37 posts • joined Sunday 15th April 2007 23:30 GMT
Bye, bye copper!
The preparation for the fibre is currently taking palce outside my house in East Toowoomba. At present they're replacing the inspection boxes in the ground and cleaning out the ducts (at least that's what I percieve as I walk past. Relatively uninteresting photo here: https://twitter.com/chrisreynolds/status/314309775980650496/photo/1
I believe that the NBN is exceptionally ambitious for a country such as Australia which suffers a tyranny of distance. Fibre to the home shouldn't happen in a place as spread out as Queensland but it's being done.
The way in which the process is being managed is, in my opinion, brilliant. Setting up NBN Co as a distinct entity from the incumbent Telstra should ensure equity and quality. Given that a project of this scope and scale has never been attempted before then I'm not surprised to hear of hicups like this.
My only real criticism of the NBN is the decision to include the term broadband in the title. It seems that the public equate this with YouTube, Minecraft and Facebook rather than the infrastructure project that it is.
With hindsight I would have used 'communications' or 'fibre' and marketed it on the potential to reduce costs and to have the best infrastructure in the world. Appealing to people's desire to save money and feel national pride would probably have reduced the instance of headlines shouting of 'chaos' and 'collapse'.
That's my opinion, but then I will soon be the beneficiary of cheap 100Mb/s internet for less than my current 12Mb/s ADSL2+. I might be biased.
"A year ago Huawei didn't even have a brand for its smartphones "
What about their Ideos phones? The brand was short-lived but there were at least two models, the X5 and the U8150.
The netbook was too good
My wife has a Dell Mini 9, 9" Atom-powered Windows XP Netbook. We bought it for her uni studies and it was was excellent, allowing her to carry all her studies to work, Uni and home. She used OpenOffice, Chrome and Dropbox, which the Atom processor, 1Gb RAM and 32Gb SSD coped with easily.
She could rely on the battery to last a few hours which meant she could leave the charger at home when going to work or Uni and thus is could fit in her handbag. The clamshell design meant no need for cases, stands, keyboards or other faffy paraphernalia.
At home she'd plug it into a full-size keyboard, monitor and mouse using USB and VGA cables: no need for extra investment in connectors.
When it dies, she'll want another cheap 9" Windows laptop to replace it. She's tried by 10" Asus Transformer Prime, but doesn't like the limitations of the Android (or iOS) operating system and finds the 10" form factor just too big to fit into her handbag.
The current generation of 10" Windows tablets are pretty pricey too as people chase the premium end of the market and try to compete with the iPad.
All-in-all, I suspect that somebody out there makes something that will fit the bill, but in short I agree with the sentiments of the article's author and find that I too lament the fall of the netbook.
I recall and article...
...in Wired magazine some months ago which said that it was easier to extract hydrogen from urea than from pure water. I can't remember the article saying why this was, but David Given's earlier post hints at what might be the answer.
World+Dog can't buy these yet
With the high price and the limited availability of chomebooks (and now chromeboxes) it seems little wonder that people are choosing tablets and laptops over these.
Chromebooks/boxes aren't yet available here in Australia so I can't comment on the quality of the product, however the only person I know who has bought one loves it. I have an Asus Transformer TF101 which would be my ideal machine if the keyboard wasn't utter crap and it didn't use a proprietary power connector.
I only stick with the iPod for the clickwheel
We've had various iPods over the years and recently got our first Touch. It's a great little computer but a compromised music player. In the car or on the move I can use the clickwheel without needing to look at a screen.
Since I've got an Android phone, I don't need the extra functions of a Touch and the current Nano is godawful to use. I'm with the 'buying a Classic the moment the clickwheel's axed' brigade. Either that or hope that Sony or Microsoft bring a good dedicated media player that I can switch to.
Close, but not close enough.
iPad only? *groans*
TVs increasingly have integrated access to streaming services like Bigpong Movies, ABC iView and YouTube. When I watch TV, I don't want to have to buy an iPad and watch on a tiny 9" screen or pay a premium to buy a cable to connect the aforementioned fondleslab to my TV.
If I could watch the BBC on my TV using my TV remote then $10 would be a bargain.
Oh, and I expect Top Gear to be available in HD with 'the news'. Channel 9 hacks the bejesus out of it and makes it near unwatchable, plus they only offer SD.
Flash ain't the only plug-in
Skype and corporate phone systems use plug-ins to make calling from web browsers easier. Various ActiveX controls allow corporate apps to run in the browser.My OneNote plug-in makes it easy to gather online content and share with colleagues.
It'd be nice if both could run on the same machine. Start with the basic flavour to make things fast and smooth, but pass the session to the full-on version when a plug-in is required (or if the user requests).
I want my cake and I want to eat it.
So the Mac is hit by a trojan at the same time as they're launching an app store eh? Whilst I don't think for one minute that they had anything to do with its inception, I wouldn't be suprised if they tackle it by promoting the use of their app store and spinning any outside purchases as risky, perhaps even warranty-voiding?
It's not necessarily a bad thing but it doesn't bode well for anyone wanting to make software that Apple doesn't want to (re)sell.
I'd argue that...
Windows XP is nearly 10 years old. Are you running Redhat 7 or Debian 3? I'm guessing not, and so would assume your comparison is unfair.
At work I manage a thousand or so client systems plus about 30 servers. My monthly reports show uptime and reliability metrics for all systems, and there's simply no evidence in them that Windows systems are less reliable than the Macs or Linux systems (mostly servers).
The biggest gripe that my users had about the MS systems was the way systems needed to be restarted after a patch. Solution: Wake-on-LAN at midnight, deploy patch then shutdown.
I support open-source in principle, but the current offering from Microsoft is good quality and since upgrading to 7 I find I rarely boot into Linux these days.
I'd argue with Australia's housing affordability. Having moved to Queensland from the UK about 5 years ago I found that I could afford a lot more house and land for the money. The downside was a reduction in wage and higher mortgage rates. After one house move we're living in a nice little house close to work and schools. Whilst we look at moving back to the UK from time to time, we would have to sacrifice things like off-street parking and living space.
Friends' kids are of the age that they're looking to buy their first house. In many cases they want to buy a (detached) house in a good suburb with 3+ bedroom, media room, loungeroom and family room and some land and then cite 'housing unaffordability' as either the reason that it's beyond their reach or the reason they have to sell when the mortgage rates go up or one of them loses their job.
I look at my wife's first house (she's from the town we live in) and it was a little cottage in need of repair in a lower-class but respectable suburb. Suggest to the aforementioned house-buyers that they should look at that end of the market and they turn their noses up. Tell them how much my little sister has just spent on her first house (saving for about 10 years and the bank insist on a maximum 70% mortgage) and they stand agog... before returning to whinging.
Sure, places in Sydney and Melbourne are expensive, but barely more than London, Paris or New York.
In short, I find that most of the people who complain about the affordability of housing in Queensland are not prepared to compromise.
Good time to refresh the enterprise
I've got about 1500 desktops and notebooks on fleet and am 80% through migration from XP to 7. Now is a great time to refresh the enterprise. Office 2003's ribbon was off-putting for many and would have slowed the business. Vista was buggy and offered no real advantage over XP. Now people have gained familiarity with the ribbon so migration to 2010 is easier and 7 is a good operating system.
As one part of a far larger organization, the cost of Windows licensing is offset by the availability of certified Windows support.
Our network policies give us a good level of security and there is little reason why I'd consider a move to Linux or any other platform.
He didn't say anything about quality. He said 'relevant'. I used to be a coder, then I rose through the ranks to run corporate websites. Now I've moved to the ICT Services side of the camp and I've never considered the quality of the browser to impact its relevance to me as a professional. Before we end up quoting Pirsig on quality, I would consider either IE9 or Google to be the qualty product. As much as I like the concept of Opera, it's never stuck and when I just want to get the job done, Microsoft and Google make the browsers for me.
I came from Fortune-500 land and the majority stuck with the browsers that work. There's a lot of people who like Windows 7 and IE9 works very well with it. Since it appeared on Windows Update the other day, I've been recommending that people install. Since I weeded IE6 out of my employer's systems, the need for Chrome, Firefox et. al. has decreased. Next month we get IE8 as a part of an org-wide Win7 rollout and once that's stable I'm taking us to IE9. I won't be allowing any in-house apps that code for brower-specific features. There lies dragons.
DRM can be good thing
One of my most prized possessions is my bookshelf. It takes up an entire wall and is as much a self-portrait as any painting I could muster. I love lending books to friends, and quite often lose track of them, never to be seen again. I could do as some do and put my name on the inside cover, but don't always have the presence of mind to do so.
Anyhow, DRM has the potential not only to benefit the rights of the publisher but also the rights of the consumer. What if I could buy a cheap eBook with DRM locked down that prevents me lending it to others. Now, what if I could buy a slightly more expensive version that allows me to lend it to others. Going on from that, what if I could charge people for borrowing my books? Amazon surely has the potential to organise such a marketplace and, by charging a percentage, profit from it.
Public Libraries could negotiate special deals with publishers or resellers such as Amazon to pay not for the book but for the number of times it's borrowed. No more having to shell out for books that nobody borrows.
Whilst eBooks would surely be most efficiently distributed online, there will still be a need for public libraries to provide ICT equipment (such as the eBook readers themselves) and to instead become centres of local learning and knowledge.
And even when this utopia arrives, I will retain my bookshelf because there is something about a bookshelf that I will always like. I was more than happy to get rid of my shelf of CDs and VHS, but the shelf of well-thumbed Lonely Planet guides filled with photos and postcards of places we've visited are a rich reminder of travels past. The various signed copies (including a very special copy of Bear Grylls' Facing Up which includes an extra hand-written note noting the time he met my wife on Everest) and the OS maps that have worn thin through being folded and re-folded on various expeditions over the years are all irreplaceable and whilst I can access digital versions of all of them, the dead-tree versions contain sentiment that cannot be replaced.
Bring on DRM! Long live the paper book!
Streetview is a great tool. I'm a British citizen living in Australia and it's proving an invaluable tool for checking out a location before visiting. Yesterday I had to go to Brisbane to pick up an eBay purchase so took a look at each junction prior to travelling to familiarise myself with each turn... something I've done on many occasions and which has caused me to ditch my nagging Tom-Tom.
The main way I can see privacy laws being enacted is by virtue of the Googlecams being far higher than any person could hope to stand. Perhaps if the cams were to be positioned <2m off the ground there would be fewer concerns.
Once you've lived with Streetview, you really don't want to go back.
Efficiency done, now stop faffing and figure the enterprise space
Dell have trimmed their excesses back to the bone. They've got skilled employees in cheap locations and they've turned back from the 'cheap at all costs' route that led them to selling nasty kit a few years back.
There's not much further they can go with improved efficiency and people don't like Dell kit that's cheap 'n' nasty like Acer so they have to drive harder and harder into the enterprise space.
They have always done good corporate gear. PowerEdge servers, Latitude notebooks and OptiPlex desktops are a great starting point.
...and in Australia you get over $5000 for each one you bring into this world.
But that's off-topic. Previous commenters have pretty much summed things up, but I'll toss one more thing in by way of adding my support.
Ways around this firewall will be passed around the playground at school. The ones left clueless will be the responsible, older, middle-class folk who get told that the (probably legal) site they're viewing has been blocked and will be left fretting that black helicopters will soon circle over their house and take their computers away for examination.
Too crippled for me
Echoing many other posters, the lack of Flash or Multitasking makes this a miss for me. Wife is doing a Masters and flips between online resources and her word processor when doing coursework. If this can't multi-task then she'll just stick with her Dell Mini 9 and iPod Mini.
I'd want this for casual web surfing (amongst other things) and the lack of Flash means that I can't "see web pages as they were meant to be seen" (to quote apple.com.)
Finally (and this is not a complaint, just an honest reason why I'd not go for it yet) its form-factor means it won't fit into my iPod docks. My iPod sits in my car's glovebox broadcasting to the stereo and at home it sits in my Sounddock. I'd hope there'll be an accessory to cope with this.
So I'll stick with my laptop, iPod Nano and paper book for now. Fix Flash and Multi-tasking and I'll consider this.
This is the bit I wanted to hear...
"Ubuntu also plans to offer commercial software through Software Center..."
What Linux has failed to offer so far is premium software. Adobe's CSx suite is a prime example. One of Ubuntu's core aims is to promote free software, but I firmly believe that they must open the doors to closed-source to encourage mainstream acceptance.
If they can get MS Office and iTunes available through their app store, they'll be the dominant OS.
So long as you set your audiobooks as audiobooks in iTunes, the iPod will keep your place, even if you go and listen to something else in the meantime. At least it does on my old 3rd Gen iPod Nano, so I'd expect it to on the latest.
I've played with a few other media players but none come close to the featureset of the Touch which, most importantly, passes the wife/parent test of being instantly usable by someone for whom the Windows start button can pose problems.
The newly sixtyfourgigabytised Touch looks like outstanding value for money as an alternative to a netbook PC.
I'm sure this board will at some point descend into the Apple vs Windows vs the world camp, but having tried a few alternatives, I reckon the Apple iPod Nano/Touch combined with iTunes on an inexpensive Windows machine is hard to beat for all round everyday usability.
I used to urge people to use public transport and cycle, but four years ago my first child arrived. Then we moved to Australia.
Where we live, the towns are sprawling, the public transport is practically non-existant and the weather is usually too hot to encourage you out of an air-conditioned box. (For the record, we may move back to Blighty once the economy shows signs of picking up, but that's a tangent).
In places like Australia and (I assume) parts of the USA, families need cars to get stuff done.
I agree that there's far better cars that these hybrids -- the issue of the pollutants in the batteries outweighs their fuel economy for me.
However, you can't tell people to get out of their cars because some societies have been built up around them. Realistically, we'll have fuel cells in Australia before people are prepared to forego their cars.
@winkypop & Aussie Drink Driving
The SSV is a bit average. What you really want is a Maloo:
But seriously, the attitude to drink driving in Australia (I moved from Berkshire to Queensland a few years ago) is shocking. In many circles, it's socially acceptable to drink and drive. If you don't get caught it's something to boast about to your mates.
I tried finding some stats to back up my gut feel, but have run out of time. This is the most likely place to go:
Either way, I'd love to know how to change society to see the danger in drink driving.
@AC: retraining as an electrician and heading downunder may not provide a short-term fix. Living in Queensland, the headlines are full of stories of tradespeople being laid off as the boom times turn to recession. Before you go to the massive expense of moving to the other side of the world, make sure you have a job to come to. The boom times are over in Australia.
In short, retraining might seem like a way out of the problem but make sure that you are going into an area that has real potential. At the time being, I'd say there's few professions that are secure.
I've given up IT work and swapped places with my wife. She's a full-time, highly qualified nurse. Her career is more assured than mine. I now look after the kids full time. It's not that much different to working in IT some of the time :)
Once the recession is over (and it will end) my kids should be in school and I'll take a fresh look at where people are hiring before retraining in whatever works.
Skype's the killer app for me -- want to get one for the kids but I want it to be as simple for them to see grandma and grandpa in back in Britain without the rigmorale of activating the camera each time.
US Prices tend to exclude taxes whist UK (consumer) prices must include all taxes and delivery costs by law.
If US tax rates were the same as those in the UK (17.5%) then the system cost would be £746. Dell also charge £50 for delivery, so although the US system is definitely cheaper, the price differential is less than the quoted prices suggest.
£50 difference is still pretty hefty though.
I use it and see a future for it...
I moved abroad a couple of years back and use Facebook to keep in touch with family and friends abroad.
I most use it for Scrabulous, Battleships and the photo sharing. I also like the way it formats messages -- long conversations are easier to track than emails.
I don't install apps that have no value to me. I decline invites from people I meet daily or those I really don't want to get back in touch with. I aim to keep my friends list as small as possible.
I can't give an expert opinion on how Facebook.com will fare, but I reckon MS will consider licensing it to corporations and large orgs for internal use.
The ability to create apps would be great for corporations, especially if MS could make it easy to port .NET apps over to FB with minimal change.
As other posters have said, this is still early days for these apps. I don't think social networking is dead in the water.
Solid as mountain. Not a load of bull?
Bit of a tangent here...
XP's codename was Whistler. Win7's codename is Blackcomb. Whistler and Blackcomb are mountains that sit right next to each other (so close in fact that there's a gondola being built between them).
With a strong link between the codenames, perhaps win 7 will be more closely related to XP than to Vista, which was named after a bull.
Am I reading too far between the lines here? In my experience, many project managers like to keep a link between their project names so I'd hope that there's something in the naming convention. I like XP and haven't yet seen the need to upgrade.
Maybe Airlines could make things fair by forcing 2m tall blokes like me to endure long-haul flights sat next to slim-but-not-too-tall-yet-quite-attractive young ladies (preferably wearing lightweight clothing, to save fuel of course)?
But seriously, it's a natural urge to dislike paying taxes and then to see those taxes being spent not on something that will benefit you, but one something that could have been avoided if the person in question had better judgement or more self control. It's not just clinically obese people. Smokers Long-term unemployed, benefit cheats, vandals, extreme sports enthusiasts (who knowingly put themselves in danger knowing that our taxes have paid for a helicopter than can winch them off a mountain and into a hospital where they can receive treatment for free).
Thing is, once we start charging obese people (and yes, I know that this article states that the patients themselves will not have to pay, but there are strong arguments above for the alternative to be the case) for these services we set a precedent that will end up with us being charged extra for all sorts of things.
You live 10 miles from the hospital? Then the ambulance will charge you twice as much as the person who lives 5 miles away.
You have 6 kids instead of the average 2? Well the fire and rescue team will get the first two for free and will charge thereafter.
Ridiculous, but the underlying sentiment is similar.
I'll uninstall for now...
I'm going to uninstall Safari for now. I'm not convinced by their speed claims and I find the interface to be less usable than IE7.
I didn't like the IE7 beta much either, but the final release is great. I prefer it's approach to tabbed browsing over Firefox's (new tabs open next to parent tab, new tab button is next to existing tabs, thumbnail preview of tabs).
I also like the way IE7 makes it easy to enlarge entire pages, not just the fonts.
I find Firefox's plug-ins are great for web development, especially Firebug. I also prefer the way it handles RSS over IE7.
Safari's tabs are clunky by comparison, with no button available to create a new tab. I couldn't find a way to zoom into the page either. I like to have menus and status bars visible too, and once they're turned on they take up a lot of screen space with no way to drag them onto a single level.
So what's to like? The way the address bar turns blue as the page loads is nice. The standard look (without the menus and status bar visible) is pretty cool too.
When you've finished customising the toolbar, it disappears with a nice visual effect.
Trouble is, none of this is enough for me to justify running a third browser. Sorry Apple. I think I'll wait until you release OSX for PCs before committing to Safari.
If the Dell XPS were a Mac...
I'm surprised that the Dell XPS M2010 gets only 80% in this review. I daresay that if Apple had released this genre-bending machine with those specs at that price then it'd get a few more percent.
What's not been mentioned is the Wii-like motion sensitive remote control that can steer the mouse around the screen with just a flick of your wrist.
Come on, Reg! It's better than 80%. It's not just a pretty case. Don't let the Dell badge get in the way of such an awesome bit of kit!!!
Don't knock Dell's African business
Dell's EMEA Distributor Business is a significant part of its EMEA operation.
Dell sells through distributors in the following African countries:
Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, RDC, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Individually, these markets may not be large enough for Dell to deal direct in, but together they make a reasonable contribution to Dell's bottom line.
Don't forget that the A of EMEA stands for Africa. It may be home to abject poverty and warfare, but it's also a market that Dell operate in and which MSD has every right to mention.
Sad but potentially true
When the PSP arrived I thought that I had to get one. I'd seen a friend's and it was great. It had exclusive Grand Theft Auto titles and Gran Turismo was on the horizon. It would be the perfect companion on my daily commute.
But. Gran Turismo still isn't released. Grand Theft Auto was hard to control on the tiny joystick and the load times were way too long.
For me, the PSP's games weren't as good as the PS2's.
And I have to agree that it's looking like the same will happen for the PS3. Sure it's graphically superior, but the titles and teh controllers don't seem to be up to the standard of the PS2's.
I played Motorstorm the other day. The accelerator is one of the shoulder buttons similar to the XBox. The graphics were probably far superior to those of my PS2, but the gameplay was woeful and although I tried hard to like it, I came away feeling disapointed. The game felt more like an XBox title.
Gran Turismo HD seems to be a long way off and GTA4 will be released on the XBox at the same time as on the PS3. The PS3 has some amazing multimedia capabilities, but will it integrate with others? My iPod works with my Mac and my PC. The XBox 360 can function as a Media Center extender allowing me to browse videos, photos, music and more from my sofa.
I want the PS3 to succeed, but Microsoft seem to have a lot of good XBox 360 games coming up including a number of exclusives. Combined with proven media capabilities, my head says to spend less money on the more capable system.
I'll stick with my PS2 for now. Once GTA4 and GT HD are released I'll consider upgrading.
The thorn in both their sides though is the Wii. Wii Sports is great fun and SSX seems to have been given new life thanks to the nunchuck controller.
The PS3 is impressive, but jeez do Sony have to pull something out of the bag if they want to replicate the success of the PS2.
- Analysis BlackBerry Messenger unleashed: Look out Twitter and Facebook
- Comment Mobile tech destroys the case for the HS2 £multi-beellion train set
- Nine-year-old Opportunity Mars rover sets NASA distance record
- IT bloke publishes comprehensive maps of CALL CENTRE menu HELL
- Things that cost the same as coffee with Tim Cook - and are WAY more fun