* Posts by ThomH

2006 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

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

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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

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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)

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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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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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Sit tight, fanbois. Apple's '$400' wearable release slips into early 2015

ThomH
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Re: increasingly @AC

I've met a lot more people wearing health bands in 2013 and 2014 than I met people with MP3 players in 2000 and 2001. Yet I feel like I probably know more people who like to listen to music than I do people who want to know metrics about their health.

There's a distinction in that MP3 players were clear what's next in an evolving form whereas health bands are probably a fad, but it's still a smart market to get into. Samsung has incorporated heart rate monitors into several of its watch offerings based on the same calculus.

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ThomH
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Re: Next year is 'Apple Refresh Year' for me...

Increasingly many people wear fitness bands — the Fitbit, the Jawbone, etc. It's not completely unreasonable to think that a product from amongst those could become genuinely mainstream. Whether it'd be Apple's though, I don't know; if it's tied to the iPhone then probably not just based on marketshare. Though they were smart enough not to keep the iPod as exclusive to the Mac so hopefully they wouldn't do anything so foolish with a potential watch.

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Nokia: Read these Maps, Samsung – we're HERE for the Gear

ThomH
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Re: If they put Here into the Google Play Store

Be careful what you wish for. When they launched for iOS all we got was a hastily knocked-up web view with a reasonably unresponsive web site within it, showing content at a quarter of the resolution of the screen (i.e. non-retina content only, if you must use Apple nomenclature).

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Too slow with that iPhone refresh, Apple: Android is GOBBLING up US mobile market

ThomH
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If we look at the computer side of things, there are people that make Hackintoshes and people that buy Macs just to run Windows or Linux on them. So I assume it would cut both ways in handset-land, too.

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Apple tried to get a ban on Galaxy, judge said: NO, NO, NO

ThomH
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Re: I guess it's official.

Most people use the word incorrectly but I don't think Apple does. Per the dictionary, innovation is "[to] make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products". Notably: the changes don't have to be positive, the thing has to have been established previously.

Therefore, if anything, Apple is the most innovative company. It never creates a new market, only enters one that already exists — i.e. is "something established" — and introduces new products which tend to change the market, objectively by dint of sales numbers if nothing else.

Decide for yourself whether innovation should really the litmus test.

It's the goodwill angle that I think is more damaging. Apple has hardly done much to accumulate or preserve that lately.

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ThomH
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If anything, Apple would suffer further irreparable harm to its reputation or goodwill were it granted an injunction. At least, if further harm were possible.

Unlike most here, who can't see beyond "this post says something positive about Apple, I will down vote it" or "this post says something positive about Google, I will down vote it", I give Apple plenty of credit for both the iPod and the iPhone. Both show a detailed comprehension of what non-technical people want from technology — i.e. they want to just plug the thing into the computer and have it suck the music in, no clicks required; they want their web pages to look right and, if crammed onto a tiny screen, they want some very easy means of navigation. Both products deserved their success.

However, if you ask me to evaluate Apple as a company? Yeah, technically competent and historically marketing savvy (or, go on, you list the companies that made billions selling premium-priced UNIX computers to consumers) but now possessed of an avarice that has led them from PR blunder to PR blunder through over-deployment of the legal team.

If it were corporeal, not a person I would like to go for a drink with.

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ThomH
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Re: That leaked email

http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/news/apple-samsung-patent-truce-150286 : “Samsung and Apple have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States,” Samsung told TechWeekEurope.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/06/apple-samsung-drop-patent-lawsuits-outside-usa : "Samsung and Apple have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States," the South Korean company said in a statement.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2461940/apple-samsung-agree-to-settle-patent-disputes-outside-us.html : "Samsung and Apple have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States,” Samsung said in an emailed statement Wednesday.

http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/news/samsung-apple-agree-to-drop-patent-disputes-outside-the-us-571426?site=classic : "Samsung and Apple have agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States," Samsung said in a statement.

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ThomH
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The international lawsuits were dropped by mutual consent — both Apple and Samsung agreed — and this specific story is about an American judge disagreeing with Apple and siding with Samsung.

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Microsoft boots 1,500 dodgy apps from the Windows Store

ThomH
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Re: um

The problem then is that you daren't ever get rid of the legacy feature that 5% of people still use but which makes it much harder for the other 95% to get things done as immediately after that update you're guaranteed that the 5% will come out in force and temporarily lower your average rating.

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ThomH
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Re: Icons (@AC)

At least that would make a change from the usual Zynga/EA/Disney/everyone approach of microtransaction-enabled Skinner Boxes masquerading as games?

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Tim Cook in Applerexia fears: New MacBook THINNER THAN EVER

ThomH
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Re: less repairable / upgradeable than ever

I currently own an 11" MacBook Air. I don't see that it could be made any less repairable. I don't think a new floor will be forthcoming because I don't think one can be found.

Though the same comment goes for equivalently-priced TVs, etc...

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ThomH
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Finally a machine to replace my ZX81!

Such a new machine would demonstrate the concept of diminishing returns in two senses.

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Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins

ThomH
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Re: @VinceH (@Peter Gathercole)

The B+ was the first BBC to route the write line to the paged ROMs, wasn't it? So you'd also be unable to use sideways E00 solutions on a regular B, at least without minor motherboard modifications (i.e. finding a write line anywhere and adding a patch wire).

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ThomH
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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev @MAge

If I dare make a possibly ill-educated comment: surely the issue with moving to a new SoC would be that the existing Broadcom is an ARMv6 device whereas anything newer is probably ARMv7. Which would make maintaining binary distributions of anything more troublesome — hardly an impossible problem, but a bit more awkward. In the intended environment, it'd at least mean remembering which pile of SD cards goes with which type of board.

As to price, I imagine there may be a calculation that with ARMv8 now filtering into mobile phones, there's about to be a whole generation of ARMv7 parts that remain incredibly capable but are suddenly a lot easier to get a good deal on just because of the realities of marketing.

There's also the fact that Broadcom has provided full documentation to the Videocore IV, which isn't standard industry practice — GPU internals remain entirely proprietary — and would be very unlikely to occur with a new SoC. So that would introduce a new round of binary blobs and impediments to the bare metal programmers.

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Honey, I shrunk the workstation … into a Chromebook

ThomH
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Re: opengl over X?

It's not just X. From the OpenGL specification (every single version that I checked, including 1.x and 4.x):

The model for interpretation of GL commands is client-server. That is, a program (the client) issues commands, and these commands are interpreted and processed by the GL (the server). The server may or may not operate on the same computer as the client. In this sense, the GL is “network-transparent.”

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6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)

ThomH
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Re: "cancer ruining internet journalism" (@Bill Gray)

The difference being that only one of those is a chore?

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ThomH
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Re: "cancer ruining internet journalism"

Yes, I know. That US English doesn't require a hyphen and that there's no symbol for separation — an anti-hyphen of some sort — is from where the amusing ambiguity springs. So it can, correctly, be read both ways.

Were it British English that would not be the case. Were it hyphenated it would mean the wrong thing.

The empirical evidence is that not everyone finds the second meaning humorous but it's a valid parsing regardless. The further evidence is that despite my comment about ambiguity being entirely clear to my eyes, you somehow took it to mean the exact opposite. Hopefully someone can at least enjoy the irony of my failure there.

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ThomH
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"cancer ruining internet journalism"

I don't know about everybody else but internet journalism has really ruined cancer for me. I haven't been able to think about it in the same light for a while.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must learn about the ten alkaline batteries to try before you die.

(EDIT: yes, pedants, I know, but compound adjectives aren't always hyphenated in US English — even formal US English — and the author is based in the San Francisco office)

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Show Mother Russia you love her: Click HERE and AHHH NYET!

ThomH
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Re: Oh, OK that's fine

This is your area of expertise though. Would you be confident enough to claim you've never done anything that an expert in some other topic wouldn't consider equivalently dense in the handling of some other area of your life?

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Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery

ThomH
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Re: @Lost all faith... (@Gene Cash; @Mike Bell)

@Gene Cash: Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to see the view that allows you to control Bluetooth and Wifi state (and aeroplane mode, screen brightness and a bunch of other things that aren't directly relevant to battery life).

As it isn't called a 'widget' that obviously means that the iPhone is some sort of failure as a device.

@Mike Bell: the really annoying thing is that if you have Wifi switched off then every location-aware program will show a modal pop-up insisting that it isn't going to be able to do a very good job because it has only GPS to use. Every time you launch them. But that's an interface failing, not a battery-life issue.

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ThomH
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@Lost all faith...

Some things, like Bluetooth, can be turned off without affecting a large proportion of users. Naturally it turns itself on again with every software update. I half-wonder whether it's the desire to persuade somebody, somewhere that iBeacons are a good idea: the better the stats for people walking around with Bluetooth on, the more relevant they sound, right? They're otherwise about as popular as Ping.

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Bright lights, affordable motor: Ford puts LED headlights onto Mondeo

ThomH
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Re: Daytime running lights

If we're talking about just the transition period then there's also the retroactive interference issue: a responsible person who is otherwise a very good driver recently visited us here in the US and was pulled over for driving in the evening without his headlights on. As you've guessed, it's because his car at home is automated but his rental wasn't.

He'd even complained just a few minutes earlier that he was having difficulty seeing anything, without the penny dropping...

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So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL

ThomH
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Re: Innovation...?

Chromebooks have a lot of uses. Amongst those peers that we, commenters on a tech news site, discuss tech purchases with they're almost certainly just for use as something other than a Chromebook.

One anecdote: I know a teacher who has recently kitted out her entire classroom with them. All her students need is access to certain web-based educational resources. They're the easiest to administer and cheapest to buy (safely*), reasonably large thing with a keyboard that doesn't end up tied to any particular desk and can do that.

(* Android laptops seeming to require a gamble with the supplier, being overwhelmingly obscure off-brand imports)

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ThomH
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Re: Oh no

Ye standard Aston Martin retort: nobody has to make petrol specifically for Aston Martins. They just work on the same petrol as the £10k cars. Somebody has to make apps specifically for iOS. iPhones/etc don't just work on the same apps as sub-£100 mobile phones.

Which isn't a perfect analogy because petrol is somewhat more fundamental to cars than apps are to mobile phones given that they're probably used just as much for the web, for photography and for texting, but apps are definitely used more often than oil is put into a car, etc, so forgive me?

That being said, I'll consider Apple to be in serious trouble when the market stops supplying apps for iOS as abundantly as it does for Android. If, say, the iOS Facebook app (no, I don't use it; yes, it's the most popular app) started lagging the Android version by a year or two then I'd be likely to think that Mac-level relevance was pending.

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Silicon Valley jolted by magnitude 6.1 quake – its biggest in 25 years

ThomH
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Slept through it

I am to earthquakes as many are to silicon valley "innovation".

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AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else

ThomH
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Sorry, what's it thirty years of?

Video games are older than 40; AMD is 55; AMD first forays into IBM PC world were 32 years ago; its first reverse-engineered CPU is now 23; its first fully internally-designed is 18. Meanwhile ATI won't be 30 until next year, having been founded in 1985.

If they're just doing ATI a little early, do this year's products justify that? I feel like I'm being thick and failing to think of something.

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iPhone owners EARN MORE THAN YOU, says mobile report

ThomH
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I'm sure Silicon Valley is skewing it

Salaries here being absurd and iPhones being abundant.

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Pedals and wheel in that Google robo-car or it's off the road – Cali DMV

ThomH
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Re: Not such a big deal

One of the more surprising things is that car (/auto) insurance seems to be a lot cheaper here in the US _despite_ also needing to include the medical bills of anyone you hit per their lack of nationalised healthcare. I doubt that $5m of insurance will cost more than a few hundred dollars a month, especially if these cars really are much less likely to have accidents.

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

ThomH
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Re: Apple Macbooks

Replying to myself on the reliability issue, having tried to source more objective numbers...

Per Squaretrade — http://www.squaretrade.com/htm/pdf/SquareTrade_laptop_reliability_1109.pdf — an insurance company that you might expect to want to amplify total numbers but that probably has no reason to be disingenuous about the manufacturer spread, 17.4% of Apple laptops fail within the first three years. The industry best was Asus at 15.6%, worst was HP at 25.6%.

So the worst big supplier produces machines that are 24% more likely to break than Apple and 64% more likely than the best. Apple's are only 11% more likely to break than the best.

Apple is also beaten by Toshiba and Sony but it's objectively amongst the good build quality guys.

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ThomH
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Re: Apple Macbooks

For certain niche professions, it's a huge benefit that Thunderbolt exposes full-speed PCIe to outside lets you add arbitrary expansion devices when docked. E.g. Sonnet sell a box that lets you attach a regular PCIe card. I'm told it's quite the thing for pro audio.

For the rest of us? The build quality is usually good*, the battery life usually superb.

* no, your three anecdotes plus the times it has actually been newsworthy because the build quality wasn't good don't disprove that assertion. Though my anecdote doesn't exactly prove it either...

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YES YES YES! Apple patents mousy, pressure-sensing iVibrator

ThomH
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Re: It's that featureless mouse thing again! (@Stoneshop)

It shows up the first time you pair the mouse with the computer. Automatically. No interaction required.

Which, yes, is like those annoying applications that force you through a tutorial because they're insufficiently easy to figure out.

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