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* Posts by ThomH

1937 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Apple bats away yet another WiLAN patent sueball

ThomH
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Re: Why bother?

Judges decide issues of law, juries decide issues of fact. So e.g. if the law states that someone must do A, B, C to achieve crime Q but the prosecution presents only evidence of A and B — failing even to mention C — then the judge should decide that the jury cannot find a verdict on crime Q. Specifically what happens is that the judge phrases the questions the jury must answer. If the jury answers different questions then that has no effect.

Like if they came back and said "the defendant is not guilty... because Ted did it!"; if Ted weren't a defendant then that wouldn't mean he'd been found guilty of the crime.

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Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?

ThomH
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It's the British government that overrules the British courts

British legislation tells the British courts that if Strasbourg has said something then it should be taken account of, as far as possible. British law also says that if British legislation explicitly contracts anything said by Strasbourg or contained within the ECHR then the court must follow the British legislation.

Apologies to the Daily Mail contingent.

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Reg hands portable Sinclair ZX Spectrum to lucky compo winner

ThomH
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If El Reg has only 2000 regular readers then we needn't worry about it doing anything sinister any time soon. Or indeed continuing to do much of anything.

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BENDY iPhone 6, you say? Pah, warp claims are bent out of shape: Consumer Reports

ThomH
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The Consumer Reports verdict was "We expect that any of these phones should stand up to typical use". That was after laboratory tests, carried out by qualified professionals, for a long-established organisation that would have no business if it were believed to offer unreliable reports to consumers.

I'm confident the random commenters and bloggers of the internet will somehow have greater insight than the professionals.

And, yes, it also found the Samsung twice as able to stand up to atypical usage.

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Re: Headline should read "Note 3 Twice as Strong as iPhone 6"

It's a shame they didn't test any regularly-sized Samusungs; they're probably even more sturdy.

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Re: Laboratory Street

Consumer Reports is a thoroughly trusted organisatiom with an 80-year history. There's zero evidence of corruption here.

If you're the sort of person that jumped to that conclusion then here are some more facts that may rock your world: man really did land on the moon, the Earth is round, Obama was born in Hawaii.

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ThomH
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Re: Blogger Fraud, even? @Bob

What does the one thing have to do with the other?

The Slate article appears to be about some idiot who badly faked a video of bending the thing with his own hands. But that was following the initial reports — of it bending of its own volition during the course of a wedding, etc — so is itself a complete side issue to the bendability of the thing.

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Bendgate backlash: Apple claims warped iPhone 6 Plus damage is 'extremely rare'

ThomH
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Re: OK, it's very rare (@captain veg)

The HTC One is also made of aluminium, so that's not a "yes, but" between Apple and HTC.

So, honestly, the story is probably threefold:

* Apple not learning from its competitors;

* Apple sacrificing rigidity for thinness (as in, objectively, per Consumer Reports, the 6 and 6+ are much less rigid than the 5s);

* Apple acting in such a way that people apply different standards to it.

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ThomH
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Re: OK, it's very rare (@petur)

Surely the issue is the range? Even amongst well-regard handsets, Apple is not an outlier.

I still think this is much more a case of the hype not matching the reality (i.e. it's just another handset, with each individual attribute being located within the spectrum of its competitors) and people enjoying any opportunity to take Apple down a peg or two for being so arrogant, than it is of some sort of recall-worthy defect.

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ThomH
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Re: OK, it's very rare

Per Consumer Reports — see e.g. http://www.examiner.com/article/consumer-reports-says-iphone-6-and-iphone-6-plus-are-not-very-bendable — the iPhone 6 is in fact no more bendable than the competition.

From worst to best:

HTC One (70 pounds to deform, 90 pounds to separate);

iPhone 6 (70 pounds to deform, 100 to separate);

iPhone 6+ (90 pounds to deform, 110 to separate),

LG G3 (130 pounds both to deform and to separate);

iPhone 5s (130 to deform, 150 to separate);

Galaxy Note 3 (150 pounds both to deform and to separate).

So Apple has remained strictly within industry bounds, never producing either the most robust or the most deformable phone. Maybe the issue is more that it's jumped from being equal with the high end of the table on one measure to being equal with the low end on another?

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How the FLAC do I tell MP3s from lossless audio?

ThomH
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Re: Zip file recursive frustration

The Finder can handle zip files perfectly. It can't handle .cpgz — compressed Unix CPIO archive file — well at all, but stupidly believes that it can.

Top OS X tip: grab The Unarchiver. From the App Store or elsewhere.

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ThomH
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Re: "Everything between sample points is lost" (@the spectacularly refined chap)

I think he means to make the distinction between the time domain and the frequency domain. Assuming perfect instantaneous sampling then everything in between samples in the time domain is lost. But, frequency wise, there's no new information between samples to miss.

I guess it depends on what you define the totality of the information to be. If you want to record all frequencies up to 20Khz then if you have regular samples at 40Khz, nothing is lost. If your low-pass filter is insufficient then aliasing may even add things that weren't there originally...

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Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR

ThomH
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I saw my first out-on-the-street user today. But I live in San Francisco, so almost a week is actually a surprisingly long delay. I've seen Google Glasses and Segways, after all. You know, while I'm not jealously eyeing up those making their escape back into mainstream society.

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ThomH
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Re: Maids a milking

Seems to me like Apple's problems are outnumbering Microsoft's right now. Microsoft have just gone in an undesirable direction; Apple appear to have had trouble getting a fully-working piece of software out the door to meet their hardware deadlines.

Heads should roll, but don't ask me in which department. Was it an unrealistic deadline or was the realistic deadline simply handled poorly? So heads probably won't roll.

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AVOID the Apple Watch. Buy a drone or robot instead, techies told

ThomH
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Re: and I believe...

Just being wrong (at least) once before does not establish that pundits are always wrong.

There are similarly pundits who declared that the G4 Cube would change the computer marketplace, that the Apple TV would kill the Roku stone dead and that Android would never have more than 10% of the market. Some of those same pundits also said the iPad would be the first really successful tablet.

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ThomH
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Re: For Christmas I would ...

Although that is true of me, if there's no third option then I'm also happy to skip Christmas this year.

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Your chance to WIN the WORLD'S ONLY HANDHELD ZX SPECTRUM

ThomH
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Re: Android ZX Spectrum emulator (@Mr C Hill)

The relevant Android APIs are sufficiently low level that Marvin works excellently with a vanilla bluetooth keyboard.

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Game pirates 'donate' compute power to Bitcoin miners

ThomH
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That's deadly!

Or possibly harmless, mostly harmless, poor, average, above average, competent, dangerous or elite.

(though I assume the logo's just a lift by the hacking group if the games affected are only those listed)

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Apple iPhone 6: Looking good, slim. AW... your battery died

ThomH
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@Tom Chiverton 1

Because your American bank account still doesn't even give you a card with a chip in it, let alone one with NFC? I don't know why the American banks have ignored the technology until now but many of the retailers have got the terminals. If Apple really are getting 0.015% per transaction then it sounds like an easy, essentially free way to generate revenue for them.

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Germany strikes again over Amazon warehouse pay

ThomH
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Re: The 'Jack Boot' is on the other foot now! (@Ivan 4)

"Right-wing politics are political positions or activities that view some forms of social hierarchy or social inequality as either inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically justifying this position on the basis of natural law or tradition."

Remind me, what did the genocidal cabal that first seized Germany — based on organised perversion of the constitution from a footing of just 18% of the vote in the one genuinely democratic election they took part in — and then seized Poland, Austria, etc, think about Jews, Gypsies, gays, etc?

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ThomH
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Re: The 'Jack Boot' is on the other foot now!

The Germans ended up bankrupt and with millions dead, their country split in two and half of them living under communism for the next half century because of a right-wing dictatorship. That's quite a lot of pain already, wouldn't you say?

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Apple pours a cup of JavaScript for its Automator robot

ThomH
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Re: OS X is already a fully scriptable OS @sabroni

There's already a scripting language, imaginatively titled AppleScript, which first appeared at the start of the '90s. Then there's the Automator, from the mid-'00s and which this article mentions, which provides a graphical way of wiring applications together. I would imagine the latter is more commonly used than the former nowadays but it's just a code generator underneath.

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ThomH
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It's a sensible development

OS X is already a fully scriptable OS and JavaScriptCore has elevated Apple's JavaScript implementation to a system-level framework. Joining the dots probably took all of five minutes.

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Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed

ThomH
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Re: I used to think he was a tosser

I was unaware until now that he is as talented a technologist as he is a musician.

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Register journo battles Sydney iPHONE queue, FONDLES BIG 'UN

ThomH
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Re: iOS 8 impression

I have iOS 5 on my iPad 1. It introduced some severe hesitation, which was never corrected.

... but at least you can try an alternative keyboard? It's unlikely to help but you never know.

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iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!

ThomH
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@Kristian Walsh

The iPhone 6 received 4 million pre-orders in the first 24 hours. The 5 received 2 million in the same period. Per the first statistics I could find on Google, 91 million units of the iPhone 5 were sold in total (it's a convenient handset to check because it lasted exactly a year on the market, is no longer sold, and rubs iOS 8 quite well).

I'd therefore suggest that your 300,000–600,000 new WebGL users estimate is, ummmm, let's say a little conservative.

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ThomH
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Re: So WebGL

It's non-proprietary and doesn't require a licence for any sort of deployment.

It's also a completely different product. WebGL is a thin hardware abstraction. Think of it like assembly language. You directly control the primitives to be drawn and the function applied to determine the colour of each pixel of each primitive.

Unity is a game-engine. Think of it more like the combination of C# and the Windows Presentation Foundation. You describe a number of objects within a scene and their properties. So it's a much higher-level thing that technically constrains you to certain semantics but which is designed to be broad enough for a huge proportion of use cases. It will be using WebGL to render.

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ThomH
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That's nothing like why VRML failed

VRML was a declarative scene description. So it failed for the same reasons that all of the scene graphs around then — Direct3d retained mode, RAVE, etc — also failed. Developers don't want that. It makes it incredibly difficult to produce an efficient rendering because you can't apply domain-specific algorithms. So you can't do Doom because there's no way to provide a BSP tree or write special-case linear-along-spans polygon fillers. You can't do Descent because there's no way to walk a portal tree. You can't do most racing games because you can't reduce visibility and clipping of extra-track detail to a one-dimensional problem. Etc, etc.

Scene graphs are in better shape now just as you wouldn't think twice about using a compiler: they're better at management (thanks in part to dynamic tools like the occlusion query reducing some of the need for ahead-of-time calculation) and, anyway, the processing budget is so huge that optimising for project creation time is smarter. This was definitely not the case in 1994.

Arguing that VRMLs issues were overwhelmingly on the business side is disingenuous. Think of almost any significant 3d program from the mid-'90s. VRML is a bad fit for the program you're thinking of.

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ThomH
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Re: A sabotaged WebGL !

Where "iOS memory problems that limit any sensible multi tasking" means "iOS will evict software that is in the background if software that is in the foreground needs the resources". It also has no relation whatsoever to what you're otherwise discussing: that if you write for WebGL rather than native on the same iOS device then you potentially have access to fewer extensions and lower numbers of varyings, uniforms, etc.

I'd have thought it was something to do with this being the first version of Apple's WebGL sandbox (WebGL having previously been available for iAds but not in the browser).

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Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets

ThomH
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Re: Zapp

Apple's contactless payment service also works direct from your current account rather than having to top up a third-party wallet. Assuming that contactless is contactless is contactless, I would think Apple's push will help Zapp. Once a vocal 10% or whatever it is now of phone owners can do something, such other latent demand as existed will be realised.

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ThomH
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Re: "operator-led NFC payments system"

You're not one of those crazy payment neutrality weirdos, are you? If we keep the networks out of this then who is going to block small firms and hinder new ideas?

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Sellouts! Fans snap up iPhone 6 Plus pre-orders to avoid store queues

ThomH
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Hang on... are you meaning to imply that things are more likely to be sold out if it's their launch day?

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iPhone 6: Advanced features? Pah! Nexus 4 had most of them in 2012

ThomH
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Re: NFC != payment system

On the iPhone that is handled via Bluetooth. You have to tap the recipient's name on your screen rather than touch your phone to the other, but for an application where you already have the phone out and are using the screen that's no big deal. Naturally Apple has wrapped it all in proprietary stuff, as AirDrop™, but it's there nevertheless.

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ThomH
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Re: nearly $1000

In Apple's defence, that's the top-of-the-range price and is much the same as everybody else's top-of-the-range price.

It's the fact that the bottom-of-the-range brand new unlocked price — for a 5c — is $450 that's more of an issue. Compare and contrast with the $180 Motorola G, or even the $350 Nexus 5.

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ThomH
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Re: NFC woes to come (@Piro)

The funny thing is, although the cards here don't even have chip and pin yet, the contactless terminals are widely deployed. I've no idea what they're expecting to talk to; I assume it's an international economies-of-scale thing that would have made it more expensive for American retailers to purchase the ones with NFC taken out again.

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BONEHEAD FANBOIS encamp outside Apple Stores

ThomH
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Re: I don't get why it's important to be first (@Truth4u)

Dark Side of the Moon spending 14 years in the US top 200 — in the era before downloads — is pretty impressive though, right?

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ThomH
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Re: not a Delivery?

Why the dislike for JDX's comment? He's right: Apple doesn't have to take its store offline any more than it has to have a big press announcement, it's just another cynical way to eke out free publicity. Which we're all enabling with this conversation.

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Apple's ONE LESS THING: the iPod Classic disappears

ThomH
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Re: So, for people like me that still get good use out of theirs

My reasonably historic car stereo can connect via USB to a 30-pin iPod, so as to allow navigation and playback of its collection via the controls built into the steering wheel. Anything modern isn't so useable with that particular hardware — sure, you could use Bluetooth to stream audio but then you're having to navigate on the device and push rather than on the car and pull.

So it's an affront to any reasonable person's desire to be free of vendor lock-in, essentially forcing me to buy an Apple-brand spinning platter rather than a cheaper USB thumb drive*, but I will probably grab an outgoing Classic.

* but not cheaper if I have to buy a new car stereo too.

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Why Apple had to craft a pocket-busting 5.5in Plus-sized iPhone 6 (thank LG, Samsung etc)

ThomH
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Re: It's all about the screen size

Unlike Google, Apple isn't attempting to displace Visa or Mastercard. Apple's system works analogously to something like OAuth: your existing Visa or Mastercard account vends a token that is stored in the phone. That token is communicated to the shop. The shop charges your Visa or Mastercard, via your normal bank.

I think Apple's probably going to be able to drag quite a few shops along through its marketing muscle. It'll be of the same benefit to the rest of us as its previous efforts in bringing unmetered billing via AT&T.

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5.5in iPhone 6, iWatch hypegasm: What will Apple reveal - BE the rumour

ThomH
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Re: "What will Apple reveal tomorrow" @a53

No assumption made; just responding to a comment that accused Apple of egregious pricing and margins with the actual numbers, to evidence that Apple's pricing and margins are the same as almost everybody else's (with some obiter praise for the real outlier: Google).

Also you might need to redress your assumptions about resale value. Too many people don't seem to know how to sever their iPhone from their iCloud account, with the effect that secondhand ones are now routinely, ummm, un-activatable. Just as if they were stolen. That's going to hit prices.

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ThomH
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Re: "What will Apple reveal tomorrow" @donguevas

Would you care to visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00E92B88I/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1410237094&sr=8-1&pi=SY200_QL40 and tell us: what list price does Amazon give and is the price, even now, as low as $259–$349?

... or maybe visit http://www.engadget.com/products/motorola/moto/x/ and tell us: what did Engadget think the on-a-contract price was at launch, and what was Apple's? Did they describe it as cheap or expensive?

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ThomH
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Re: "What will Apple reveal tomorrow"

The 5s bill of materials is $199. The HTC One is $218. The Moto X is $221. The Nexus 5 is $215.

Apple charges $650. HTC charges $650. Motorola charges $620. Google charges $350.

So Google's the anomaly. Apple, HTC and Motorola all charge pretty much the same amount for their high-end phones and make pretty much the same profit margins.

If you want a high end phone for a reasonable price, buy the Google. If you just want a reasonably priced phone, stay away from the high end. The profit margins on things like the Motorola G ($123 bill of materials; $180 retail price) are much saner.

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ThomH
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Re: "What will Apple reveal tomorrow"

Smart Personal Objects Technology? Microsoft's 2004 effort at smart watches and the internet of things?

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ThomH
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I want to care...

... I really do. I'm a professional iOS developer. I'm about to change jobs from one that provides a phone to one that doesn't so will have to buy my own for the first time in about half a decade. But I think my problem is this: if I decide to stick with an iOS phone for work then there really aren't any options. So what's there to get excited about? Whatever they release is whatever I'll get so I don't really need to know anything much about it in advance; I'll figure it out when I open the box. Conversely, if I decide iOS isn't essential then I probably won't consider the iPhone at all, as phones are all pretty much the same so why buy one of the more expensive ones? A Motorola or a Nokia will do, no need for an Apple or an HTC.

So, short of announcing either that iOS is going to be available on other phones or is no longer going to be available on the iPhone, there's really nothing they're likely to say that will affect my buying decision.

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O2 breathes life into Amazon Fire: Mobe to hit Blighty in WEEKS

ThomH
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Re: Even free isn't cheap enough

I'm with MooseMonkey. I own a Kindle. I'm aware that I'm paying near-paperback prices effectively to rent titles and that I've limited my hardware options in the future if I want to retain my current titles. Comparing the size of my house to my appetite for books and considering the wider market for electronic books, the trade-off is worth it. I'm not willing to live my life according to the game of What Would Stallman Do?

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Moto 360: Neat gizmo – if you're a rich nerd

ThomH
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Re: just me ??

It'd certainly be a more discreet way to check things — in meetings, in the pub, etc. Maybe we'll all be walking around like ex-smokers in a few years, completely lost for anything to do with our hands?

But the battery life just isn't acceptable. I wear a Basis, one of the fitness watches, and its battery lasts four or five days. That's already short enough to be a major hassle. Charging every day, or even several times a day as other reviews of the Moto have alleged, just isn't convenient. Wearing a watch in those circumstances quickly demotes itself back to being more bother than it's worth. If it's not on enough to be habit-forming then what's the point?

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Size matters – how else could Dell squeeze 15 million pixels into this 27" 5K monitor?

ThomH
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Re: What's the point?

Per elementary sampling theory, there's quite a lot of natural high-frequency signal — even in output like text — that cannot be displayed on ~110dpi monitors. It's not just a question of whether you can see the pixels, regardless of what faulty instincts indicate; low-pass filtering can always make the pixels invisible if enough colours are available, just by omitting large parts of the signal.

A monitor like this gets much closer to looking like print than does one with a quarter the resolution. It is therefore a much more comfortable reading experience. It is therefore better for pretty much every purpose.

Put a Chromebook Pixel next to a regular Chromebook or a Retina MacBook next to a regular MacBook. I guarantee you'll see a huge improvement.

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Mac security packages range from peachy to rancid – antivirus tests

ThomH
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Re: 2005 is calling and it wants its dumb idea back ..

To be fair to Apple, to run an unsigned application you now need to go into the Finder, right click on the thing, select 'Open' and then say 'Yes' to the warning prompt that appears. Signed applications from outside the App Store show the prompt and Apple can withdraw the certificate centrally. In both cases this needs to be done only once to bless the app as permitted. Only App Store apps, which Apple has inspected, run immediately, first time.

Of course you can turn all that off if you want, but it's an attempt to push towards enumerating goodness and away from enumerating badness.

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ThomH
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Re: They didn't review...

My housemate — no, really, not me — recently installed some peer-to-peer software or another that also hijacked her browser so that adverts for MacDefender were shown in a pop-up window every time she followed any link and in a large banner at the top of every page she visited. Which makes it little better than ransomeware. She'd downloaded some clearly dodgy software and supplied root privileges for install but what's the difference what the attack vector was once it's installed?

The specific Trojan causing this was called VSearch or something like that; the binaries were in /System/Application Support, which as someone who knows the general startup procedure were easy to find and remove manually. I think most Mac malware is still at that level. I fear it may not stay so simple for long.

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Apple tells devs: NO slurping users' HEALTH for sale to Dark Powers

ThomH
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Where the game they played with location data being... failure to empty out a cache and, additionally, not requiring that iOS backups are encrypted by default.

With the net effect that personal data might be easily obtained because (i) it was still recorded even when long stale; and (ii) users who would have enabled encryption had they known might not have done so because they didn't know the personal data was there.

It's cock up, not conspiracy. The evidence in support of that proposition is that the cache data was never sent to anyone. Apple didn't harvest this data. It never even received it.

So if you're asking: who would trust Apple to store personal information securely? Yeah, hopefully nobody to whom the issue is particularly critical. But who should take Apple on its word that it's going to block apps that try to profit from your data? Well, I think everyone. Apple's track record on blocking apps based on policing, and over-policing, of internal policies is very strong...

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