increase. There would be a new equilibrium point, albeit at higher prices. And that would be right at the time that you needed the transport capacity the most. It costs the city practically nothing to add transit capacity via Uber (especially when compared to adding buses or trains.)

So with this price ceiling, all it will do is create scarcity as demand goes up but supply remains. Or people may even withdraw from the system so they can be completely independent. Nice job. Right exactly when you would want to have a fluid market for transport.

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Fridge hacked. Car hacked. Next up, your LIGHT BULBS

Timo
Flame

now lightbulbs need a firmware upgrade?

How in the world will we go about doing firmware upgrades to lightbulbs? Do the bulbs get their own upgrades, or is there an app that needs to be loaded on some other (higher functioning) device in order to push the upgrade.

Is this where the Internet - o - Things is going? You'll need a fiber optic link to the internet and a high usage cap just so all of your devices can stay up to date.

Lights off - "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that."

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You need a list of specific unknowns we may encounter? Huh?

Timo
Thumb Up

If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.

There is a spoof site at "Despair Inc" that rips off the "Successories" management stuff of a decade ago.

http://www.despair.com/consulting.html

"Consulting: If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem."

Not that the consulting is the problem in this case, but that there is more money to be made playing along with the problem, than there is in actually speaking your mind and trying to fix stuff.

Most huge companies don't really want to fix things, they just want to perpetuate their golden silos of paper shuffling jobs.

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FCC boss threatens to BRING WRATH DOWN on states that limit broadband competition

Timo

sounds good, or is it?

At first glance I'm all for this, get me any access that isn't from one of the craptacular major providers. A little competition can go a very long way in terms of raising the bar on service or pricing, or both.

But on second thought, if this comes down to municipal/town doing the rollouts, then color me cynical. This will be another avenue to hire the mayor's brother in law, or neighbor, to do the deployment and network management, to nobody's benefit except a couple of cronies. My town completely screwed up a garbage contract, handing more profits to the garbage collection company, so it scares me how they might "manage" a broadband system.

Although there is probably already enough cronyism in the existing 3-player system, that what's the big deal of adding a 4th player?

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Reg probe bombshell: How we HACKED mobile voicemail without a PIN

Timo

VM PIN vs CLI

The idea of using the incoming IMEI and/or billing number ID will be hard to do. Yes those numbers are presented to the mobile operator network, but into a much different part of the network (billing system vs. call processing), and at a much different stage of the call setup. CLI may be handled in real-time, while billing records are not exactly handled in real-time.

The network has to allow you to dial in from remotely for the cases when you are roaming and your call to yourself would come in from outside the operator. This seems to be a convention the GSM-based carriers have arranged, as others have stated there are many networks where PIN is mandatory for every access.

About the only solution that I could see happening quickly is that if you are authenticated on the network (like home network, or home operator) that you could get straight into your voicemail. The other cases where the call comes from outside the network, would require a PIN for voicemail access. (Conceptuallly very similar to port tagging on the inbound trunks.) This will create lots of fun and confusion for all of the people (me included) who set a VM PIN years ago, but then find they can't get into their voicemail from the road the first time after this is enabled.

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Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update

Timo

I would almost want more integrated into "hubs"

I have an old WP7.5 model, and it does do some pretty cool stuff with the communication history, matching up phone calls with SMS's, giving an overall view. I wish that it was more prominent in the phone as I stumble across it every now and then. It works great, especially when you've just had an SMS exchange with someone and you want to switch to a voice conversation.

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Google's Nest halts sales of its fire alarm – because waving your hand switches it off

Timo

not only a features... but a bug

This make an obvious demonstration of the benefits and problems with automatic "upgrades" delivered over the net, and without user intervention or control. I have heard of Nest thermostats being bricked automatically by updates in the past, with no ability to opt out of the upgrade loop. It upgrades itself and you only find out when it fails... and you come home to a cold house.

Now there will surely be people that bought the smoke alarm and considered this as a feature, but it is being removed. Sony didn't fare too well when they reduced functionality.

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The browser's resized future in a fragmented www world

Timo

server-side

It would be good to include some of the server-side business and politics in the story.

For example, in the early days of the WWW, Netscape had a large market share in the web server market, and they did collect serious amounts of license fees. But... being an open standard, someone came along with a more open, more free webserver (Apache was one, may not have been the first.) And this probably cut off Netscape's revenue flows. Microsoft had one too that shipped with the OS's (IIS?), it helped enable things on the desktop but it was full of security holes IIRC. It would be interesting to know if Netscape made more revenues on the server or client side of the business.

So the punchline is that the disruptors got disrupted. That trend continues to this day.

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Nokia to Devs: PLEASE DON'T make Nokiadroid apps look like WinPho

Timo

Re: Now if they can get ports the other way

@Herby - I'm not sure that there are any WinPho apps worth porting to Android.

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Nokia launches Euro ANDROID invasion, quips: 'Microsoft knew what they were buying'

Timo

this would actually save Microsoft money in the long run

Nokia could save on the costs of development of the WP OS over the long run. And it doesn't appear that Microsoft is willing to put the money into their WP OS to create an ecosystem whatsoever.

I've had a Nokia WP (7.5) for over a year now, and when I first got it the thing seemed really promising... with the assumption that over time there would be improvements to the OS and that something, anything, would be done to the App Store (or Marketplace, whatever it is called.)

But now a year and a half later the app store is still crap. Windows Phone is completely ignored/overlooked by all of the major app creators.

Honestly there are some things that the phone does really well, but then the majority of the time it seems like it has been completely abandoned.

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TiVo: Yes we've axed staff, but we're NOT packing in hardware biz

Timo

They might be able to refocus on cord-cutters

We had a tivo box in 2007 or so and loved it, then when the hardware died a couple of years ago we dumped them. Now we've suffered with the archaic cable box for too long and the introductory offer for the free box is over, so I picked up a refurbed one this week for $49 plus service.

I'm going to spend the next year trying to get the wife off of cable. Its all complete and total crap except for maybe one or two shows.

I am well aware that I could build my own HTPC that would also have DVR capabilities, but I have other hobbies that are more rewarding for me. It is continually on my wish list of things to do.

The Tivo boxes that can capture over the air signals can offer a pretty good value for a lot of people. I did that a year ago for my parents, and they love it. They get something like 25 channels OTA, and can stream netflix, etc. For them it has been perfect (they're too cheap to go for cable.)

The one thing that seems really retarded in this day and age is that they expect you to buy a separate streaming box AND separate service fees in order to stream out of the box to mobiles, etc in the home or on the internet. So many people go pick up slingboxes that don't need monthly fees. I think they're starting to roll those into their higher-end boxes.

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Sensors and sensibility: Quirky’s Spotter multi-purpose monitor module

Timo

why not bypass the wink parts and go straight to the Imp?

This looks like a service (wink or Quirky/whatever by GE) built on top of the Imp service? So what if you ditched the Quirky part and used Electric Imp directly instead?

Would that give you more or less software service for your hardware?

1
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Brits won't have to pay for thieves' enormous mobe bills any more

Timo

so everyone will get to pay then

If the family won't have to pay, then the mobile company will eat it then, right?

Hmm, only then the mobile operator will spread those costs across ALL customers. You don't believe for a second that they're going to pay it themselves do you?

Also an unintended consequence - if someone loses their phone there will not be much incentive to call in to report it stolen, and thieves will be able to rack up more calls (driving up the stolen phone costs to the operator, that we'll all pay indirectly.)

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Sonos and I: How home media playback just gets SO FRUSTRATING

Timo

great article

It is pretty surprising that all of the sources are set up to play through the crappiest speakers in the house.

I think someone has figured out how to take audio into a Raspberry Pi, grab it and stream it across a network. It isn't going to be compatible with your Sonos setup but will be cheap at the tradeoff that you will probably have hours of "enjoyment" tinkering with it.

I've been searching for a cheap alternative to the Sonos setup, and think there may be a solution in a Raspberry Pi, with open source slimplayer/squeezebox clients. Server may not be as beautiful but it is possible to sync clients together.

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Beijing's trainware busted by bustling commuter bunches

Timo
Facepalm

Similar thing just happened in Chicago

The Chicago Transit Authority is in the throes of its changeover to a farecard type system. Only it isn't working out very well. I heard on the TV this morning that the system went belly-up yesterday, and 50,000 riders were given free access during rush hour.

0
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Intel slumps into mud despite lobbing Internet-of-Things, etc at buyers

Timo

Internet of Things isn't just a new board formfactor

The "Internet of Things" will need to be small, low power, and LOW COST boards.

It seems that Intel is only able to respin PC board form factors - what is it now after ATX, mini-ATX, etc?

About the only thing left for Intel is to be those servers that get hooked to the back of TV's for information displays and animated advertising, but even then there are different boxes that can do it for much less.

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T-Mobile FREES AMERICANS to roam world sans terrifying charges

Timo

there is still a problem here

TMO, with their general lack of coverage outside of any major metropolitan area, is not a wireless operator that an enterprise will tolerate. Being reachable and in wireless coverage is important to businesses, they know what makes their revenues flow, and so they're going to be on Verizon for coverage, or ATT for, dunno, their iPhones. TMO isn't enterprise-grade. Being a disruptor and cutting the monthly costs doesn't fix spotty coverage. Businesses can't afford to save money with TMO.

Now, if TMO opened up roaming WITHIN the US, so that I could use ATT or anyone else for coverage while driving down the interstate highways, then maybe they would be worth using.

Don't believe me? Check opensignal, and get outside of any city and see what sort of coverage they have.

0
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Brew me up, bro: 11-year-old plans to make BEER IN SPACE

Timo
Pint

Brewing generates a ton of CO2

As the yeast consume the sugars they throw off alcohol and a lot of carbon dioxide. It doesn't seem like they would want much more CO2 onboard, loading down the life support systems.

0
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Atomic clocks come to your wrist

Timo

Re: Mine cost about £100

Those atomic clocks only check in at night, supposedly when the atmospheric conditions are best for the signal propagation. I assume that as a 10 dollar clock it isn't disciplining the oscillator and is only resetting the time once per day.

The timing signal itself is blindingly simple, as an analog radio transmission carrying an audio signal. If you have a shortwave radio you can pick them up and decode the ticking with your ears.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWV_(radio_station)

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Timo

Re: Expensive toy, at best.

I think you'll find that Cesium oscillators are already used as timebases in many "servers", especially for telecom equipment. LTE needs or will need it (especially LTE-Advanced) for very precise timing synchronization (sites that are neighbors must be within 1.5 microseconds for some iterations of LTE-A.)

NTP is fine for logfiles and timestamps but isn't going to get you that close.

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Former Microsoftie in AUTOMATIC BEER MAKER funding plea

Timo

Re: Credit where credits due

@BeerTokens - I completely agree. A person can make great beer with around $100 of equipment. $250 will get you pretty far into all-grain. The beer from this machine isn't going to to be 15 times better than that.

My take on this is that it's a gadget that moneyed folk will buy for bragging rights. First big warning sign is that you can personalize it or customize the color or startup screen. And so for the people that buy these as a home-fashion accessory, the novelty will wear off quickly. Then it might be time to find one on the second-hand market.

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Timo

Re: Only brews beer up to 3.7% ABV

I always understood "proof" to be determined so that "100 proof" was the point of flammability. 50% alcohol by volume in a liquid is what it takes to set said mix on fire.

You can find in some places "Bacardi 151" rum that is 151 proof, or roughly 75% alcohol. Used to make many different kinds of flaming shot drinks. The shot is often set on fire and served up or dumped into another mixer for effect.

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BlackBerry ripped itself apart wooing CIOs AND iPhone fanbois - insiders

Timo

hard to disrupt your own nice business

It is always very dangerous to handcuff yourself to your customers, and obey them completely. You're still handcuffed to them as they drive off a cliff when business shifts. Sometimes you ride over the cliff with them (if their business is tanking), other times they'll bail at the last second and leave you to go on your own.

In this case it was the CIO's that forbade cameras and social networking, etc., and that loved Blackberry's management functions. In previous iterations of IT disruption (Macs in the workforce, personal devices) management was able to block users from getting their way. But the shiny iThings are the Trojan horse that enters the company through the corner office, and that's when the walls fall down.

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