Feeds

* Posts by ThomH

1838 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Five amazing computers for under £100

ThomH
Silver badge

@Davidoff re: "not a 'NeXT handheld computer'"

It has an updated version of the language runtime (per the move towards formal protocols and the addition of closures), all the old Foundation classes (with additions), much the same conventions and patterns (target/action, delegation), and the kernel is a much updated version of that which was part of NextStep. Only the user interface library is all new, per the new user interface paradigm — multiple touches and direct manipulation are in; at the C level DisplayPostscript is out due to licensing costs and a PDF-derived alternative (so, same primitives but no language) is in.

I'd say it is quite closely related to NextStep.

4
0

Kindle beats Apple's closed book on choice

ThomH
Silver badge

Completely agree

With both mucksie2676 and the other posters making the point that correlation is not causation and, even if it were, taking the one difference in abstract is massively overreaching.

From a completely subjective point of view, I live in London, in a typical London sized property. When I bought books, I tended to read them once or twice, maybe keep them on a shelf for a while but eventually give them away — either to a friend or via those handy Oxfam collection bins. I don't have the space to keep every book I've ever read and I don't really have the desire to. I have a bunch of reference books that I'll probably keep forever but they're in the minority.

Hence, I really don't care about portability of my e-book purchases. I have a Kindle and an iPad, and tend to buy a few books a month on the Kindle but have never bought any at all on the iPad despite downloading the iBooks app and trying the sample copy of Alice in Wonderland. I have the Kindle app for the iPad too, but doubt I've opened it more than about twice.

It's simply that the Kindle is by far the better reading device. It's a much more convenient size for public transport, you quickly forget that it's a screen you're looking at because the type looks a lot better (ie, you can't see the pixels), and the screen is visible in direct sunlight and doesn't attempt to blind me when I'm reading at night. So, it's more convenient: (i) on public transport; (ii) in the park; and (iii) in bed. Which is a clean sweep of my normal reading environments.

I guess it's nice to know that my purchases will someday be portable should a better device come along, but as I've yet to read any of them more than once I'm not really that bothered. It's actually much more bothersome that I can't pass them on having now finished with them.

3
0

'Fierce competition' drives Apple's iPhone 6 changes

ThomH
Silver badge

On the contrary

The primary thing that dictates the best screen size is the size of an average human hand. The bigger necessarily equals better crowd are primarily those that have decided they want to criticise and have worked backwards to find any distinguishing feature. I'd rate it about equal with "the Android user interface is worse because it doesn't have CoverFlow" on the scale of valid criticisms.

Of course, that doesn't mean Apple won't ship a bigger screen. At this point, distinction from the previous years' model seems to be getting ever more slender across the industry, so giving people anything on which they can try to rationalise an upgrade is advantageous.

7
5

WTF is... 4K x 2K?

ThomH
Silver badge

According to my maths...

1080p has a diagonal of almost 2203 pixels, so on a screen with a 50 inch (or 127cm) diagonal that's 44 PPI (or, the other way around, each pixel is about 0.058cm across).

So if you sit 2m away, each pixel subtends an angle of about 0.02 degrees on the retina, or very very close to 1 arc minute. A human eye in optimal illumination conditions can distinguish two lines if they're 0.6 arc minutes apart, so technically a higher resolution could be beneficial. But I imagine not really in any of the scenes you're likely to see on TV, which tend to be moving scenes featuring large objects rather than perfectly static shots of typography or, ummm, rakes at a distance. And probably not at all if, like most of the people here, you've spent most of your life staring at a screen that's maybe 45cm from your face.

It's probably worth someone else checking my maths before you take this as a definitive answer...

2
0

360 Browser

ThomH
Silver badge

@Jolyon

There's some sort of refund mechanism, but I've never been clear exactly how it works. There was a minor uproar amongst developers when it was first announced since Apple were taking 30% of the original sale, but then supplying 100% of the refund from the relevant developer's account. I suspect they may just have decided to make the feature a little obscure rather than deal with the matter properly.

1
0

Android, Steve Jobs, and Apple's '90%' tablet share

ThomH
Silver badge

@revisionists both ways

What the iPhone had was a multitouch, direct manipulation API. So, in the browser you didn't use a little joystick to step down the page one notch at a time and you didn't go to a little submenu somewhere to decide whether you wanted 50%, 75% or 100% zoom. And it shipped with industry standard fonts like Times and Helvetica, using Apple's preferred typographically-accurate rendering, on a screen with a then high pixel density. It was also the first phone to ship with and with an OS built around the presumption of a GPU.

When you bought an iPhone you also got an unlimited data plan — at the time almost unheard of — and no carrier interference.

Most competitor's phones then rarely shipped without being crippled by the carrier, required a BSc to operate fully and were proud to include only exactly one font. I was at an a Nokia presentation just shortly before the Microsoft announcement and one of the invited speakers opined that it was a big joke that anyone should care how text on screen looks, as long as it's there.

So, limited innovations if you're going to boil them down to numbers. But if you're the sort of person that genuinely thinks the correct way to compare devices is a simple present-or-absent feature check list and that direct manipulation and physical navigation metaphors count only as "a pretty UI".

4
0
ThomH
Silver badge

@DrXym

The Asus Eee Pad Transformer doesn't have the same specs as the iPad. It has a slower CPU and GPU (see, e.g. http://www.glbenchmark.com/compare.jsp?benchmark=glpro20&showhide=true&certified_only=1&D1=Apple%20iPad%202&D2=Motorola%20Xoom&D3=Apple%20iPad&D4=Samsung%20GT-P1000%20Galaxy%20Tab), being based on an older chip, which it counterbalances with a better camera and slightly larger, slightly higher resolution screen. And it's just £20 cheaper, so all it really evidences is that other manufacturers are able to hit much the same price points for much the same technology.

0
1
ThomH
Silver badge

No innovation required

Android dominates the phone market not by being on any innovative devices — in truth nobody has innovated for years — just by being on a lot of different handsets, relatively cheaply. It ticks all the boxes that a large proportion of the market care about, which is enough.

9
3

The Microsoft mobile reboot needs rebooting

ThomH
Silver badge

@Aaron 10

Google would argue they're only temporarily closed source, but even if the Android source code is never published again, it'd still be the only one of the offerings from Microsoft, Apple and Google to allow anyone to install any application from any source. They also score points against Microsoft for the breadth of the SDK - Java in the VM or C (or anything else GCC can do) directly on the processor. Microsoft are allowing .NET managed code only. Don't expect Angry Birds too quickly and probably don't expect a port of the Unreal Engine at all.

4
0

This post has been deleted by a moderator

AMD gases up Bulldozers for Intel push back

ThomH
Silver badge

Not sure what you mean about GPU architecture

"It just boggles the mind that GPU architecture is still in the sub 1 Ghz, single core days of yore."

I'm not sure where you're getting your information from — to the extent that anybody cares about clock speeds, GPUs exceeded 1 Ghz a long time ago, and they're all in the hundreds of cores nowadays. The top of the range workstation GPUs from NVidia (such as the Tesla C2070) have 448 cores, and those, like those on the consumer cards, are fully programmable in various C-like languages such as CUDA and OpenCL.

So I genuinely think I must have misunderstood your comment.

0
0

Facebook HipHop serves 70% more traffic on same hardware

ThomH
Silver badge

@AC 09:39

"If you write efficient code, then it'll run pretty much just as fast on .NET as native, because after JIT compilation kicks in the first time it'll be compiled to native code and optimised just as efficiently as a native compilter anyway."

An ahead-of-time compiler can take as long as it wants to compile code. So it can apply some very computationally expensive algorithms to try to seek out optimisations. It can analyse as much or as little of the program as it wants to make optimisations.

A just-in-time compiler is designed to do a lot better than interpreting, but doing things quickly is still a concern. So they tend to apply only simple-to-compute optimisations, and don't generally get an opportunity to look at the whole program in overview.

In practical terms, just-in-time compiled stuff usually ends up being in broadly the same ballpark as the precompiled stuff (both being several orders of magnitude better than anything interpreted), but it's false to label it "just as fast". As noted by other commenters, if just-in-time costs you even just 5% of performance then that can amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in a year for an operation the size of Facebook.

2
1

Google 'clamps down' on world of Android partners

ThomH
Silver badge

You don't think WP7 is a result?

While much of the onerous stuff resulting from the judgment vanished almost immediately upon the change of US president, I tend to think that making it much harder to deny that Microsoft had damaged the industry set the stage for their decade of failure to succeed in new markets (the Xbox being the only exception). It's not just because of products like the Zune, out of date almost immediately upon release (as a regular iPod clone just before the iPod Touch came out), but also Windows Mobile - which was around a long time before the iPhone-inspired smartphone boom but failed to gain any traction. I think a contributor to that was an industry consciously resisting a manufacturer with an antitrust track record and consumers being similarly wary of a tarnished brand.

0
2
ThomH
Silver badge

Ummm, not quite right

The main groups that have continuously shouted about Android being open and that being one of the reasons why it is better are (i) Google; and (ii) a particular, vocal segment of Android users. It's those that support Android that have conflated openness and a bunch of other issues, not those that seek to detract from it.

I agree that the conflation is unhelpful and often misguided. I strongly disagree that it is mainly the product of "those with an axe to grind".

2
1

Tesla Motors sues BBC for defamation

ThomH
Silver badge

So that leaves just me...

... who is perfectly willing to believe that the presenters of Top Gear may have libelled Tesla (though, equally, they may not have done, I don't know) and willing to admit that he doesn't find the programme entertaining at all? I always find their little conversations to be laboriously over rehearsed. I mean, not on the Master Chef level — they're well above that sort of stuff — but so as to make the 'wit' very hard to enjoy.

Thus concludes my highly irrelevant and completely personal opinion.

2
1

Google's 'clean' Linux headers: Are they really that dirty?

ThomH
Silver badge

Come on, be fair

The piece clearly isn't an op ed, and gives both sides of the story. All of the reasons you give for it being a spent story are within the article - there's no convenient ignorance of facts and no endorsement of either side of the argument. The reported has even put allegations of bias to one of the main actors, Nimmer, and gone with a headline that suggests the story is no big deal.

It's not bad reporting to say "this person prominently says this, the facts are these" just because the facts are more subtle that the person contends.

4
0

Steve Jobs vindicated: Google Android is not open

ThomH
Silver badge

@AC 04:45 GMT, AC 13:22 GMT

@04:45: I'm not sure you've understood my point. Or, more probably, I haven't understood yours. I was trying to make it clear how little most people care whether Android is open source. Whether an OS is open source is a completely unrelated issue to whether it has an open market in applications, Microsoft Windows being the obvious evidence — it has the most diverse market possible and not one jot of it is open.

@13:22: your post has no basis in reality. It's a simple troll. Nobody is bickering about Android 3.0 not yet being open source, it's a simple fact. Quite a lot of people, like me, are pointing out that it doesn't matter in the slightest. You're also wrong to state that Apple's market share is shrinking, as it's still growing, and growing faster than the market as a whole. However, it's growing substantially less quickly than Android definitely did during 2010 and probably still is, and Android shipments were ahead of iOS shipments if you restrict numbers to phones only.

Again, all facts. But this is the Internet, so I'm sure you can find someone who will take your bait.

3
2
ThomH
Silver badge

@mmm mmm

It's nothing like a poor troll. The point isn't that Android is worse than iOS because it's not open, it's that Google are wrong to say it's open because it's demonstrably not according to their own test. And promising it will be again in the future isn't the same.

To be honest, I think that anybody that relies on "it's open" as the cornerstone of their advocacy for a consumer-facing embedded operating system has already lost the argument. To advocate Android you should focus on the free market in applications, the price and the diversity of devices, none of which this article disputes and none of which are affected by the news it covers.

17
2

Apple Mac OS X: ten years old today

ThomH
Silver badge

Could be because it's not important to the story

The story: a sea change in the OS offering from Apple, and all the user-facing changes it brought. Your allegation: it doesn't go into the internals, so obviously it's delusional. Have you ever heard of confirmation bias?

There are a bunch of different bits of underlying technology in OS X. Some of them are Apple originated, some of them aren't. None of them are particularly relevant.

2
2

Apple should grant TV makers licence to stream

ThomH
Silver badge

I don't see the problem

It's just competition in the marketplace, and DLNA isn't actually supported by very many devices. Competition is how we run our capitalist societies. I vote: let Apple license their proprietary solution, let the market decide. If, as you seem to imply, it has already decided then there seems to be little damage that Apple can possibly do.

1
1

Channel VAT loophole shrunk, not shut

ThomH
Silver badge

That's not my interpretation

It sounds to me like all they want is more straightforward legislation. I guess the problem is that English courts tend to give exact literal meanings to legislation and will apply a purposive reading only in extreme cases. Though that's quite a good thing if you're trying to avoid politicising the judiciary, so it cuts both ways.

1
0

New movie gives Yuri Gagarin's view of historic 1961 mission

ThomH
Silver badge

You've obviously not seen the modern style of documentary film

It'll be 30 minutes of someone looking solemn, while walking in crowds, telling us we're about to see the recreated flight and that seeing it will be the single most important thing that happens to us in our entire lives, then some out of focus shots of someone that looks a bit like Gagarin sitting on a bed or looking in a book or something like that, then some talking heads from the world of light entertainment to tell us why the space flight was so incredibly important and — most significantly — how it affected pop culture, then some out of focus shots of someone that looks a bit like JFK looking sad, intercut with someone that looks a little like Khrushchev beating his shoe on a table, maybe 30 seconds of the recreated flight cut to new age music which primarily focuses on the man who looks a bit like Gagarin doing out of focus reaction shots, then 30 minutes being told that seeing that was the single most important thing that will happen to us in our entire lives.

Cynical? Me?

16
3

Firefox 4 debuts: The last kitchen sink release

ThomH
Silver badge

Nope, it's Intel only

I can't imagine why, given that the codebase doesn't otherwise have Intel dependencies per the evidence of Linux support, but according to http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/system-requirements.html it's 10.5 or 10.6, Intel only.

1
0

Samsung intros 'skinnier than iPad 2' tablets

ThomH
Silver badge

Ummm, I don't think so

US iPad 2 entry price: $499. New Samsung 10.1 entry price: $499. The probability of the two not being identically priced here is pretty much zero.

3
3

Microsoft+IE9: Holier than Apple open web convert?

ThomH
Silver badge

@Psymon

I think you're wrong about OpenGL, and WebGL.

WebGL does something quite different from previous attempts at 3d in the browser: it exposes a GPU-oriented, programmable API to Javascript, allowing content to be rendered to a suitable canvas. If you look at everything else, back to VRML, they tend to be about defining a 3d data file format that the browser or plug-in knows how to draw and adding hooks to control the parameters affecting rendering into ActionScript or whatever.

The industry remains unable to standardise on a 3d file format for a variety of technical reasons. So standards usually fail to gain momentum. The industry standardised a long time ago on the best ways to talk to a GPU, and building it on top of canvas means they're extending something that has already found traction rather than trying to do a completely new thing.

It is also false to argue that OpenGL has been languishing for some time. DirectX is more popular because driver support is better on Windows (partly because drivers are easier to write; it's only very recently that they've been willing to deprecate anything in the OpenGL spec) and it makes it trivial to port to Xbox. It's purely a money decision. Both APIs fully expose everything the GPU can do and the GPU is fully programmable, so they're basically equivalent.

WebGL actually descends from GL ES 2.0, which cuts out all of the fixed pipeline legacy stuff, explicitly to be simple, straightforward and modern. GL ES 2.0 is a total of 109 function calls, using which you can upload any data you want to the GPU and supply vertex and fragment shaders to do whatever you want. As it's for embedded systems (where nobody supports them), there are no geometry shaders yet. Go to Google Images and check out Epic Citadel and/or Infinity Blade to see what real products are being released based upon it.

To be honest though, graphics APIs as the route to hardware are probably just about done. It'll be GPGPU where major advances are made, which means OpenCL (not part of OpenGL, but designed to work well with it) on the Kronos side, DirectCompute (part of DirectX) on the Microsoft side.

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

@AndrueC

I did just say that I think it's a matter of what you're accustomed to. So that's at least one person who likes anti-aliased, loosely or not-at-all hinted subpixel rendering acknowledging that others may not.

I think the wider attitude comes from the historical perspective. The unique corner that Microsoft have boxed themselves into on font hinting was a result of wanting to make vector fonts look like bitmap fonts at low pixel densities. So it's a historical anomaly. Pixel densities are much higher now than they were when Microsoft made that decision and are getting higher every year. So in a few years, everyone's going to be happy anyway — when you can no longer see the anti-aliasing you'll be happy, right?

Supporting aggressive hinting has the technical problem of introducing unpredictable text lengths. For example, the letter 'n' might end up being 4.5 pixels on your screen. If you aggressively hint that, it turns into either 4 or 5 pixels. If you print, say, 80 of them (ie, a normal sort of length of text), you've introduced 40 pixels error, one way or the other. But that's only on your screen; if the option is present and somebody else has set to respect font shapes then they don't get the 40 pixels error. And if the GUI is scaleable and someone else has aggressive font hinting on, they can get anything from 0 to 40 pixels of error.

As a result of that, it becomes very difficult to lay out your GUI in a designed fashion, using the same concepts and tools as designers like to use for the page or within Photoshop or anywhere else. So designers don't like it and tend to produce worse results. And in an increasingly design-oriented industry, you need to keep your designers happy.

Therefore, the real logic is push subpixel now, significantly ease design tasks (especially when specifying new layout technologies, like WPF and I'll wager Direct2D), in a few years everyone will be happy in any case. To extend that to alleging that anybody who likes aggressive hinting is obviously a kook is obviously an unsafe way to proceed, but I think it explains why companies like Microsoft can't just offer the option, and why the default position is to find some reason not to offer support.

2
0
ThomH
Silver badge

I don't think that's ClearType

ClearType still aggressively hints, giving that uniquely Microsoft look of primarily spindly horizontals and verticals, with some 45 degree diagonals. The way they display fonts normally is so far from how they print that they actually commissioned special fonts to solve the problem (see, e.g. Calibri, which is the default in Word as of Office 2007).

For the new browser they appear to have taken a step towards matching the way a font appears on paper, on signs, on computers from other manufacturers, etc, and away from avoiding all subpixel considerations at all costs. Which I think is the direction WPF went in quite a while ago, and is something they've received a lot of praise for in Windows Phone 7.

I'm a fan, but then I normally use one of those computers from another manufacturer and I think a lot of it is just what you're accustomed to expect.

1
0
ThomH
Silver badge

Standardised comment

Expect the same from a hundred more: Apple hasn't disabled JIT for anything, as it was never available in the first place. It simply failed to make it work across the entire operating system in a release that had to be ready for a highly visible hardware launch.

That aside, Microsoft's conversion is difficult to take at face value because of their history, but hard to find fault with. My feeling is that they want to be able to compete away from the desktop, so needed a reasonably modern browser they could port to everywhere. It's also probably safe to assume at this point that they'll retain the desktop for as long as it persists, so that's not so much of a concern. This is Microsoft finally looking to the future.

2
0

Amazon is best hope of a viable alternative to iPad

ThomH
Silver badge

It's because all business has risks

The simple unequivocal existence of a risk doesn't in itself justify withdrawing from a market. Decisions are made by looking at the expected gain, which includes allowances for all the risks.

So: it's a straightforward decision for someone like Amazon; probable gain is great and they've the clout to minimise the risk of rejections. It's also quite simple for amateur games writers, since the risk of rejection is tiny and the potential gain is great, even if extremely unlikely.

In practise, the probability of being rejected adds only very slightly to the probability of your work making no income. It's just that "Apple rejects perfectly reasonable app; aren't they a bit controlling?" is much more interesting than "App is released; nobody uses it".

0
0

Apple handcuffs 'open' web apps on iPhone home screen

ThomH
Silver badge

@LM, coward

I believe the US Department of Justice are already looking into the area. There's some suggestion from the usual quarters that connections between Google and the current administration may have helped expedite the issue, but absolutely no suggestion that the investigations will be influenced in any way.

The problem is that they wouldn't actually be leveraging their iTunes monopoly. To find competition infringements, authorities will need to establish that Apple have and are using a dominant position in one market to distort competition in another. In this case that'd be a dominant position in app vending to distort various subscription models. I actually think there's a good chance because Google aren't the only app vendor for Android so pure Android sales numbers aren't the question and iOS people tend to spend more on apps anyway. Apple's subscription rule limits what those offering subscriptions can do about passing Apple's 30% on to the consumer and thereby seems to distort the market.

That all being said, I maintain that Apple think they can use their current position — for as long as it lasts — to gauge subscription vendors, not that they're intending to keep down competitors.

Most likely outcome is the same as the Javascript, C, C++ or Objective-C clause; competition regulators will visibly sniff around, Apple will climb down before it gets to anything formal.

0
1
ThomH
Silver badge

@Logos

Yes, everything other than Safari is crippled in the sense that under iOS 4.3 it runs only exactly as fast as it did under iOS 4.2.

3
1
ThomH
Silver badge

@bazza

It can be something other than deliberate because the faster javascript engine is new to iOS 4.3. Being new code, no matter how well tested, there's a possibility it introduces obscure bugs in edge cases. They've therefore likely followed their standard iOS procedure and kept a copy of the older version, to ensure that apps linked and tested against the older behaviours aren't inadvertently broken. So they'll have two javascript engines around for as long as they support iOS 4.2 as a deployment target for things on the app store. At present they support back to iOS 3.0.

It's also nothing to do with http versus file. If you read the article, you'll see that web apps no longer appear to be cached locally. So both routes are http. The distinction seems to be between UIWebViews, used everywhere except Safari, and Safari. Their browser is a lot faster than web content displayed everywhere else.

It's more than possible that they want to get a significant amount of field testing done for free by incorporating the new engine into Safari. When they're sure it works properly, they'll put it into the standard web component used throughout the OS.

5
0
ThomH
Silver badge

@Raumkraut

Apple have never denied they were working on a tablet or slate. They never confirm or deny their plans in advance.

As a result of that, I agree that they very often have plans they haven't discussed and that we can't conclude with certainty that the SDK wasn't a plan at initial launch. But it's wrong to impute dishonesty.

Conversely, in response to the original poster, half a decade of maintaining a bridge between their native APIs and Java and citing Java as an on-the-box feature, then half a decade of maintaining it internally at their own cost, then a collaborative effort to transfer maintenance to the same people that maintain Java on Windows — including providing source code and documentation — suggests they probably don't despise Java.

1
3
ThomH
Silver badge

@Lewis Mettier

Are you some sort of robot, posting your identikit comment to every Apple story that appears?

There are no grounds whatsoever from which you can conclude that Apple's 30% charge on subscriptions is an attempt to deceive customers. You've taken one wrong and used it to allege a completely unrelated offence.

1
3

Apple MacBook Pro 15in

ThomH
Silver badge

There's no such thing as a "proper" UK keyboard

You're thinking of the de facto IBM PC layout. Apple's UK keyboards remain as they have been since time immemorial, with £ on the '3', @ on the '2', quote and double quote combined on a key, etc.

Mac keyboards have an extra modifier or two, a few other extra keys including eject, don't bother with home/end, page down/page up (all of which are achieved with modifier + arrows), and tend to be more willing to hide the function keys since they're not really used for anything in OS X. So, sure, they could swap a couple of keys around and be closer to the IBM PC layout but they're not in a position to adopt it wholesale.

1
0

App Store not invited to web's date with destiny

ThomH
Silver badge

@Lewis Mettier

Your central thesis that "Apple customers would see how expensive Apple products and services are" if the App Store were optional for application acquisition doesn't seem to stand up to muster on the following grounds:

Yes, Apple keep 30% of the price of every application sold. But so do Google, and so do most other companies. So, life outside the walled garden (as in, completely outside — hardware and software) seems to have a similar cost, to the extent that Apple's main mobile ecosystem competitor charges the same amount without a walled garden.

The Internet remain free to access. Apple customers continue to buy Apple products even though they can presumably tell the cost difference between walking around with an Android/Blackberry/Bada/Symbian/whatever and pulling that out to check email and look at the web versus walking around with an iPhone and pulling that out to check email and look at the web.

It would therefore seem to me that (i) the costs for services are in line with the rest of the market; and (ii) in any case, they're not obscuring the cost of products.

Apple's subscription play (especially the requirement that the best price offered elsewhere also be available in app but if bought by that route will yield 30% to Apple) is likely anticompetitive but it's not designed to affect the perception of consumers and doesn't have that effect.

0
0

Tesco heralds 2011 as YEAR OF ANDROID

ThomH
Silver badge

@DrXym: it's not just features

It's brand positioning; the low cost Android phones push the idea that the Android brand is for everyone, whereas Apple prefer to promote the iPhone as for the creative elite. You know, just in terms of the message they'd have you take from their advertising.

Re: the article proper, I was under the impression that 2010 had been the year of Android and that, across the whole market, Android phones were outselling iPhones already. So it's a bit surprising that Tesco have only just caught up.

I don't buy that it's a Risk-style game of world domination where the one with the bigger numbers inevitably makes the position of the one with the smaller numbers untenable or that bigger numbers is a mark of better quality so I'd label this news as interesting but unlikely to be influential upon me.

0
0

Steve Jobs bends iPad price reality

ThomH
Silver badge

@Lewis Mettier

You appear not to have understood Apple's rules on subscriptions. You're correct that they take 30%. However, they also dictate that subscriptions bought on a separate device or via the browser can be transferrable without Apple taking any cut and that the cheapest price available elsewhere must also be available within the app.

Summary: if a subscription is available via an iOS app, it will be the same price as everywhere else.

The required 30% cut and the inability to pass it on to the consumer is why so many companies are up in arms about the current subscription pricing. The only potential consequence for consumers is that third party companies may abandon the platform. That's a valid concern, but the response is sort of obvious: if companies start to depart en masse then Apple can simply change their rules, while they have the vast majority of the market it's unlikely anyone will depart making it currently not an issue in practice.

2
0

Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

ThomH
Silver badge

@Peter Gathercole

Surely the 6502 takes two cycles to do the most basic operations, in practical terms? It's one cycle to read in the op code, and then a second to perform the thing. I think part of the reason the 6502 gets a bum rap in general is that it accesses RAM every single cycle, whether it needs to or not (or, if you prefer, doesn't properly indicate its intent), whereas the z80 accesses RAM only as required — and that tends to be more infrequent due to the more complicated instruction set.

So as soon as you put a 6502 into a system where RAM is clocked at a similar speed to the CPU but shared with video circuitry, it gets seriously hobbled. Comparing the Electron to the slightly later Amstrad CPC is instructive: the former hands at least 50% of its RAM cycles to the video circuits, causing the CPU to run at half rated speed; the latter hands 75% of its RAM cycles to the video circuits but the CPU continues to run at (per empirical observations, usually passed around as a rule of thumb) around 82% of its rated speed.

Obviously the BBC Micro gets around that by coupling a 2Mhz CPU to 4Mhz RAM, interleaving video and processor accesses, so it's not a relevant concern. I just think it's something that likely affected the tone of the debate.

The real proof is in the pudding. Elite is clearly faster on the BBC than the ZX Spectrum, but that's partly because the Spectrum does a software frame copy, lacking page flipping in the 48k machine. I, Of the Mask, Starstrike 2 and Carrier Command (asll solid 3d polygon pushers with good real time frame rates) on the Spectrum side are probably more impressive than Revs on the BBC, but the market was so much larger and most of those Spectrum titles are sufficiently later that they're probably as much a result of the greater amount of interested talent and various lessons already learnt.

0
0

Crime UK site gets 400m hits, drives down property values

ThomH
Silver badge

But did you treat it as a comparative exercise?

The site improved my opinion of several areas.

Looking at the reported numbers around my current residence and my former residences, and on streets and areas that I have my own opinion about near my current and former residences gave me a pretty good idea of how good the numbers are. On several occasions, my pessimistic guesses about places were debunked; I find it hard to believe there's much underreporting on there so much lower than expected numbers made me feel more confident about some places I might otherwise have sought to avoid.

That was just at the deciding what to view stage, though. I've used tried and trusted "have a walk around" method on anything I've actually looked at.

0
0

Patent attack on Google open codec faces 'antitrust probe'

ThomH
Silver badge

@Keith Williams

Sorry. Obviously: "a method for displaying video on a screen", which describes the idea of having the image for each frame of video within a memory area and transmitting it to a screen via an electric cable, and "a method for encoding video such as for transmission via the Internet", which covers one device sending another video data in sequential order so that it can be played.

After all, Net2Phone obtained a patent in 2000 on "point-to-point internet protocols" ("A point-to-point Internet protocol exchanges Internet Protocol (IP) addresses between processing units to establish a point-to-point communication link between the processing units through the Internet"; source: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6,108,704.PN.&OS=PN/6,108,704&RS=PN/6,108,704).

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

@AC

Legally it's not that simple. Patents are a government granted monopoly over the ideas they contain. The simple act of having patents and of asserting patents is not (legally) anticompetitive, but the grant of them is explicitly a barrier to entry in that it prevent other people from using your intellectual property in the marketplace completely without you.

Based on the wording of the article, this sounds like it is more about the tubthumping. Since MPEG-LA don't yet assert to have any members with patents that use of WebM would infringe, the running around trying to create an atmosphere of doubt may be anticompetitive. If they find patents that cover WebM then it probably isn't.

In short: it's not the simple presence of barriers, it's whether those barriers are the ones the state likes to provide.

Add me to the list of people calling for patent reform, as I strongly suspect that WebM will be covered by MPEG-LA member patents when someone turns in their patent for "displaying video on a screen" or "encoding video such as for transmission via the Internet" or some such.

4
0

iPad 2? Let's be kind and call it iPad 1.5

ThomH
Silver badge

@Dimitri

- amongst others, Spotify can continuously stream music; streaming and playing audio from the background is one of the specific types of multitasking Apple explicitly wanted to allow. A direct quote from their documentation: "Applications that play audio can include the UIBackgroundModes key (with the audio value) in their Info.plist file to register as a background-audio application. This key is intended for use by applications that provide audible content to the user while in the background, such as music player or streaming-audio applications. When this key is present, the system’s audio frameworks automatically prevent your application from being suspended when it moves to the background."

- "Any time before it is suspended, an application can call the beginBackgroundTaskWithExpirationHandler: method to ask the system for extra time to complete some long-running task in the background. If the request is granted, and if the application goes into the background while the task is in progress, the system lets the application run for an additional amount of time instead of suspending it." That's how a well-written browser can continue downloading files when in the background.

- there's an execution mode, designed with VoIP clients directly in mind, that allows a piece of software to connect itself to a socket and subsequently wake on demand. That's how a file store-type application could accept and transmit files without having to be kept in the foreground.

- I'm counting this as the same problem as the file stores on a technical level, though I appreciate it much better demonstrates how the alleged deficiency can directly a task that's an upfront promoted feature and a reason that non-technical people will possibly buy the device, whether rightly or wrongly.

So: yes, the request to continue arbitrary task processing may be denied. Yes, the best support is for event based tasks, and it's a simple fact that the number of permissible event hooks is small.

No, that doesn't mean that multitasking isn't supported, or that it isn't 'real' multitasking. Multiple tasks can run, simultaneously. That's multitasking. Your complaint, taking it at its strongest, is that Apple will sanction only certain types of multitasking, which cuts to issues of approval and control rather than technical software issues.

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

@bolccg

It would therefore appear you plugged in an average of five times a year, that being the iOS release average for the two years immediately following the release of the 3G. You couldn't perhaps be exaggerating, could you?

I'm not one to claim that Apple's kit "just works". But I do think the Mac is the only device that properly talks to the outside world in terms of file formats. The iPod, iPad and iPhone seem to be very iTunes dependent. Suffice to say, if you'd kept all your media in the formats Apple supports (which are all standards from other industry bodies, so not proprietary — they've just been selectively chosen), in iTunes, then the autosyncing is a great boon. It turns a common manual task into an automatic one and makes moving between devices immeasurably easier. However, that comes at the cost of, as you found, about a million hours more work if you've decided e.g. that WMV and OGG are the things for you.

There's not really an extra step because the assumption is that you're already using iTunes. So you already have your favourites in playlists.

So I'll say that it works very, very well if you stick to the rules. I won't say that it "just works".

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

@Tim Parker

The camera accessory kit includes an SD card reader. You can use it to transfer photographs directly onto the iPad without a computer in between. So it's not crazy to think they may use that route for importing video too, especially as they're seeming to want to pitch the device as something creatives can use out in the field.

0
1
ThomH
Silver badge

@Dimitri

You've obviously got broken software. Multitasking is extended to third party applications, in much the same way as it is in WebOS, which appears to have been the model.

While it's always possible to pick apart the specs, and find something to claim a distinction on, no objective definition of multitasking would exclude what third party software can do on the iPad.

1
3

Steve Jobs unveils iPad 2

ThomH
Silver badge

@ElReg!comments!Pierre

The developer programme — giving access to the App Store, amongst other things — does indeed cost US$100/year and is a direct charge to the developer. So it's probably a safe assumption that they've collected US$1bn though that route, that being just 10,000,000 developer subscriptions worldwide.

I don't agree with you otherwise though. The user gives their money to Apple. Apple gives some money to developers. So it's definitely not the developers paying Apple per application in any legal sense. Apple handle hosting, payment processing and provide a limited amount of publicity. That's the traditional role of a shop, and claiming that developers are paying Apple because of the 30% cut is like saying that anybody with any product in any shop is paying that shop. So, even if true by the test you're applying, it doesn't sound like there's any grounds on which to single Apple out as doing something wrong.

0
1
ThomH
Silver badge

Probably worth checking your maths on that one

If you want to phrase it that way around, it should read "App Store users have now paid around $857m to Apple".

0
1

Apple fanbois leak secrets of Mac OS X Lion

ThomH
Silver badge

@Dan Wilkinson

That would make sense. The mechanism I tend to use, which I think is a defacto standard, is to get the relevant screen that the window I want to go fullscreen from is on, create a frameless window of that size and position and promote it to frontmost. That should be multi-monitor aware but doesn't always create the nicest switching behaviour. Giving us a proper way of doing it is probably sensible, but it'll be a bit odd if that's an on-the-box sort of feature.

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

@AC

I took fullscreen apps to mean frameless, game style. Which obviously are already trivially easy to produce, but so is any possible interpretation of a fullscreen application.

Obviously you're right about the zoom button.

0
0