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* Posts by Dave 126

3895 posts • joined 21 Jul 2010

Office 365 goes to work on an Android

Dave 126
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Re: Office suites on Android (or iOS)?

>The LAST thing I want to do is word processing or spreadsheets on my Android phone or tablet.

If I'm just entering text (with a view to editing and formatting it later when I'm back at a 'proper' computer), then the size of any screen or choice of OS isn't that important to me... I just want a compact device + keyboard so that I can type. This need could probably be fulfilled with a keyboard, a keylogger, an Altoids tin and a battery...

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Dave 126
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Related topic...

Would The Register consider a 'Top Ten Bluetooth keyboards' type article? Ta!

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WHY do phone cams turn me into a clumsy twat with dexterity of an elephant?

Dave 126
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Possible solution...

might be for cameras to allow 'bracketing' of more parameters. A lot of dedicated digital cameras allow this for exposure, but it would be handy if it could be extended to ISO and focus as well, as examples. Obviously this would result in several images being stored for every press of the shutter button, but it would allow the photographer to select the best image at their leisure after the fact, instead of fumbling with the controls at the time.

The downside would be that you might not capture a specific moment (but then phone cameras are useless at that anyway), and also your storage would be used up more quickly (but then that isn't so much of a worry these days).

There are other tricks that are used in some digital cameras, such as the pre-buffering in some Nikons - photos are captured from several seconds before the shutter button is pressed. One assumes that this comes at the cost of draining the battery more quickly.

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First look: Apple iPhone 5S and 5C

Dave 126
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Re: Remember that...

>Guess they could add a second camera on the back for 3D - but do many people actually care about that?

Not enough people care to build it into the phone. Those people who want that feature can add some extra hardware to the phone - there are plans for a Kinect-style 3D scanner for Apple and Android devices. Similarly, not everyone cares about being able to record high quality audio (though journalists and musicians might), but there are clip-on condenser-microphones available for those who want them.

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THE TRUTH about beaver arse milk in your cakes: There's nothing vanilla about vanilla

Dave 126
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Re: Luwak coffee - a question

Hehe, 'Poo' would be a suitable (if not commercially viable) name for a Twitter-like 'social media' service. My reasoning is that many animals use pee or poo to get messages out to their peers they are not currently in the presence of. If of you want to take this idea and turn it into a multi-billion dollar company, I only ask a 1% cut... I'll even throw in some tag-lines to get you started:

"Why say it when you can spray it?"

"Putting the Pee into people"

"Poople"

Of course, humans would want to expand the vocabulary of the medium beyond the three messages favoured by many mammals, ie "This is MINE!", "I'm feeling HORNY!" and "I have an interesting bowel condition". Or there again, that's enough to cover much of the human condition.

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Google fluffs DEATH DEFEATING startup Calico

Dave 126
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>humans are not ready for immortality.

Though not dealing with the impact of an entire species/culture becoming immortal (and yeah, we'd quickly run out of planet, so would have to give thought as to arranging matter and energy in our solar system...) this modest film is rather good:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0756683/ 'The Man from Earth'.

It is delivered in the manner of a drawing room drama amongst college professors, and relies on dialogue rather special effects.

If you want some explosions, robots, lasers and Jodie Foster in a film that touches on the divide between the long-lived disease-free ultra-rich and the wretched masses, then 'Elysium' in is cinemas now.

Previous sci-fi form would be Asimov's 'The Caves of Steel', and its sequel 'The Naked Sun'.

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Open source Android fork Cyanogen becomes $7m company

Dave 126
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Re: Also...

I won't take your bet, because it is too difficult to referee:

"CyanogenMod, the company’s free open-source replacement firmware, has more than 8 million users, CEO Kirt McMaster says. But that counts only users who have elected to share data with Cyanogen, he says, estimating that the true number is two to three times that amount. "

-http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/18/4742828/cyanogen-raises-7-million-to-build-the-best-version-of-android

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Life … moves … in … slow … motion … for … little … critters … like … flies

Dave 126
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Re: Kids are faster

I dunno, I've seen six year olds complete Sonic the Hedgehog in a time I could never hope to beat (I was twelve at the time) /anecdotal

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Dave 126
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Without being an expert, this new research attempts to get some quantitative evidence, whereas that documentary you saw was based on the valid observation "don't them buggers move quick".

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Dog bites man: Apple's Macs trounce all Windows PCs in customer love

Dave 126
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Re: Hmmm...

>who wants to admit that they bought a turd

There are plenty of other empirical surveys that suggest that Apple Mac hardware is amongst the most reliable (on a par with a couple of Windows PC manufacturers).

"Show me [your] body [of evidence]."

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It's Grand Theft Auto 5 day: Any of you kids remember GTA the First?

Dave 126
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Re: Early LAN gaming

In the mid nineties, network cards in PCs weren't too common - and certainly not built into the motherboard as they are today. A null modem cable was a cheaper way of playing two-player Doom.

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Dave 126
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Re: Parameters

Yep! As recommended by PC Zone, I bought Nascar Racing, set my car to 'indestructible' and went the wrong way round the track. Apparently, the true purpose of the game was to sit there for fifty laps without making a mistake, but I couldn't see the fun in that...

A 'null modem cable' only made things more fun between mates.

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Dave 126
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> but I'd seen them all years before in Spectrum games,

Are you thinking of 'Super Stuntman' by Codemasters?

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Microsoft mocks Apple and new iPhones in vids it quickly pulls

Dave 126
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Re: Stones and glass buildings

Stones? Last time MS threw the Stones at a product launch was using "Start Me Up" for Windows 95...

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Dave 126
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Re: It wasn't a light hearted poke

MS should leave it to the professionals:

http://www.theonion.com/articles/apple-unveils-panicked-ideafree-man-at-launch-even,33814/

CUPERTINO, CA—At a highly anticipated press event at its Silicon Valley headquarters Tuesday afternoon, tech giant Apple officially unveiled to the public a panicked and completely idea-free man...

(Though it's not as good as The Onion's 'Macbook Wheel' with 'predictive sentence technology'!)

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Dave 126
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Re: Good god..

>Good god... As much as an M$ fan that I am, I hope to god they never decide to pen a script for a movie..

Don't worry, the (overly) MS-controlled Halo movie project was cancelled, and the attached director and producer went on to do District 9 and Elysium (Neill Blomkamp and Peter Jackson), and the writer Alex Garland, to whom MS paid a load of money for a Halo script, did Dredd 3D instead.

A pretty good outcome, methinks!

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From launch to orbit: The new commercial space pioneers

Dave 126
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>"featuring the Burt Rutan-designed, Scaled Composites-built SpaceShipTwo and its launch counterpart, "

Buzz Aldrin's above novel features a Space Tourism entrepreneur who "even gets Burt Rutan out of retirement" to design a launch system. As pictured in the novel's line-art illustrations, it resembles the Virgin Galactic's WhiteKnightTwo.

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Dave 126
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I've just halfway through reading a Sci-Fi novel, Encounter with Tiber, by some blokes called Buzz Aldrin* and John Barnes**. Published in 1996, it starts off with a problem with the Space Shuttle, and lays out how private industry develops better launch vehicles through the beginning of the 21st century- even linking it to some Silicon Valley types.

It's a fair read, though every so often a paragraph or character is used to explain the Doppler effect or a Lagrange point. It would probably appeal to fans of Arthur C Clarke.

*Yes, the astronaut

**No, not the footballer

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Nokia's 41Mp Lumia 1020 'launches' in UK - but hoi polloi must wait

Dave 126
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Re: Only one problem

As I understand it, the OTHER high end waterproof handset, the Galaxy S4 Active, doesn't have a rubber plug in the 3.5mm headphone port as the Sony does. Whilst both handsets have a plug over the microUSB port, the Sony has two external pins for charging, in the hope you pay them for an optional charging cradle (in which the phone can be configured to do the old Blackberry trick of emulating an always-on-yet-dimmed alarm clock).

Whilst some people might bemoan the lack of startling innovation in mobile phones, this maturity at least forces designers to compete by refining existing features (make it waterproof, make it easier to use etc), rather than just throwing in new ones (Samsung Galaxy eye-ball tracking, I'm looking at you).

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Dave 126
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Thanks for your responses guys. : D

Judging from what you say, and from other forums, it seems that negativity surrounding WindowsPhone is based mainly on

- People's personal frustration with past MS products, from DOS onwards.

- People's opinion of MS's business practices, a distrust of sorts,

- A fear, justified by past events such WinPho 7 handsets not upgradable to later versions a la iOS or Android (you mileage may vary), that MS may abandon your investment in a handset and ecosystem, or force some unwanted change or 'update' on you. People might not mind too much, except they don't trust MS not to bugger it up (Ribbon Interface, Metro on a laptop)

-Availability of apps... though many people don't need too many apps.

-Integration with certain online services... though not everyone uses Gmail or whatever.

-No microSD card expansion... though not all Android handsets offer this facility.

It would seem that there might be some people out there who won't really be affected by any of the above points.

+ The 'Children's Zone' seems like a good idea given how people use their phones to entertain children on long car journeys... though Android now offers multiple limited user accounts which might perform the same function.

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Dave 126
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Out of curiosity, are you put off by the actual UI, the availability of particular apps, or the online services that winPho works well with? Just asking.

I'm an Android user, but I wish WinPho well - competition is good for Android, and iOS isn't really a competitor to the whole range of Android devices.

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Dave 126
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Hehe... and if you're feeling really daft, there is the Samsung Galaxy NX, a 'compact system camera' (or EVIL -electronic viewfinder interchangeable lens) with 4G wireless connectivity. Trouble is, it cost more than a WiFi-only NX camera and a Galaxy S4 phone combined. Oh, and you can't use it as a phone.

http://www.samsungmobilepress.com/2013/06/21/GALAXY-NX-1

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Dave 126
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Re: Game over already

>With half the megapixels, the Xperia Z1 produces better, more detailed pictures in the real world according to reviews.

Which reviews? I read up on the Z1 when it was released and whilst it looks to be a damned fine handset, I don't recall any reviewers being amazed by its camera. However, the Z1 does take better pictures underwater than the Nokia, on account of the Nokia not being waterproof.

Nokia's approach takes a nice and simple approach based on the observation that most zoom photographs are taken during the day (landmarks, sports) and most low-light photos are taken at wide angle (indoors, parties, street scenes), so either cropping or interpolation is used accordingly.

If the Z1's camera were that good, Sony wouldn't bothering with their 'Smart Lens' (basically the lens and sensor - but not the screen - from one of two of Sony's existing compact cameras, one of which, the RX100 M2 is very well regarded)

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The future of PCIe: Get small, speed up, think outside the box

Dave 126
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Re: simplicity ... helps developers ... reap the benefits of PCIe in small form-factor devices.

Q: PCIe technology is in every server, workstation and laptop PC. Why is PCIe over M-PHY a suitable I/O technology for tablet and smartphone devices?

A: As a broadly adopted technology standard, PCIe benefits from several decades of innovations with universal support in all major Operating Systems, a robust device discovery and configuration mechanism, and comprehensive power management capabilities that very few, if any, of the other I/O technologies can match. PCIe technology has a flexible, layered protocol that enables innovations to occur at each layer of the architecture independent of the other layers. In this way, power-efficient PHY technologies, such as MIPI M-PHY, can be integrated with the familiar and highly functional PCIe protocol stack to deliver best-in-class and highly scalable I/O performance in tablet and smartphone devices.

-taken from http://www.pcisig.com/news_room/faqs/FAQ_pci_express_and_m-phy/

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Billionaire engineer Ray Dolby, 80, dies at home in San Francisco

Dave 126
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I remember reading an interesting article about magnetic recording in New Scientist, but I can't find a reference online to copy-past here, the gist comes from my memory:

Situation: Adolf Hitler wants to broadcast messages to his forces. Problem: The Allies can triangulate the transmitter and drop bombs on it, and by association on Hitler himself. Possible solution: Have Adolf pre-record his messages. Problem: Recording fidelity isn't high enough to convince the Allies that Adolf is making a live broadcast. Solution: Add a high frequency signal to the magnetic wire recordings. As it was explained to me, this HF signal excited the magnetic particles, making them more receptive to the desired signal.

The following article makes no mention of the above application, but does describe how the technique of adding a HF signal was discovered by accident (page 4):

www.richardhess.com/tape/history/Engel--Walter_Weber_2006.pdf

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Dave 126
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Re: I think

You don't do heavy metal in Dobly, you know.

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Microsoft announces iPad amnesty for fanbois

Dave 126
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>"Microsoft will be hoping that customers use the dosh to buy a new Surface RT or Pro tablet, perhaps failing to notice the poor reviews it has clocked up."

Links to those reviews please! I knew the RT had clocked up poor reviews, but many reviews of the Surface Pro are middling to positive.

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TWO can play this 64-bit mobile game, says Samsung, crossly

Dave 126
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Re: Forget 64 bits, and fix the 1 bit that's broken - the battery

Didn't Motorola have a range of phones, with some variants having big batteries? (US-only, IIRC).

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Dave 126
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Thank you Larry, I'm glad some people here actually come here to speculate about where things might be heading in the future, rather than just bashing one brand or another.

Personally, I'd like a headless laptop in small form factor that use a tablet (or two, why not?!) as its display, but I don't think something like that will come from Apple.

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Dave 126
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Re: Why does Samsung have to wait for Google?

>n the past vendors have donated bits to Android

I'm hoping that LG donate to Android the work they've done to support 192Khz 24bit audio on their latest flagship handset. They've certainly released APIs to third party AV app developers.

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Dave 126
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>lets face the facts; Apple user's are not smart people

Yeah, judging how smart people are for their aptitude in a specific area of knowledge... that's clever. There's a fair chance that your father knows more about tuning motorcycles for speed, or carpentry perhaps, than you do - that doesn't by itself make you a moron.

I'd rather my doctor be smart at medicine, I certainly won't consider her to be an imbecile for choosing an easy-to-use phone. Messing around with Android ROMs might be fun and all, but I can appreciate that it not to everybody's taste. Some people paint, create beautiful gardens, bake great delicious cakes or play musical instruments instead.

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Intel touts 2-in-1s, the 'new' reincarnation of convertibles

Dave 126
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Re: 2 in 1

>Best at none.

Really? I really can't see where the inherent flaw with something like the Lenovo Yoga (the laptop that can assume a 'tent' position or emulate a tablet, albeit a fat one) is. The hinges might add a few grams, but that's about it.

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Dyson takes Samsung to court in UK over vacuum cleaner

Dave 126
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Anecdotal evidence, but...

...I don't see Dyson vacuum cleaners in skips any more... ten years ago they weren't an uncommon sight, usually with a snapped handle. I can only assume that they have improved over the years.

A Henry... now that's a vacuum cleaner!

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Intel reveals 14nm PC, declares Moore's Law 'alive and well'

Dave 126
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Re: Moore's Guidline or Observation is not a Law...

Tell that to Sod, or to Murphy. Tucker's Law is a variation of Sod's Law, but with added profanity.

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New iPhones: C certainly DOESN'T stand for 'Cheap'

Dave 126
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Re: It is affordable and useful

>"Since those seem to be your two main use cases, the iPhone is not a suitable device."

You missed the part in his original post about the technical apps he finds useful on the Apple App Store.

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Dave 126
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Re: "space gray"

Bronze - 70s retro. Will it fade to Zune brown?

Fixed it for ya!

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Opera unveils iPad-only browser

Dave 126
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Re: Eh?

I love pie-menus - hold RmouseButton and swipe West (or NW, N, NE, E etc...) - in the software that uses them.

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IRON MAN MUSK: Elon reveals Tony Stark-style 3D design smarts

Dave 126
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Re: I call bullshit

@killakrust

Agreed, the spinning and zooming is not at all impressive, especially since the CAD software probably made the 'view' commands open long ago (so that human input devices like the 3D Connexions SpaceNavigator can be used with it). Even before the Leap was released, its forums had lots of discussions about using it with CAD, and requests for people to help develop drivers.

A good Leap CAD interface for creation (rather than review) can be made, but I suspect it would have to be designed around the Leap, rather than using the Leap as a bolt-on. Before that happens, a lot of experimentation will be required to discover what works best.

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Dave 126
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Re: I call bullshit

>Engineering is parameter driven. All important thicknesses, angles, lengths are set by entering numbers on a keyboard

Actually, CAD workflow is usually to 'sketch' the design intent, and then 'constrain' the entities to each other and add dimensions. You might enter these dimensions with a keyboard, or they may be derived from the results of a simulation, a parts catalogue or a spreadsheet, or be defined with respect to another entity.

With constraints, mouse-using designers don't rely on pixel-perfect accuracy - they use 'snaps', which can work in 3D just as with a mouse. Relations between entities can be revisited and edited at any time.

Even if you want to type in your dimensions, the Leap is capable of recognising when your fingers are above a number pad. It could even allow you to use your desk as a virtual keyboard if you wanted. However, voice input would work better for a lone Tony Stark in his own workshop than it would for an engineer sharing an ofice with others!

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Dave 126
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Okay...

There have been threads for 3D CAD on the Leap Motion forums, even before the device was released, about this very sort of application. There was nothing surprising in the video, except that the presenter looked like Christopher Walken.

I've been wanting the Reg to feature the Leap and so steer some Reg commentards towards the Leap forums, because it is clear that the UI is in its infancy. It will take more than just hooking up to the CAD software's existing 'view' APIs to get the best out of this sort of set-up.

Another aspect of the 'Iron Man' workshop (as featured in the films) is a situation-aware assistant in the workshop; there is no division between Tony Stark's CAD workstation and his physical workbench. Something like this can be done today with Kinect and Siri-like kit. Basically, make the entire workshop an extension of the CAD interface, in such a way that designs can easily moved back and forth between the real and the virtual.

A workshop that makes a note of your spoken dimensions every time you pick up a measure tape. A workshop that photographs and digitises your back of an envelope sketches. A workshop that creates a CAD layout based on where you've placed some cardboard boxes (cardboard and duck tape is often a better and quicker way of appraising a design than a CAD simulation). A workshop that can use a laser to project cut lines.

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Headmaster calls cops, tries to dash pupil's uni dreams - over a BLOG

Dave 126
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Re: Truth or consequences

>" In fact there was something on Radio4 about this the other day, "Word of Mouth" if I recall correctly where they were investigating what you can and can't say about people. The BBC lawyer they were speaking to was crystal clear that you can be honest about former employees and there is no problem with that at all."

That was a good programme, and the concepts explained clearly. In the same sort of way that journalists have an obligation to their readers to provide accurate information, so do former employers.

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Want the latest Android version? Good luck with that

Dave 126
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Re: MTP vs UMS

Cheers Jordan, that's a good link!

"However the cost [ of a unified storage model] is that Android can no longer ever yield up the storage for the host PC to molest directly over USB. Instead we use MTP. On Windows (which the majority of users use), it has built-in MTP support in Explorer that makes it look exactly like a disk."

The annoying thing is that MTP support in Windows Explorer might look like a disk, but doesn't behave like a disk. Example: Explorer doesn't present an 'Open with...' option in the context menu for files on a MTP device. So, even if you normally have .JPGs associated with Picasa Photo Viewer or IrfanView, Explorer will open pictures on your phone with Windows Photo Viewer (urgh).

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Dave 126
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Re: MTP vs UMS

Some Sony Xperia phones give you the option to connect as Mass Storage Class, since Google did away with it.

Just what is the world coming to when a Sony device connects to a computer more easily than its rivals, and without any special software? It must be the end of days...

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Dave 126
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Re: Windows Mobile was worse!

>Google need to be a lot firmer with operators and manufacturers.

Google don't need to get firmer because they have introduced a cunning workaround. Basically, Google have moved much of what Android does into a piece of software that is updated through the Play Store, and so doesn't involve the carriers in any way.

Have a look at the linked article in the first post.

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Dave 126
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Does it matter?

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/09/balky-carriers-and-slow-oems-step-aside-google-is-defragging-android/

"Google's strategy is clear. Play Services has system-level powers, but it's updatable. It's part of the Google apps package, so it's not open source. OEMs are not allowed to modify it, making it completely under Google's control. Play Services basically acts as a shim between the normal apps and the installed Android OS.

"Nearly everything that can be moved out of the main OS has been. The only features left that would require an OS update are things like hardware support, Application Frameworks APIs, and Apps that require a certain level of security or access (like the lock screen, Phone, and Settings apps).

"This is how you beat software fragmentation. When you can update just about anything without having to push out a new Android version, you have fewer and fewer reasons to bother calling up Samsung and begging them to work on a new update. When the new version of Android brings nothing other than low-level future-proofing, users stop caring about the update."

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Xiaomi plans global domination with fast smartphones and software

Dave 126
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Re: Good grief!

Their stated aim has been to sell hardware at close to cost, and to sell services on top. Their custom Android ROM (available for a range of phones from different manufacturers) looks interesting, with what look to be genuinely useful improvements over stock Android:

http://en.miui.com/features.php

I hope they do well!

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Smartwatch craze is all just ONE OFF THE WRIST

Dave 126
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Re: How refreshing

Grease? That's the fun thing about engineering very small things - cube and square roots being what they are, friction becomes more of a concern the smaller things get; hence the use of jewels as bearings in mechanical watches.

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Now we know why UK spooks simply shrugged at SSL encryption

Dave 126
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Re: They're doing their job.

>How afraid I, as a private individual, should be of this sort of thing, I really don't know.

There is probably little reason to be afraid of the NSA or GCHQ themselves. There would more risk of one of their employees taking out a grudge on you for some imagined slight, and abusing these systems for that end (BOFH style). If Snowden could access more than he was supposed to, then so could someone with less idealistic (okay, the jury is out) motives. Still very unlikely though.

Of course the real fear is that we don't know what governments will look like in ten or twenty years time... were a totalitarian regime come into being, it would have some handy tools for bashing any dissenting voices.

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Dave 126
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Re: The code-ring on the golf course

>Most intelligence data is time-critical. It has a very short shelf-live.

That said, being able to read in 2223 messages sent between foreign powers and their embassies in 2013 (store data now, wait for Moore's Law to help out, decrypt) would still be of great benefit. It would give some valuable insights into your rival / trading partner, such as the difference between what they say and what they think.

Some games are short term, other are much longer.

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Finns, roamers, Nokia: So long, and thanks for all the phones

Dave 126
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Re: Lumia 1020 don't understand the fuss.

Yeah, you can.... but not at the same compact size. Heck, you can get a proper DSLR plus kit lens for £300, but people still buy compact cameras because, well, they are compact. If you haven't got your camera with you at the time, you can't prove that the Loch Ness Monster when you catch it making love to your car.

(The nice thing is that manufacturers are picking up on this, and the range of high quality yet pocketable cameras has swelled in the last couple of years, to suit many definitions of 'pocket' ... RX100, LX-7, X-10, S-110)

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