910 posts • joined Tuesday 10th April 2007 06:11 GMT
Re: So. Jobs was wrong.
From what I know from discussions with real designers of products like it, the exposed antenna was a pretty bad design in the first place. While there's always a need to not shield an antenna by casing it in metal, exposing it was a way round this however this meant that it could be grounded by contact with the user's hands. The models that didn't suffer from reception problems appeared to have a good quality coating that covers and insulates the antenna, the models that didn't either didn't have this coating or it was poorly or patchily applied.
Oh dear. It's early Friday and already laughing at folk on t'Internet :)
“The amazing thing is that nature seems to have found ways of blowing up a wide range of stars in the most dramatic and violent way.”
That has to be the quote of the day :)
Apple have followed the stable, don't rock the boat, path with their phones for a little too long now. While the hardware is generally good, barring the obligatory build quality failures that plague production to a cost and a few other poor design choices, are well engineered as well. Unfortunately iOS itself is really not looking the whizz shiny interface that it used to be, it's still smooth and still works but now lags behind everything.
Microsoft have a much more fresh looking UI, although (subjectively for me, I find it ugly as sin), the UI is plagued by more inconsistencies than other phone OSes and while very good for a few tasks tends to really fail for others and fails on quite a lot of counts for basic UI principles. Again, and subjectively, I find the look of the some of the devices quite disappointing, but this is probably down to the sheer lack of choice as too many users and manufacturers have been burnt by the 6 to 6.5 to 7 changes. The lack of a wide range of devices and app support really seems to be hampering uptake and the Microsoft brand is not one that screams "trust" or "reliability" which is very bad for consumers. While the range of devices is wider than Apple's, therefore the lack of variety would seem an off argument, there isn't the cult of Apple or "cool" factor driving uptake.
Android... a very mixed bag of devices. The wide range gives a lot of choice for the consumer and the manufacturers really are producing a wide selection of looks, feels, features and price points. Unfortunately many of the devices are sub-standard and quite appalling to use and some manufacturers just fling so many models out there that you're left with no clear idea what are the good ones and which aren't. The manufacturer's own interfaces often detract rather than enhance the experience and add horrible delays to the delivery of OS updates, some of which are quite desirable.
...and my take on all of this. The competition is good. Without it we'd be languishing around with whatever crap a few suppliers feel fit to give us. Apple really changed the mobile market with a device that was polished at many levels and while they've stagnated recently it's not impossible for them, bean-counter excepting, to turn things around it does feel like they've lost it on the iPhone.
Re: The widespread belief that lithium-ion batteries don't suffer from “charge memory”
From reading the engineering rags relating to this kind of technology, the most damaging thing to do to these batteries is over charging. There is a very big difference between the cheaper and and the more expensive charging control circuits.
To reduce the risk of charge memory (aka tide marks) the majority of modern software controlled battery management systems have a charge threshold where they don't charge a battery when it's past (e.g.) 97% full unless it started below that point. This prevents the device from charging to 100%, running down to 99%, then charging to 100% and so on.
The other big problem is judging the scale of battery capacity itself. The tech and monitoring for this has is still improving all the time and in itself requires quite complicated management software to track the changes over time and even consider environmental factors in order to reliably produce an even close approximation of the real battery level.
Re: @Anon 12:10
But she didn't "cost the majority of miners their livelihood."
Take an industry that is bogged down by tradition, hamstrung by unions and deeply unprofitable... what do you have? You certainly don't have a viable industry. Despite the opinions of some of the rabid few, these businesses didn't exist solely for the benefit of providing jobs for those workers that, in between strikes, were employed in it. While I understand that there were some mines that were profitable at the time and were predicted to continue being for a reasonable period, most were not.
While there is an element of "greater good" in such infrastructure there are points when it makes no sense to prop up failing industries. It's never nice or pleasant for those involved at the actual working (end) level, but these are the realities of life and have been for hundreds of years. Whole industries have grown and disappeared in this country since even before the industrial revolution, many of them fighting tooth and nail, sporting dirty tricks including laws through friends in power, the whole lot, but eventually things change. The biggest problem is that areas were so entirely dependent on one industry that when the inevitable happened, it caused wholesale change in the area. These problems were predicted far before this time, mines only have finite resources and have run many times before, but with growing specialisation and dependency the risks were higher.
Seeing those funky clones reminded me of all the adverts I used to see in the computer rags of the time, featuring replacement cases for the Spectrums and similar. Giving them hard keys, better angles, all the works really while largely just moving the internals from one case to another.
Self service requires one of two things:
Trustworthy knowledgable users
Systems that are so simple that they can't really be configured wrongly (or if so, where a basic user is able to fix it), or systems so smart that everything is automated.
The last I heard are here there were plans to colour (paint) them more appropriately so they don't stick out like ugly sore thumbs. I believe that alternative shapes and designs were considered as well, as this is just a cover really as the interior will largely be the same.
But then telephone boxes are big red, largely useless (now) boxes, often scratched and damaged but they're a part of the sights of Britain now and quite a few are "protected" structures.
Re: 4G - what is the point...
Not just Scotland, try such 3G-forsaken places as the West Country. Often you're lucky to get a voice signal with 3, and as they do 3G or nothing (no 2G) you just don't get data down there in a lot of places.
It's improving steadily but it's still a pitiful service outside of main conurbations and towns.
Re: 10 billion light years between interactions? Sounds good enough to me
As I understand it this is referring to a photon hitting "something" (solid). The article is relating to the traversal of photons through vacuum space and their interactions with fundamental particles that "pop in and out of existence". It's sometimes easier to think of "vacuum" as a zero state much like the surface of boiling water - taken on a wide average it's flat, but as you get closer to the scale of the boiling there are peaks and troughs.
Re: Upsetting luvvies...
I like Stephen Fry, but that doesn't mean that I accept what he says on technical matters as correct. Sometimes it's said in a tongue in cheek way and is plainly for comedy value, others it seems that he's just bullshitting out of habit which is more worrying as people do believe him - but then this does separate the idiots from those that might question what is said.
However he does have a lot of very valid points and is entertaining as well, which ranks him above a lot of other entertainers and miles ahead of the vacuous reality show "stars".
It's "just" a replacement back cover
Surely there could be a couple of different replacement back covers, supporting whichever tech is in use. It would allow both to run and we'd see what actually works in reality.
That's usually down to the different fonts. Microsoft have invested heavily in producing optimal fonts for their shell and applications and this work pays off as the rendering of the fonts and the fonts themselves are designed to work together.
If you own a recent copy of Windows and run Linux (for instance, dual booting), then you should be able to copy the system display fonts from Windows to Linux, set the font preferences and see the difference these make for yourself.
Win RT updates
I don't have a Win RT device, but am wondering - what's the patch experience like with them?
Re: RS232 is still relevant
You always need some way to get access regardless of how successfully you manage to stuff things up. RS232 is especially useful when you knacker the TCP/IP stack or somehow mis-type the configuration or not-so carefully mis-type it's IP address.
Been there, done that, probably have a few medals somewhere. It's actually quite hard to permanently brick modern embedded systems.
Re: @Nissemus & MdB: : ((
Too true. To deny that life exists elsewhere, in whatever form, is to deny that life exists here.
There are very reasonable hypotheses that Mars once sheltered life but the planetary environment wasn't stable enough to support it as a lack of an atmosphere is usually considered bad for life so it didn't last long nor was likely to have developed much past "slime".
As for Intelligent Life: Well, we're no closer to finding any of that anywhere... :)
Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown, and things seem hard
and people are stupid, obnoxious or daft,
and you feel that you've had quite enouuuuuuuuugh...
member that your standing on a planet that's evolving,
and revolving at nine hundred miles an hour...
That's orbiting at ninety miles a second, so it's reckoned,
the sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me, and all the stars that we can see,
are moving at a million miles a day.
in an outer spiral-arm at forty thousand miles an hour
of the galaxy we call the Milky Way.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars,
it's a hundred thousand lightyears side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand lightyears thick,
but out by us it's just three thousand lightyears wide.
We're thirty thousand lightyears from galactic central point,
we go 'round every two hundred million years.
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions,
in this amazing and expanding universe.
The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding,
in all of the directions it can whiz.
As fast as it can go, that's the speed of light you know;
twelve million miles a minute, that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember when your feeling very small and insecure,
how amazingly unlikely is your birth,
and pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'cause there's bugger-all down here on earth!
How about discussing the realities of just how many real users would really like to spend £100's on computers and software "just" to do their job and how this is being carefully ignored by the pushers of BYOD management infrastructure who have their own agenda - i.e. sell their services.
Staff using their own mobile devices, such as phones, to access corporate resources is one thing. They own these devices already and it's extending usage of an existing resource.
It reads like he's trying to re-invent the original premise of Ultima Online. Little things that didn't work such as players policing the virtual world themselves, dilligently trying not to accidentally "grief" each other, somehow magically persuading those that were "griefing" other players to stop. All the magic, lalalala land things that never worked and had to be replaced by game mechanics - which due to the shoddy coding were usually exploitable in some way.
Re: First C Compiler
A while ago I had to take over code from somebody who thought that compiler warnings and hints were just a nuisance and therefore turned them off. It took me weeks to get his damn code clear of access violations, accessing objects after deletion, invalid type casts, memory trampling, out of range errors and doubtless a few other nasties as well. This was before I had to deal with merging the operational code with the user interface, a complete non-understanding of threading, serial bus protocols and error handling and a testing side of the application that used entirely different paths of code to the live side.
On other projects I have come across a couple of genuine cases where the warnings did need to be turned off for a small section of code, as the compiler was producing an invalid warning and coding around the compiler just to remove a warning is not an entirely sensible technique. This requirement was clearly documented in the code, which at least excuses the practice for the small section of code that it was required for.
Good. The more interoperability these services have the better. Then they can compete properly on service quality, cost and ease of use rather than just vendor lock-in.
Hmmm. It's a good list but missing a few: Missile Command, Galaxian, some of the overhead multi-player racing around the track games (can never remember the name - you get spanners and such to power up your car after races), the afterburner type pseudo-3d high speed shoot em up, and there are no examples of vertically scrolling shooters either, such as "battle for midway" but I'm sure that wasn't the first and possibly not the best.
There was also a ground breakingly different one where you got to drive a tank using two vertically aligned joysticks...
Most problems like this are down to using inefficient data formats. Longitude and latitude are good for many purposes but there are other (I'm under NDA on this, just Google them!) methods of storing spatial co-ordinates other than cartesian coordinates and some of these make it much easier to locate the closest N records out of a large dataset.
It still does often come down to the required level of accuracy, smart filtering such in the boundary box of the example given in the article and other manually prescribed optimisations.
Re: Sounds good in theory, but...
I think it's very good that these things are being tried. Features like this have been thought about, written into SciFi and just plotted for quite a while. Actually implementing it is something different entirely, and only through trying can you work out just how well it works or doesn't.
This is similar to the eye tracking feature that prevents the S3 from sleeping when you're looking at it. It works quite well on most occasions, but by putting it out there on real, live devices the performance can be judged, tweaked and improved based on real life usage rather than lab tests with those who are used to it. This feature can be disabled as well, so I see no reason why this couldn't be either.
You're definitely not the only one that finds WP outstandingly ugly (fisher price, poor UI design, lousy repeatability and consistency). Which is a shame really, as some of the underlying concepts are quite good.
If they had actually put a good looking UI on the phone (a skin really), tidied up the inconsistencies, not foisted sodding Bing and Xbox Live everywhere you looked it would be a good phone OS (not that Apple or Google are angels on this regard either). Yes, there are crashes and odd things that happen, but as long as you get a good build quality phone then these don't happen too often so they appear to be more spurious hardware related issues than direct OS problems. There are fundamental holes in the OS functionality compared to other phone OSes, as have already been pointed out here, and unfortunately the locked down nature prevents most of them being resolved by 3rd party apps, but this is also true of some other phone OSes as well. While Android is pretty open, some things need the kernel to handle and not at the application layer and while you can install complete custom versions of Android, this is beyond most users.
Re: #1 Reason to Upgrade From XP
Alternatively we could run software that wasn't so mind-numbingly bloated and inefficient that it doesn't need 3GB of RAM.
I now have a picture in my mind of extremely heavy, electrically controlled breast implants. Thank you.
Re: It's best to target each UI
Very good and nice and simple example.
And it's exactly why there should be a clean separation between presentation and content as this simplifies this process. A bit, anyway!
Precisely. I've specced and fitted switches like these with small businesses such as design studios. They need fast communications but don't need to spend the earth on corporate carrier class switches and their maintenance contracts.
There's a big difference...
There's a big difference... between those who never go online and those that can't be bothered with it.
I know a lot of people who just don't particularly see what's in it for them as they're happy watching TV and reading glossy magazines or working in non office jobs and really don't see what the fuss is all about. More and more are getting railroaded and forced into being online as often TV or print related items read "for Ts and Cs go to our website" or just "to enter this competition, go to this specific website and sign up for junk mail" (actually, they probably don't quite say that but it's what they mean).
Maybe I'm missing something here... but why would 72 cores "allow" HDR? AFAIK that's a function of the camera sensor and its control chip and not graphics cores as such. The graphics cores if the processing or camera software is written to take advantage may make the raw image processing more efficient, but that's it.
It appears to be yet another fall out from the utter bullshit corporate (and government) fallacy of perpetual growth.
Markets always hit saturation point at some point, they will usually then shrink a little and stabilise. They will not deliver growth of 10-15% year on year for ever as this is neither feasible, realistic or even mathematically possible. It seems that the only people who seem to think that this is possible or desirable or the only stake to aim for are blinkered governments and stock traders.
Many devices don't even bother supporting the fixed, locked internal ID number as it's not a mandated part of the specification and adding it programmatically and then locking it is just a further PITA process during the manufacturing process that adds cost to very low margin devices. Even for the supposedly locked devices (such as HDDs) there are usually tools somewhere to change these IDs as they are not hard locked.
You can edit it and set it to whatever you want in a virtual environment, at least on VMWare. I don't remember seeing tools specifically for setting the IDS, but the configuration files are straight forward enough. IIRC VMWare itself uses these IDs to track copying and cloning of Virtual Machines.
Yes there were / are. It's a great idea in principle however getting lower level access to GPU hardware is frought with security minefields, particularly given just how capable and powerful modern GPUs are.
I believe the Win 7 driver model helped a bit with this, as more drivers, or more accurately their interfaces, run in user mode than at kernel level but this isn't something I'm particularly up on.
Re: Bring it on!
That's my dream too. Just because I can drive, doesn't mean that I either like it or want to do it.
Unfortunately I think such true motoring convenience is at least a couple of decades away.
Re: GPS for Dummies
I'd just be happy if the damn things gave me an indication of what direction they think I should take on the roundabout at the top of a slip road before I get to the ****ing roundabout itself.
I've made more navigational mistakes following sat navs than not. They're very useful but I also like to know where I'm going without them.
[apologies in advance for the length of this post!]
A lot of people here are asking for dumb TVs. With Sky decoding. Or Freeview. Or NetFlick. Or DVD playback. Or Media Streaming.
A truly dumb TV has a single video (and maybe audio) input. Probably an of/off switch as well. And maybe volume, brightness and contrast controls as well. Uh oh, feature creep is setting in already.
A slightly less dumb TV as a set of inputs, allowing you to either have multiple devices connected simultaneously or to give a choice of how you would like to to connect. No Scart? use HDMI instead? As soon as you get multiple inputs the TV has to start having input source selection. This is the first point that starts confusing the hell out of the average user... average as in Joe Public, not an El Reg reader who by definition is usually capable of mashing a keyboard semi-coherently.
A less dumb TV also has a TV tuner built into it. Except that this depends on the connectivity to your video source... as in over the air (generally FreeView), Satellite or Cable. These use channel numbers as a matter of historical and remote control convenience, not for the ease of use of the end user. These channel numbers are stupidly not consistent between FreeView, Satellite and Cable services and don't integrate with the Input Selection which is also a channel selector in its own way. When a user turns on a TV they often have a TV channel in mind, for example Sky One or BBC 2, they don't have "150" or "102" in mind and instead they have to either learn the specific device's numbering scheme or use what is far too often an extremely clunky or slow program or channel guide to select a channel. A program guide? Now that's yet another source of confusion as they are usually far too hard to use, inconsistent in operation and rely on short cuts on the remote control. Why does the remote control not have a "next day" button and instead the user has to learn to press the Blue button instead. Many Joe Public users just don't use the program guide or the channel listing, can't quite remember the channel numbers and instead repeatedly hit the channel up and down buttons on their remote until their desired channel eventually appears. Eventually? Yep, with digital decoding we're gone from the 1/25th of a second channel change to waiting for the first I-Frame in the MPEG stream, which on heavily compressed streams can often take a second or two.
We haven't even got to anything that would be considered a "smart" TV yet, and already we have layer upon layer of User Interface (or User eXperience) failures. The Smart TVs barely stand a chance.
As for where I'd like it to be heading...
Most users frequent no more than six channels (there's research on this somewhere). Give them a remote control with six channel buttons clearly marked with their channel preferences. This means a smart, two way remote. If the remote controls are cheap enough, supply more than one - one for the kids, one for mum, one for dad and so on. The alternative is one what can be switched between user profiles very quickly and simply. If information is stored on the remote control, back it up to the TV itself this way when a remote is broken or lost or multiple remotes are used they can be configured very quickly. Little things like this are really appreciated by users.
Kill Infra Red remote controls. They may be quite power efficient but they're one of the reasons behind appalling user interface response times on TVs and similar devices. Two way wireless communications, e-ink display and quite possibly wireless charging would be the way to go. Stick with buttons and not touch screens. The older the user, the more they appreciate and can handle button interfaces - they are far superior for limited functionality applications than the more adaptable but harder to use (and hugely more expensive when done well) touch screen interfaces.
If "smart" TV functionality must be implemented in a TV, do it using an established platform and not recreating the wheel with poor quality often underpowered components and awkward operating environments. Android is the ideal platform for this and removing the telecomms stack and associated chipset would save a chunk of the cost. It even comes with wifi management which saves another problem... In theory, iOS or even WinRT would do the job, however Android, if the components are correct, the applications are coded efficiently and unnecessary baked in applications are removed it can be quite efficient and would not have trouble rending at full TV screen resolution as similar resolutions are in place on mobiles and tablets already. Android, iOS and even WinRT would have to be tweaked to be usable without using touch input and without having a horrible pointer overlay alternative. Once tweaked though, there would be a huge market for applications that either just work on this kind of device or have been specially created for them.
Integrate the channel and input selectors into one seamless list and ditch the entire concept of channel numbers. Channels should be sorted by separate sorting text behind the scenes which will sort the channels into the order the user expects. i.e. BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four and so on. Alphabetically these would be "BBC Four, BBC One, BBC Three and BBC Two" which isn't quite so user friendly. Regional variations on the channels are an added complication, in theory they should be listed together with their parent channel, such as "BBC One North, BBC One Scotland, BBC One South" this makes for an appalling use case for the users that regardless of the interface will still frantically press Channel Up and Down buttons to select their desired channels. We'd doubtless see a proliferation of channel named "Arrdvark 1" and so on but there is no perfect solution.
If the broadcast content is the same, always select the HD option rather than the SD when presented with two otherwise channels. This should be togglable of course, but given ease of use it should be automatic and not needlessly presenting a user with two versions of BBC One is a good thing.
The point about leaving this up to companies like Apple, Microsoft or Google to research and patent the buggery out of and then stifle development and improvement just seems to prove itself. If a government were to research and do this then the results should be given out free and therefore benefitting all, not just a few corporations.
Re: A perfectly workable solution...
While HTML 5 has its problems, the majority of facebooks problems with it that I looked at were down to incompetence. At times it looked like that almost without fail they picked the most awkward or inappropriate solution every time they had to implement something, and then implemented it in a really inefficient manner.
Their website works ok with HTML (for now pretend the "mobile" version does not exist), HTML 5 is only HTML with a few extra extensions. Other than quite inefficient APIs there should have been no reason that their HTML 5 app was so bad.
Re: This is a standard tactic... @The BigYin
True. It's The Surface Windows RT devices that have the SecureBoot and the manufacturer is not permitted to allow this to be disabled and keys added and therefore boot a different OS.
If there were anybody actually producing these things then I'm sure somewhere somebody would find a way around it, but that takes market desire for these devices and manufacturers to produce them.
Re: "11-YEAR-OLD code wizard"
I was coding in Assembly by 11... but I suspect I was probably more of an exception but then so's this kid.
I'm not that AC, but I did do almost exactly this myself, just for my own curiosity. It caused a bit of a sense of humour failure in the IT department when they were given a list of usernames and passwords, some including their own staff.
I had no intention of doing anything nefarious* with these details but these days that doesn't seem to matter. They did considerably tighten up on their security before too long though and at least they understood that I wasn't going to do anything bad with them, didn't do it to intentionally make them look bad (otherwise their reaction could have been different), didn't shout about it around the Uni and even showed them what I did.
* Just had to use that word, it's probably underused.
That's a very blinkered and crazy point of view.
Libre Office is very good for the vast majority of business users. Why? The vast majority of business users use their entire Microsoft Office suite to:
* write the odd letter, maybe even mail merge
* record a few values in a spreadsheet
While there are a large number of users that use more advanced features and there are a lot of (suicidal) organisations that somehow run their entire operation on Excel Spreadsheets, their number is considerably less than the majority. The majority of business workers do not sit in finance offices juggling Excel or Word macros across multiple documents, they sit in grotty offices using Microsoft Word in place of a type writer.
I like Libre office (and Open Office prior to that), and use Microsoft Office extensively, but what I'd like even more is for Libre Office to be challenging MS Office much closer and forcing Microsoft to actually improve their product rather than just change the user interface skin every few years and somehow make the entire thing larger, slower and more bloated with every release.
The key lock in to the Microsoft Office suite is Microsoft Outlook. Unfortunately despite being awful in a huge number of ways, it's the best email and calendaring client there is.
...and there I was thinking that HTML 5 offline storage could be a good solution to reading articles offline rather than (yet another) app.
I'll admit that I haven't tried using this functionality in anger, only in noddy test environments. Apps can do smarter things though, such as fetching content in the background even when the browser is not running, but that tends to upset user's data plans.
If it's a bog standard camera (or even if it isn't) then they're probably radiation interference. Even a height of 240 miles makes quite a difference to the level of radiation that you're subjected to.
Re: 70 per cent more boys had called in about seeing porn online
This reminds of me of hearing about the son of the directors of a company I used to work for. His son was suspended from school for peddling porn. It turns out that his son was videoing the late night trailers for the soft porn cable and satellite channels, putting them all together and duplicating and selling videos of it. Given the soft nature of it all he really wasn't sure whether to be angry about it or proud because of his son's entrepreneurship.
As far as the end of the road? That's very, very dangerous - there should be a law against that kind of thing. After all there are paedophiles behind every bush and gate down the street so it must be a mercy or arrogant luck that any of the poor innocent children actually make it to the end of the road, let alone back again.
We'll ignore the fact that almost all child molestation is carried out by a close family member of course. It's the exceptional cases that make the news, and often these wind up being a close family friend or family member anyway.
- It's true, the START MENU is coming BACK to Windows 8, hiss sources
- iSPY: Apple Stores switch on iBeacon phone sniff spy system
- Pic NASA Mars tank Curiosity rolls on old WET PATCH, sighs, sniffs for life signs
- How UK air traffic control system was caught asleep on the job
- Google embiggens its fat vid pipe Chromecast with TEN new supported apps