* Posts by leon clarke

56 posts • joined 1 Sep 2008

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China's best phone yet: Huawei P8 5.2-inch money-saving Android smartie

leon clarke
Stop

Some comparison with the OnePlus One please

OK, so it's much better value than South Korean flagships, but people wanting to save some money by getting a Chinese flagship already have a few options. OnePlus are probably creating the most media chatter, and I'd have thought the One is the obvious phone to compare with this.

I'd suspect the OnePlus One would be a better bet - slightly cheaper, hardware maybe a bit better depending on what metrics and benchmarks matter, and (most importantly) it comes with a more vanilla Android.

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YOU ARE THE DRONE in Amazon's rumoured new parcel delivery plan

leon clarke

This sounds exactly like the UK 'Amazon Logistics' operation that delivers prime stuff

...and involves random people in battered vans delivering the parcels. Either Amazon has very odd ideas about how to maintain a fleet of vans, or they're all freelancers in their own vehicles.

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GAZE upon our HI-RES DWARF PICS of Pluto, beams proud NASA

leon clarke

Plutonians?

How about Plutocrats

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

leon clarke

Re: Is there going to be a minefield with cable quality in alternate mode?

I wasn't worrying about a cable ignoring alternate mode. I was worrying about it not having the right wire, screening and so on for whatever protocol it finds itself carrying.

But I hope someone who knows more than I do about wire, screening and so on has thought of this.

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leon clarke
FAIL

Is there going to be a minefield with cable quality in alternate mode?

If a cheap cable just-about works for normal USB, I could easily imagine it not working for Thunderbolt. And maybe some cables would work for some alternate mode protocols but not others, while other cables will work for a different random set of protocols.

And has Thunderbolt managed to change things so it can run over passive cables? I thought that thunderbolt cables were really expensive as the actual driver circuitry was in the plug, not in the device. If so, have they solved an impressive problem or were they being lazy before?

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Hubble spots Pluto's moons are a chaotic mess of tumbling rock

leon clarke

Rugby Balls

I'm impressed that someone from the University of Maryland recognises the moons as rugby-ball shaped. I would have feared that people from near Maryland would mistake them for American Football shaped moons.

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NASA hands Boeing first commercial crew contract for SPAAAACE

leon clarke

CST-100's schedule looks interesting

According to Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CST-100

Pad abort test in Feb 2017, uncrewed flight to ISS in April, crewed flight in July. Presumably an in-flight abort test will happen in March.

That sounds like a remarkably short time to go from pad abort to crewed flight. It doesn't give much time for any lessons to be learnt from any minor anomalies between the launches.

My guess is that they've 'got' to be ready by June 2017 to get the NASA gig, but they don't think they'll be ready for pad abort before Feb. And they can pretend this is viable by assuming all those tests will go absolutely like clockwork.

So I guess SpaceX will be launching first, after 'unexpected' delays in Boeing's plans.

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A good effort, if a bit odd: Windows 10 IoT Core on Raspberry Pi 2

leon clarke

The Pi needs Windows for the same reason it needs RiscOS and Plan 9

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Ex 'Tech City' chief Shields appointed junior Fun minister for internet safety

leon clarke

Er, why at Ministry of Fun?

I'd have thought that if you wanted to do anything useful about anything to do with internet safety (as a minister), you'd have to be at the Home Office. That would give you involvement in things like the snooper's charter.

Whether or not she looks like a complete dead loss depends a lot on whether you compare her with successful people in the tech field, or whether you compare her to other ministers involved in internet stuff. I'm optimistic that she may be relatively good, because she isn't a PPE graduate who thinks that getting your secretary to print out your emails counts as using the internet (but she'll be unable to do anything as she'll have to tow the home office line on anything that matters)

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New EU security strategy: Sod cyber terrorism, BAN ENCRYPTION

leon clarke

Remind me who it was who organised the AES competition?

Surely they're responsible for all this strong crypto. They should be held responsible!

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Trading Standards pokes Amazon over 'libellous' review

leon clarke

Um, is this true everywhere

I've rung (and then been rung back by) 999 twice, both times in London. On both occasions the incoming call showed up as 999. Maybe other 999 call centers can't program the phone system as well.

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Google's new scribble-tab-ulous handwriting interface for Android

leon clarke

Finally

My android tablet is better in every respect than my Apple (Newton) tablet.

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'Why don't you buy from foreign sites?' asks Commish, snapping on the gloves

leon clarke

What's the definition of a foreign site?

Isn't amazon.co.uk technically in Luxemburg?

In which case many brits buy from foreign sites. I suspect many other national Amazon sites are the same.

(And I think there are EU countries without national Amazon sites, for whom Amazon insists on charging excessive postage fees)

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$30 Landfill Android mobes are proof that capitalism ROCKS

leon clarke

The invention that's done most for living standards in the last 50 years

An interesting question, but I'm going to argue for better semi-dwarf rice.

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Hurry shipmates - the black hats have hacked our fire control system

leon clarke

Aren't the fire control systems of Belfast completely mechanical?

In which case, anyone hacking them over the internet (or defending against such an attack) is a genius.

I understand that Scratchwood was chosen as the target to demonstrate the guns' range; of all the targets that are very close to the guns' maximum range, it was deemed the one most deserving of a few 6" shells. So the guns can't reach slough and targets in central London aren't impressive enough.

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Apple design don Jony Ive: Build-your-own phone is BOLLOCKS

leon clarke

Re: Alternatively

And since I'm bound to get accused of flamebait, I need to explain myself better.

If I hire a designer to design something for me, that thing is customised to my needs, my values and who I am. That's how the idea of design started. Any 'brilliant' house will have quirks in it because of the unique needs of the family for whom it was built. Now there's this idea that a designer can invent the perfect thing that's perfect for everyone. That idea is, frankly, rubbish. Since you can't afford to pay a decent designer to design the perfect phone for you, the best you can do is to do the personal aspects of the design yourself, by choosing the right one from a broad and diverse market.

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leon clarke

Alternatively

Buying Apple is abdicating your responsibility as an individual.

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IT knowledge is as important as Maths, says UK.gov

leon clarke

So, would the new cabinet minister for the digital agenda need to have a post A-Level qualification relevant to IT?

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UK.gov tempts SMEs with tasty framework, then slaps them in face

leon clarke

84% of SMEs on the framework?

Presumably that's 84% of SMEs interested in selling digital services to the government that the government knows about. Or maybe 84% of SMEs who have previously sold digital services to the government. It clearly isn't 84% of SMEs since most SMEs don't provide digital services. It probably isn't 84% of companies that provide 'digital services' as I can't imagine there's an accurate list of them.

So it sounds like the statistics are being assembled in a way that lets the civil service ignore any company that thinks working for the government is a PITA.

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Zoinks! Is that Mystery Machine Apple's SELF-DRIVING FAMILY WAGON? You decide

leon clarke

Er, isn't it obvious that 'streetview' cars are really 'google maps' cars

I suspect that Streetview was just an excuse to explain why Google was trying to photograph every single street in the world without suggesting to their then mapping providers that Google was developing its own maps. Apple clearly need to improve their maps. That means they need cars like this. The lack of a big high-up streetview style camera (and the obvious presence of lousy map data on iPhones) suggests that all that's going on here is mapping and they won't be adding their own streetview.

I don't see a lidar so I don't think it's anything to do with self driving.

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Euro mobile standards chiefs eye tiny beauty: It's the KEY to 5G

leon clarke

Re: Am I being stupid here?

Ahh. That makes sense

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leon clarke
WTF?

Am I being stupid here?

Loads of tiny cells controlled by lower-frequency super-cells? Why not just connect the end-user devices to the super-cell?

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Get your special 'sound-optimising' storage here, hipsters

leon clarke

I'll see your audiophile cat 5 and raise you

Now everyone's using WiFi, you really need digital-grade audiophile air. I wonder if it's OK to use the same kind of air for the wifi path and the audio path between the speakers and the ears.

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Google kills CAPTCHAs: Are we human or are we spammer?

leon clarke

Google seems very clever in its use of capchas

Not only are they presenting you with a problem which computers are bad at solving. They're presenting you with a problem that they want solved. So for instance, the image capcha thing will obviously be used to improve image search just as the pictures of house numbers were obviously being used to improve google maps.

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UK computing museum starts reboot of 65-year-old EDSAC

leon clarke

Oh, and zdnet has a rather good picture of the new EDSAC's boot ROM (which is a bit of a mechanical phone exchange)

http://www.zdnet.com/national-museum-of-computing-opens-edsac-display-recreating-1949s-top-computer-7000036216/

The boot ROM is one of those details that makes EDSAC so brilliant. Everyone else building computers at the time thought that building an electronic computer was an impressive achievement by itself. The EDSAC team also thought through what else was needed to let other people in the university to do something useful with it - so they invented boot ROMs and subroutines and so on.

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leon clarke

Reboot?

Have they actually restored it, or is this a replica? I was unaware that any significant parts of it survived.

All the same, incredible achievement!

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BIG trouble in Big China: Samsung cops it RIGHT in the wallet

leon clarke

To what extent are Apple prices grounded in reality?

My guess is they can only maintain so much of a premium over Samsung, so Samsung reacting to the Chinese will have an impact on Apple profits.

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EU competition chief goes after Amazon’s delux Lux tax deal

leon clarke
FAIL

11 years to investigate...

Has Almunia not heard of the concept of having subordinates to do some of the work for you? If there were 5,000 matters that should have been handled at first then there should have been enough people to handle them.

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Supercapacitors have the power to save you from data loss

leon clarke

Very interesting

But any chance of a noddy version of this article - that actually mentions particular models of SSD instead of particular capacitor chemistry options.

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What the 4K: High-def DisplayPort vid meets reversible USB Type C

leon clarke

Re: Nirvana

If only someone could invent the 3.5mm headphone jack we'd be happy

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leon clarke
Thumb Up

Interesting

It's interesting to see Apple on board, especially for mobile. Suggests they reckon that Lightning will run out of speed and have to be replaced by USB C.

Something interesting in press release: The cable has 4 USB 3.1 lanes. Each lane can either be used for USB or re-purposed for DisplayPort. That means that you could have a 2.5kx1.4k monitor with a built-in USB 3 hub connected using 1 USB C lead. 2 lanes can drive the monitor and the other 2 provide 20gbps to the USB hub.

And I didn't know that USB C has a standard for negotiating complete changes of wire protocol. Cool. That means that a phone could contain a USB C port, but a range of reasonably-cheap adapters can expose a range of different signals. (This will be less useful when USB C takes over the world and there's no need for any other signals, but still)

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Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS

leon clarke

I'm sure this is standard model aircraft terminology...

but why is the thing that connects the batteries to the servo called a battery eliminator?

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Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes

leon clarke

It probably needs to pay most of those fees on to visa/mastercard, who will then pass them on to the issuer banks. The banks get so much money from card merchant fees that they feel generous enough to give people 1% cashback, and an interest free month.

(Creating a form of payment which didn't inherently cost so much would be a good thing, but that's a Separate Issue)

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NVIDIA claims first 64-bit ARMv8 SoC for Androids

leon clarke

Re: Microcode

And Wikipedia tells us that Denver is indeed a microcoded CPU designed by engineers poached from various companies including Transmeta (and possibly licensing some transmeta tech). The reason it can't do x86 is that Nvidia doesn't have the patent licenses.

7-way superscalar, so if it works it'll be very fast.

I await some real independent benchmarks with interest.

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leon clarke

Re: Microcode

Jazelle executes easy Java bytecode instructions natively, but bails out and switches back to interpreting when it gets anything difficult. The process of bailing out is so slow that in practice, JITs have always been faster.

But I'm sure this article is actually saying that ARMs are now so complex that they have real microcode interpretation of ARM instructions. Which is interesting.

Caching microcode didn't work very well on the Pentium 4. Hopefully only doing it on 'commonly used code' might work better. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out; brilliant ideas in chip design have a habit of not actually working in practice (see Jazelle and the Pentium 4)

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Surfing the web from Android? We KNEW it – sorry, iOS fanbois

leon clarke
Megaphone

The most interesting detail there...

Is at the bottom.

I'd have guessed that Android and Apple were way out in front and roughly neck and neck. But I'd have guessed the others completely wrong. So Symbian is still way ahead of Windows Phone 8 for actual usage; that's surprising. And it looks like featurephones are the third phone ecosystem at the moment, comfortably beating Windows Phone, Blackberry and Symbian.

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

leon clarke

To be fair to the CIO...

I can't remember ever going on a mandatory training course on a new system that imparted any useful knowledge about anything, let alone how to use the new system. So, in my experience, he was proposing a quality level far higher than the industry standard.

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David Cameron wants mobe network roaming INSIDE the UK

leon clarke

Maybe this could work with the right regulations

I think this is most likely to go nowhere and if it does happen, it'll be a disaster but...

What if roaming was not only mandatory but the roamed-to network received hefty charges which the phone's network wasn't allowed to pass on to the customer. That would create a real incentive to increase coverage.

Of course, it'd drive up costs (someone needs to pay for the new masts, and for the endless legal challenges to the idea), but could be worth it for decent coverage.

In fact, this will go nowhere as it only really makes a difference in solid-blue constituencies. What is needed is an initiative that improves phone reception in marginal constituencies.

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Google's SPDY blamed for slowing HTTP 2.0 development

leon clarke
WTF?

Is there a good summary somewhere of what the 'numerous hard problems' are?

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Apple, Beats and fools with money who trust celeb endorsements

leon clarke
Go

Beats me!

Actually, I think it makes sense of Apple to buy Beats.

Beats are, as noted, massively overpriced headphones that manage to sell well due to gimmicky features, styling and a strong brand. Therefore we can assume Beats has some world-class experts at selling massively overpriced goods by adding gimmicky features, styling and a strong brand. That's Apple's core competency, and having some more people who are good at it could easily be worth that much. It's just like tech companies buying startups just for a room full of smart engineers, with complete disregard for the startup's product, only here it's not engineers.

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Projector on a smartphone? There's a chip for that

leon clarke

Re: This one *is* different

That's really important for everyone who's avoided phone projectors on the grounds that they have nothing in common with phased array radar.

Actually, the throwaway remark at the end that this could be used for cheaper and more robust LIDAR is probably the most exciting aspect of this - personally I need a self-driving car more often than I need a projector phone.

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A potted history of cloud computing

leon clarke

Etymology

I've been wondering about the etymology of the term 'cloud computing'. I suspect it's a case of a term with negative connotations being embraced, but I'm looking for some evidence.

i.e. I assume it started with fans of on-premises computing saying you want your data to be where you can see it, not 'in the clouds', and then became the term used by the people making the opposite argument.

Anyone know?

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Let Google's tentacles fondle your mobile's web downloads and Chrome will put the data on a diet

leon clarke
Pint

Latency

2 things:

Firstly this should greatly reduce latency since fewer TCP handshakes are needed. In fact, the DNS requests should end up happening from Google's servers, not from the phone. Latency is a big deal on mobile networks.

Secondly, SPDY always uses TLS. So while all your data is accessible to Google, it's inaccessible to everyone else in the cafe with unencrypted WiFi that you're sitting in (and the cafe owners, even if the WiFi has encryption). Whether that makes things better or worse depends on the cafes you frequent.

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Apple 'slashes iPhone 5 screen orders', tight-fisted fanbois blamed

leon clarke
FAIL

So let's get this straight

They expected to sell twice as many as last year, based on a not-completely-earth-shattering update, in more competitive market conditions. But it turns out they're selling about the same number as last year.

I think there's been an accident with the reality-distortion field in the Apple supply-chain department

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Pocket Wi-Fi hotspots paralyse Chinese metro lines

leon clarke
Stop

The fact that anyone thought WiFi was reliable enough to run a signalling system on a good day is terrifying by itself, even without any interference from hotspots. Why not just run wires down the trackbed like sensible people do?

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US data centers get bigger, but there are fewer of them – survey

leon clarke

Is there a precise definition of a data centre?

I assumed that a data centre was quite a big setup, not to be confused with a mere server room, but it sounds like standards might be slipping.

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Register SPB hacks mull chopping off feet

leon clarke
Go

Re: <repost>

> Look, everyone knows what happens if you keep switching units: you'll crash into Mars

That would be classed as a spectacular success for the LOHAN project. Anything that increases the chance of crashing into mars should be done. Keep with mixed units.

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Acer takes fight to Nexus 7 with seven-inch Iconia tablet

leon clarke
Thumb Up

£179 at ebuyer

http://www.ebuyer.com/394008-acer-iconia-a110-tablet-pc-ht-hapek-001

(On pre order of course)

I reckon that's a good deal!

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US mulls outlawing rival product bans using standards patents

leon clarke
FAIL

What's a standard

The people lobbying for this (who are probably from Cupertino, not Mountain View) seem to be distinguishing between a 'real standard' such as UMTS, written by a standards body and described in big specifications, and the obvious features that everyone expects a device to have (it's a black rectangle with a touchscreen that does things when you swipe it).

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