* Posts by Michael Jennings

243 posts • joined 14 Aug 2008

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EU vetoes O2 and Three merger: Hutchison mulls legal challenge

Michael Jennings

Re: Dam

T-Mobile once belonged to Mercury/C&W (mostly). Then was sold to Deutsche Telecom.

Orange once belonged to Hutchison. Then was sold to Mannesman. Then was sold to France Telecom.

Freeserve once belonged to Dixons. Then was spun off as an independent company. Then got bought by France Telecom and became Wanadoo. Then become Orange Broadband and ultimately EE broadband.

Orange was then merged with T-Mobile to become Everything Everywhere and then EE.

Now the whole thing has been bought by BT. At this point the resulting entity has bits of the corporate cultures of all of the above, seemingly contantly at war with one another.

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Motorola-powered Mac from 1989 used to write smartphone apps

Michael Jennings

The SE/30 was a beast

I remember just how screamingly fast the SE/30 was considered when it came out. Essentially it was the guts of the much bigger and more powerful (and more expensive) Mac IIx fitted into the classic Mac form factor.

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Libertarian hero: 'Satoshi Nakamoto', government funds, the NSA and the DHS

Michael Jennings

"Chiba City", described that way and part of greater Tokyo, is a frequent location in William Gibson's Neuromancer, sequels, and connected short stories. "The Sprawl" is another frequent location in these same writings, but is a location in North America - also referred to as the "Boston Atlanta Metropolitan Axis". So "The Sprawl, Chiba City, Japan", is clearly a William Gibson reference, but an oddly anachronistic one. "Tessier-Ashpool" is a fictional Swiss-Australian family owned corporation in the same set of books, so the Gibson references are clearly fairly deliberate.

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European Commission prepares antitrust probe for O2/Hutchison deal

Michael Jennings

Vodafone Australia was always awful.

>Customer service teams were overrun and Vodafone Australia became a byword for poor service.

To be fair, Vodafone Australia was a buzzword for poor service already, and had been pretty much forever before that.

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Chaos at TalkTalk: Data was 'secure', not all encrypted, we took site down, were DDoSed

Michael Jennings

Carphone and Talktalk: the same weakness?

Okay, a few months ago there was a breach at Carphone Warehouse (okay, Dixons Carphone), and my personal data was compromised. Now there is this one at TalkTalk, and my personal data has been compromised again.

CPW and Talktalk are separate companies, but they used to be the same company and one was spun off the other. I suspect they use a lot of the same systems, and share a lot of common code for their customer systems and/or websites. (To add to the complications, both companies are the product of a lot of mergers / acquisitions, so there are probably lots of barely compatible things lashed together as well).

I wonder if it is possible that both data breaches came from exploiting the same/similar weaknesses. It wouldn't surprise me at all if they did.

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Carphone Warehouse coughs to MONSTER data breach – 2.4 MEELLION Brits at risk

Michael Jennings

Re: Why 90,000 customers out of 2.5 million?

When you sign up for a contract, they usually ask for your bank account details for the direct debit for your monthly payment, and they also ask for your credit card details. If there is any up-front charge, they normally charge this to a credit card. If there isn't, they normally make a tiny charge (1p, sometimes) to the credit card as a form of identity verification. (Credit card companies don't like this practice, but it still happens fairly often).

Carphone Warehouse have bought many other businesses over the years. This includes a number of web based mobile phone dealers - e2save, mobiles.co.uk and onestopphoneshop. They have typically kept these brands alive as separate brands. If you go to their websites, it is not obvious that they are Carphone Warehouse unless you read the small print (although if you actually buy a contract from them, they then become open about it after you have signed up). The prices on these websites are usually better than those on Carphone's own branded website or in their store, so I have bought phone contracts that way. I haven't yet received an e-mail from them telling me that they have lost my data, but maybe I will.

What it seems is that Carphone have not fully (or possibly at all) integrated their customer records from all the businesses that they have bought. Probably their systems are a horrible ad-hoc mess of incompatible systems nastily stitched together. Security practices are probably inconsistent and of varying quality. They have therefore had some customer records compromised and not others, and they took three days figuring out precisely which.

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Michael Jennings

I've done business with this bit of CPW. They are cheap. I have received customer service and sales calls from them on occasion, though, in which they have called me, have attempted to sell me an upgrade, I have said yes, and then they have asked me for my address, date of birth, mother's maiden name etc in order that I identify myself. I have refused, on the basis that I don't give personal information to people who have called me, although I might when I have called them. They have then been mystified as to why the two cases might be different. This is not inspiring.

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BREAKING NEWS: Apple makes money

Michael Jennings

It's about expectations

Before a profit announcement, there are expectations amongst market participants as to what the results are going to be. These are a consequence of profit guidance from Apple, leaks, analysis, and rumours about the likely results. The price before the announcement reflects these expectations. If the actual results are better than the expectations, the price goes up. If they are worse, it goes down. Such movements have little to do objectively with whether the company is doing well or badly, but they just reflect the accuracy of the expectations.

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Apple Watch is such a flop it's the world's top-selling wearable

Michael Jennings

Re: Who actually wears a watch anymore? And why?

I think the world consists of people who don't wear a watch, and cannot conceive that anyone else would, and people who do wear a watch, and cannot conceive that anyone else wouldn't, actually.

I think techies tend more to be the second category (I haven't worn a watch in decades), but that smart watches are more easy to sell to the second category. Which means they are possibly easier to sell to non-techies. However, techies are more likely to be early adopters,, making it an interesting challenge.

I have several times heard people say that a watch is an easier sell than Google Glass or other smart glasses, because people are used to wearing something on their wrist all the time, but smart glasses are something extra to wear. I find this a little strange - I don't wear a watch but I do wear glasses - but I have to believe that there are a lot of people like that.

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iPod dead? Nope, says Apple: New Touch has iPhone 6 brains

Michael Jennings

Well, there is a 128Gb option, whereas there was a 64Gb maximum for the old one. So there is more storage if you are willing to pay for it.

People like to play games on these things: the A8 means it will run all the latest ones, whereas the A5 in the old model is not going to be up to running a lot of things.

Software is what this upgrade is all about really. The old iPod touch was getting to the point where it was hard work for Apple to keep supporting it with current software, and it wasn't going to provide good performance for third party apps. Apple either had to discontinue it or update it. Having decided to update, they gave it a good upgrade, so they can continue to sell it for another three years without having to think about it much.

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Toothless Ofcom: C'mon consumers, show your teeth on broadband speeds

Michael Jennings

Re: You won't have the power to walk away

Always pay the invoices. That way they can't ruin your credit record or anything like that. Once you have done that, make a claim against them in a small claims court to get the money - you can do it easily enough online and it takes 10 minutes. At this point, the issue has been transferred from the billing department to the legal department. The job of the legal department is to make things go away, and if they are even slightly competent you will get a call fairly shortly afterwards from someone who will sort it out for you.

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Scientists love MacBooks (true) – but what about you?

Michael Jennings

Re: That Cisco policy

I think it is more the GPU, in this case. Apple decided in 2008 that the Intel graphics on its lower-end machines were not good enough, and as a consequence they switched their entire product line to nVidia graphics in 2008-9. They didn't make any machines at all that used only Intel graphics until 2011, by which time Intel had rather upped their game. OS-X 10.11 (and 10.10, and 10.9) support any machine released after that switch to nVidia graphics, and any machine from about 2007 that had discrete graphics rather than integrated Intel graphics.

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Michael Jennings

Re: That Cisco policy

I have a 2007 Macbook Pro that is presently running 10.10 Yosemite and which Apple have just announced will run 10.11 El Capitan. There are one or two machines that are a bit newer than that which are not supported, but every computer Apple has released since 2009 will support the latest OS for at least another year. This is the third new OS release from Apple that has not dropped support for any hardware at all compared to the previous release. Apple has not always been good in this department, but they have really raised their game in this respect recently.

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One USB plug to rule them all? That's sensible, but no...

Michael Jennings

Reminds me a little of the old Scart cable/plug, for connecting televisions to other devices. The same connector was capable of composite video, component video, and RGB. Having (say) an RGB capable DVD player connected to an RGB capable TV using composite video was extremely common, due to people plugging in the cable, saying "it works" and then not realising that they could improve the picture quality considerably by changing a setting in the on-screen menus. I hope USB-C is going to be a little smarter than this, but I am not sure I would completely bet on it.

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What an eyeful: Apple's cut price 27in iMac with Retina Display

Michael Jennings

Re: 5K?

The television industry has traditionally quoted the number of lines (480p, 720p, 1080i) etc.

The film industry (or at least, the associated FX business) has traditionally quoted the number of columns, rounded to the nearest thousand (2k, 4k, etc).

For some reason the TV and computer industries have been switching to the convention of the film industry in recent times. Possibly because editing movies is one of the more important applications of screens like this, but mainly I suspect because the numbers are bigger this way and it sounds more impressive.

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Why are all the visual special effects studios going bust?

Michael Jennings

Nobody knows anything

William Goldman - author of The Princess Bride and screenwriter of many famous movies including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and All the President's Men - not William Golding (author of Lord of the Flies and winner of the Nobel Prize for literature). He said it grammatically correctly, too, in his 1983 book "Adventures in the Screen Trade".`

I think you could argue that there are no stars who can open a movie on 3000 screens any more. Everything is franchises and sequels these days. And occasional hits that come from left field, yes.

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Apple MacBook 2015: Twelve inches of slim and shiny fanboi joy

Michael Jennings

At least USB-C does not lock you in to Apple.

The one annoying thing about Magsafe is that Apple ruthlessly protects it, so if you want another charger there are no discount ones. The good thing about USB-C is that it is not an Apple only standard, so although Apple's adaptors and chargers are expensive, there is nothing stopping you buying cheaper products from other manufacturers. Or at least there won't be once those products start shipping.

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Michael Jennings

Re: It's all wrong

Nope, it doesn't. Once there have been two or three generations more generations of CPU from Intel and you can get a bit more CPU power into the platform, though, it will be quite nice. The original Macbook Air in 2008 was also ludicrously underpowered, but by 2011 it was quite useful, and it's a pretty mainstream laptop in terms of CPU and GPU power these days. (It had more ports, too). So I might be looking at getting one of these in 2017 or 2018.

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Motorola's 5-incher finds the G-spot: Moto G 4G budget Android smartie

Michael Jennings

Motorola should have updated the SoC

There's also a Brazilian dual-SIM version of this - it comes with 16Gb storage. It looks essentially the same as the Chinese version, except for support for different frequencies.

I have the 3G dual-SIM second generation version. It was great when it was on Android 4.4.4, but it is rather struggling on 5.0.2. Also, 8Gb isn't really enough storage. (Yes, I have a 32Gb SD card in it, but the internal storage keeps filling up just the same). The cameras are not especially great, but I think that is forgivable at this price point.

I think Motorola might have made a better call if they had ditched the 8Gb options for the 2nd generation and only offered 16Gb, and also if they had provided some upgrade to the SoC for the second generation. That they did this for the Moto E but not the G, and the 4G variant of the E has a more powerful SoC than the G is very strange.

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How much did T-Mobile US make from that failed AT&T buyout? How about $7.7bn

Michael Jennings

Re: And now we know ...

Well, they still have the spectrum, so they haven't turned those gains into cash.

The spectrum has definitely improved their network, though

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A gold MacBook with just ONE USB port? Apple, you're DRUNK

Michael Jennings

Re: 1 USB port? Seriously?

Mostly, they are going to be recording these videos and pictures on an iPhone, and Apple then wants them to upload them to iCloud.

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Michael Jennings

Re: 1 USB port? Seriously?

I take a lot of photos on a proper camera that uses full size SD cards. Most people who are serious about photography do. (Newer cameras are often wireless capable, to be fair). The retina display on this laptop makes it a pretty nice computer for photographic purposes, but getting the photos from my camera is going to involve plugging an adaptor from USB-C to regular USB into the computer, then plugging a USB card reader into that, and then plugging an SD card into that. This is going to be a pain, and lots of things might break.

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Then there were 3: Another UK mobile network borged ...

Michael Jennings

Re: Range v Capacity

This is why you want a bit of both. Assuming the mergers go through, O2/Three are going to be strong on low frequencies but weak on high, whereas EE/BT are going to be weak on low frequencies but strong on high. Only Vodafone is going to have a good balance. This may be due to the company having grown fairly organically rather than being a product of mad mergers, and due to being a company where the engineers are listened to by managements. (There are lots of other things wrong with Vodafone, but they have this relatively right).

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Michael Jennings

Re: An error

I meant "Three presently owns 30MHz (2x15MHz) at 1800MHz". Muphry strikes again.

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Michael Jennings

An error

I think there is an error in the second table. Three presently owns 20MHz (2x15MHz) at 1800MHz, and O2 owns 12MHz (2x6MHz). That's a total of 42MHz, while it has just been shown as 12MHz in the table.

In addition to that, there were TDD spectrum allocations at 1900MHz (band 39) that were part of the 3G auction in 2000. These have never been used, but I suspect that the operators still have them. They are not mentioned in the table, though. EE have 10MHz, O2 have 5MHz, and 3 have 5MHz. (Vodafone doesn't have any). These could conceivably be used for TD-LTE, although I have no idea if anyone is considering it.

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Telefónica to offload O2 to Three daddy Hutchison for £10.25bn

Michael Jennings

Re: Possible problems

Three and O2s spectrum holdings fit together pretty well, I think. They are presently third and fourth in terms of spectrum holdings, with Three having more 3G and 4G spectrum than O2, and O2 having a 2G holding at 900MHz that Three lacks. Merge them together and they will have a (very slightly) larger holding than Vodafone and a much smaller one than EE. I can't see any competition issues with the spectrum holdings. The network share agreements might take a little time to untangle, but I am sure this can be done. The regulator may be involved, or might not. A similar untangling was necessary after the T-Mobile/Orange merger, but they managed it.

There may be spectrum issues with the EE/BT merger, though. EE has a lot more spectrum than any other network, and BT has an additional holding at 2600MHz that they bought in the 4G auction and aren't using. It is likely that divestiture of this holding (or some of EEs other spectrum somewhere) will be a requirement if the BT/EE merger is going to be permitted. In this case it will be interesting to see who ends up with it. Without an O2/Three merger one would expect it would likely end up with O2, who are at present quite short of 4G spectrum. With an O2/Three merger, it's harder to tell.

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Cheer up UK mobile grumblers. It's about to get even pricier

Michael Jennings

Re: Other way round, I think,

>FWIW the European Commission was forced to act because they discovered evidence

>of illegal collusion between operators over roaming.

I'm not disputing any of this. To it I would add that the way GSM roaming was initially set up - itself a regulatory matter, although one in which the regulators probably just rubber stamped what the operators and equipment manufacturers presented them with - positively encouraged this kind of collusion. Something clearly had to change, and the operators deserved to have someone crack down on them, but I don't think what we got - regulatory price fixing - was the right way for things to change.

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Michael Jennings

Other way round, I think,

>Which meant low income were subsidising EU travellers with expense accounts ...

>which is hardly a progressive move.

I think the situation was more that EU travellers with expense accounts had previously been subsidising low income mobile users, and the impact of the regulation of roaming charges reduced the level of these subsidies, honestly. Margins on roaming were (and in the case of non-EU roaming, still are) huge, and mobile operators were using these to subsidise their very competitive, high-capex, low margin domestic businesses. Various decisions - both regulatory and operator led - caused the industry to evolve with this structure, but I don't think the result was either healthy or sustainable. For one thing, it discouraged the large number of travellers who are paying their own phone bills and who do not have expense accounts from using mobile services at all, even though the infrastructure is there, the service was likely to be useful to them, and the price they would be willing to pay is considerably more than the marginal cost to operators of providing for it. The operators were making so much money from travellers with expense accounts that they were willing to forgo this business, but the trouble was that the regulatory structure prevented anyone else from bidding for it.

Ms Kroes' solution - which led to regulators setting prices, basically - was a bad one, but it was an attempt to address a real problem. Good solutions would have instead involved networks being able to bid on price for incoming roaming customers. You travel to Germany and receive a text from each German operator stating the price of roaming to them. You then reply with another text choosing an operator, and you are charged the rates of that operator. Something like that. Possibly you also have the ability to nominate the choice on a website or app before you travel. (This still leaves the issue of what exactly your local operator charges for forwarding your calls when you are away and for billing you later, but this is a smaller issue to resolve).

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Hong Kong mogul mulls MULTI-BEELLION POUND bid for O2 – report

Michael Jennings

Re: It's Complicated

Well, no. It's one of the biggest industries in the world. All industries tend to end up being by a small clubs of people, however.

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Sky: We're no longer calling ourselves British. Yep. And Broadcasting can do one, too

Michael Jennings

Re: Once upon a time ...

It's a very rare (possibly nonexistent) "merger" that isn't really one company taking over another.

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Michael Jennings

Re: Once upon a time ...

One of the basic rules of company mergers is that when a series of mergers occur and the company name is constructed by combining the names of the parties that merged, then *eventually* the company name will revert to that of the company that was dominant in all this. Hence "Total Elf Fina" reverting to "Total", "Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Discover" (the comma in that one was a work of genius) reverting to "Morgan Stanley", "Maersk Sealand" merging with "P&O Nedlloyd" to form "Maersk", and "British Sky Broadcasting" merging with various other companies to form "Sky".

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BBC clamps down on ILLICIT iPlayer watchers

Michael Jennings

Re: illicit viewers?

I have a Philips Blu-Ray player that adds "Smart TV" functionality to my (older and not very smart) TV. Just about the most useful function of this player was that it ran an iPlayer app. However, a month or two back it stopped working and I started receiving "iPlayer is not supported by your device" errors instead. This is. well, annoying, as I now need to find another way to stream iPlayer to my TV.

Is the explanation given in this article why it no longer works?

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Pixel mania: Apple 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display

Michael Jennings

Re: Bad Apple

The reason I don’t really like all-in-ones like the iMac is that screens are the longest lasting part of a PC for me. I tend to use a multi-screen setup with my newest monitor as the primary monitor, the next oldest as a second monitor, and the third oldest as a third monitor (if the graphics hardware allows it). I don’t want to throw a perfectly good monitor away every time I buy a new PC. Target monitor mode at least partly alleviates this (particularly when an iMac costs about the same as an equivalent screen on its own - this is not the first time this has happened) and the lack of it is a deal-killer for me.

I’m not into conspiracy theories as to why Apple has disallowed it - the explanation is that the present version of Thunderbolt can’t handle the bandwidth. I am sure the next version of this iMac will fix this, which is a good reason to wait for it.

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One million people have bonked on London public transport

Michael Jennings

I think the big reason why contactless travel has just increased on buses is that we now have capping. If you are making multiple journeys in a day or changing from one mode of transport to another, you now pay no more than a Travelcard and/or daily bus pass. Up until now, although contactless has worked on buses, you simply paid a single fare for each journey - no matter how many you made in a day. This means that it is now reasonable to simply use your contactless credit card to pay for all your daily travel, whereas in the past it was useful for those emergency situations when you had run out of money on your Oyster card (or left it at home) but you probably didn't want to use it for your regular use.

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Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer

Michael Jennings

Re: They are making profits of over £100m...

There is a class of middle-men (Carphone Warehouse, Phones 4U, Buymobiles etc) that exist between the mobile networks and many of their customers. These retailers are very expensive for the mobile networks, the networks have always resented their existence and have always thought that the profits being made by these people are rightfully theirs. The trouble is that many customers keep using the third party retailers rather than the mobile networks own direct sales businesses. This is because of the astounding level of incompetence of the networks' own in-house retail businesses. The networks are unaware of the level of their own incompetence at retail, which has made this very hard for them to fix. (Phones 4 U are pretty awful themselves, so their continued existence kind of baffles me, but they and the other third party retailers are providing *something* that the networks themselves are not).

It has always been inevitable that the networks would at some point squeeze out the third party retailers by simply refusing to do business with them. This explains Carphone Warehouse's attempts over the last few years to transform itself into a general consumer electronics retail business, variously by stocking other products in its shops (remember when they were full of laptops?), doing an ultimately disastrous deal with Best Buy, and ultimately through a merger with Dixons/Currys/PC World. I am not sure that this means better service for customers - in fact I am pretty sure it means worse - but that's where we are.

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Uber, Lyft and cutting corners: The true face of the Sharing Economy

Michael Jennings

Re: What about the unlicensed ones?

As long as the driver claims on some policy and that policy pays, then there really isn't a problem. If the normal situation is that the driver uses his own insurance, but that Uber also has "last resort" insurance for cases where this goes wrong, that seems fine to me. In fact, that seems good to me.

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PhabletPhace: All the cool kids are doing it in Asia

Michael Jennings

Re: Bluetooth

If you they are making most of your calls indoors and there is not a lot of ambient noise, they may just be putting everyone on speaker, too.

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Michael Jennings

Re: Phones with a 7"+ screen???

These are people who have never owned PCs, and don't make a lot of voice calls.

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

Michael Jennings

Re: No problem at all.

Clearly not, no.

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Michael Jennings

Re: No problem at all.

Some of us really like a £ symbol above the 3, too.

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Michael Jennings

Re: Premature

There will be new iPhones and new iPads in September and October, as there have been for several years. As for Macs, Intel is late with its next generation (Broadwell) hardware. Until Intel delivers this, all Apple can do is the occasional minor speed bump like this one. Intel is highly unlikely to deliver in significant quantities until next year. There have been a few rumours that Apple has a 12 inch retina display Macbook Air in the works. I suppose it is not unimaginable that they could release this with current Haswell hardware, but they will probably wait.

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Peak thumb drive is coming in 2016

Michael Jennings

Ah ye, another technology for which usage peaks long after it has become obsolete

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Game of Thrones written on brutal medieval word processor and OS

Michael Jennings

He has something that works for him, so he keeps using it. Nothing wrong with that.

Given that GRRM's published writing career goes back to the early 1970s, he presumably did originally use typewriters. I'm curious about when exactly he switched to a word processor. Did he use Wordstar on CP/M before on DOS?

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Faster Macbook Air pops out: What, a NEW Apple thing and ZERO fanfare?

Michael Jennings

Re: Without any fanfare

Apple gave one of its products a minor spec bump and a price cut. Both these things would be welcome if I were looking to buy one right now. (I am not, although I have the 2011 model and am happy enough with it for now. Undoubtedly some people are). Total non-story for everyone else, though.

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HOT AIR-FILLED Apple fanbois SHUNNED iPad 2 at Xmas

Michael Jennings

The iPad 2 is used by lots of corporate customers

There are lots of businesses using large fleets of iPad 2s for relatively simple tasks: at tills, as interactive guides to information, as electronic signs, and whatever. The hardware needs for such tasks are often low, and many such businesses have infrastructure set up to allow charging and software updating of their devices using Apple's old style hardware connector rather than the new Lightning connector. Apple continues to sell the iPad 2 to keep such customers happy. If you are a consumer, buying an iPad 2 makes no sense whatsoever, as it is ridiculously underpowered and overpriced for today's requirements. If you are a business who has hundreds or thousands of them, they are adequate for whatever task you are using them for them, and there are advantages of having common hardware for all the iPads you are using plus you don't want to upgrade your infrastructure, buying more iPad 2s might make sense.

Such customers aren't any more inclined to buy iPads at Christmas than at any other time of year, though, so the market share of the iPad 2 goes down at Christmas. Simple.

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Three offers free US roaming, confirms stealth 4G rollout

Michael Jennings

Re: Vodafone 4G

Three have a 2x10MHz chunk at 1800MHz, which becomes 2x15MHz in 2015 when EE are forced to divest a bit more spectrum. They also have 2x5MHz at 800MHz. O2 have only 2x10MHz at 800MHz. So although Three's spectrum holdings are not that huge, O2's are only half the size of Three's post 2015.

Vodafone have 2x10MHz at 800MHz and 2x20MHz at 2600MHz i.e. lots of spectrum

T-Mobile have 2x5MHz at 800MHz, 2x35MHz at 2600MHz and 2x50MHz (to be reduced to 2x45MHz in 2015) at 1800MHz i.e. lots and lots and lots of spectrum. (They do have to run a 2G network in that 1800MHz as well, but the can probably do that on 2x10MHz, so there is plenty of space left over that they are using and can use for 4G).

Plus there is 2x15MHz at 2600MHz that belongs to BT. It's quite possible O2 or Three will buy or licence that if they run into serious constraints.

Plus most of the operators have unpaired spectrum that could be used for TD-LTE in a pinch. (Some of this is from the 3G auction and some from the 4G auction). More of this might be auctioned, too. We will see how it plays out. My hunch is that O2 and Three will be able to find spectrum from somewhere when they need it.

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Michael Jennings

Re: What's to stop a US native using this?

If you look at Three's terms and conditions, it says that if you use nothing but the free roaming for an entire calendar month three times in a year, they will switch roaming off on your phone. This is clearly designed to prevent people from doing exactly what you are suggesting.

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Michael Jennings

Three are also doing the bulk of their 4G on the 1800MHz spectrum that EE were forced to divest when T-Mobile and Orange merged. This is a totally reasonable thing for them to be doing, but they got access to this spectrum three months later than Vodafone and O2 got access to the spectrum that they are using - the stuff that they bought in the auction in early 2013. This meant that Three were pretty much obliged launch their network three months later than the other two operators.

That said, Three were promising 4G December for all their London customers with a compatible handset, and they are now saying that only a small number are getting it in December and most people will have to wait until January or February. Looks like their network may have one or two teething problems. Again, there is nothing too surprising about this, but some of their customers are getting a little impatient now. The timing of the announcement about free roaming to the US was a nice piece of PR, as this seems to be a very popular announcement.

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Best budget Android smartphone there is? Must be the Moto G

Michael Jennings

With respect to the Amazon price, it might have been that Amazon themselves were out of stock and you were therefore seeing the price from a third party seller who had it in stock. Amazon themselves now seem to have it back in stock and are offering it for £135 as promised.

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Dear-ly beloved: Apple’s costly iPad Mini with Retina Display

Michael Jennings

Not really a fair comparison.

I don't think comparing the iPad mini with the Nexus 7 is terribly useful. Even though a 7.9 inch screen and a 7.0 inch screen sound similar in size, when you look at surface areas (taking into account that a screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio is smaller than a 4:3 screen with the same diagonal measurement), the area of the iPad mini's screen is 30.0 square inches, compared to 22.0 square inches for the Nexus 7. The iPad mini's screen is actually 36% bigger.

This actually is a good reason for many of us to buy an iPad mini rather than a Nexus 7. For me, 7 inch tablets like the Nexus 7 are too small, and the 8 inch size is much better. The Nexus 7 is a great device for the price, and if it works for you that's great, but there is actually a bit of a scarcity of high end Android tablets with screen sizes around that of the mini. Samsung makes a Galaxy Note 8 and a Galaxy Tab 8, but neither has anything like the screen resolution of the mini. (They are both 1280x800). I am sure the next generation of the Note 8 at least will have a high resolution screen, but for now we are waiting. A Nexus 8 would be nice, too, but once again, it does not presently exist.

In addition, those 8 inch Android tablets that do exist cost quite a bit more than the 7 inch tablets. The list price for the (lowish resolution) Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8 inch is £299 compared to £199 for the Galaxy Tab 3 7 inch. (Both products are selling at rather less than the list price, but 50% more for 8 inch seems to roughly hold). High resolution 8 inch Android tablets will come along, and will be cheaper than the iPad mini, but I doubt the price difference will be as dramatic as when you compare it to the Nexus 7 or other 7 inch tablets.

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