62 posts • joined Tuesday 31st July 2007 08:18 GMT
Re: Nothing to do with chips.
Re: real time HDR video.
I'm not a camera engineer, so this is just my guessing, but if you have a triple CCD video camera (which used to be expensive, but is a feature that's now available on high end consumer cameras), why can't you set each CCD to a different exposue value and capture the HDR info that way? No need for half-silvered mirrors and such.
I know that the three different CCDs were actually designed to capture the different primary colors, but with the flick of a firmware switch couldn't they operate in an HDR capture mode?
Not his fault...I suppose
Ben inherited the collosal train wreck that was Lucent. Before Alcatel bought them Alcatel was doing OK. I'm not saying everything was perfect - they had a huge French pension liability. But Lucent was just a boat anchor that had paid tens of billions in useless company acquisitions and was losing money. They paid $23B just for Ascend - and there was never a second generation product that came out of that purchase. The scale of their stupidity is awesome!
Verwaayen is "one of the boys" who keeps bouncing from Lucent to BT then to ALU. Contracts always seem to follow, so he obviously has good contacts. But trying to rescue ALU is a losing battle.
The IP products that Alcatel got from buying Timetra are good. It's about the only decent acquisition I can think of.
Alcatel is trying to sell their submarine optical business right now. Next up will be the terrestrial optical business. Both used to be jewels in the crown (the sub business is still #1 in the world, but losing money).
They are also supposed to be "monetizing" their patent portfolio, but why on Earth haven't they been doing that years ago?
How is it that ALU shareholders allow management to maintain this level of incompetence? There are tens of thousands of employees and former employees who are expecting pensions from this company. What's going to happen to them?
As others have pointed out, this isn't Nokia...it's the jont venture created in 2006 between Siemens Communications and Nokia's Network Business Group.
They are deeply in debt, with falling sales and are making a loss.
Late last year they announced they were selling NSN's Optical Division to Marlin Equity Partners. This was a distressed sale because the optical business unit had been on the market for over two years and there were no takers. Th terms of the acquisition wre not disclosed - that's how little money NSN made from the sale. One of the problems is that, thanks to the former Siemens unit, there are huge pension liabilities that make an aquisition of NSN Optical unattractive. My guess is that Marlin will strip away the liability of those German employees with big pension entitlements by changing their contracts. Once they've stripped away the liabilities then they might be able to unload the company to Juniper (who have a technology partnership with NSN). While this is happening the development of the NSN Optical products is stagnant, which means that by the time they are bought the products will be obsolete.
The next asset to be sold will be the Carrier Ethernet division (maunlt former Atrica Networks). As a US aquisition there aren't the same liabilities as for the optical division.
But once these two assets are sold then the cupboard is looking pretty bare for any kind of growth business. There are the service teams, which should be profitable on their own. But services is a diminishing business when the manufacturing portion dies out.
IMHO NSN in the current economic climate is a dead man walking - rather like Alcatel Lucent.
A few corrections
>>"One of the best ways to cut down networks’ power consumption is to get rid of the power-hungry electronics that does most of the heavy lifting."
It's not quite as simple as that. Service speeds tend to be a lot lower than backbone data rates (especially as DWDM moves towards coherent super-channels). So you *can* build all-optical networks, and they may appear to have a lower CapEx and power consumption, but they will be inefficiently filled unless you can do electronic grooming of services in the core network. There are several mathematical studies of this if anyone's interested.
>>"Optical communications is based on the 1530 nm wavelength band – the entire ITU frequency grid for DWDM systems (G.694.1) fits between 1530 nm and 1625 nm – a tiny amount of the near infrared (the vertical red line on the graph above)."
No. Let me see if I can rewrite this to keep it both accurate and concise.
Optical communications is based on a range of near infrared wavebands, including the C-Band (1530-1565nm), and the L-Band (1565-1625nm) - both of which are used for DWDM long haul optical transmission. Other wavebands (O, E, S Bands) are used, along with the C and L bands, in Coarse WDM transmission.
>>We don’t use visible wavelengths, because the ubiquitous Erbium-doped optical amplifier, cheap and everywhere, works at the 1530 nm band.
We don't use visible light because the attenuation of silica-based fibers at those wavelengths is way too high - whether you have workable amplifiers or not. Multimode, lower data rate LAN systems make use of red LEDs, but only for very short reach applications.
You are correct that EDFAs work best in the C-Band - in fact they "define" the C-Band. EDFAs can also be made to operate in the L-Band (but they are different EDFAs). Because of the energy levels in the Erbium atom, EDFAs do not work in the O, E and S Bands.
Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers (SOAs) work in all of these bands, but there is a long-held perception that SOAs are not suitable for WDM operation. EDFAs are defintely better - but the fact is that optical attenuation outside of the C and L Bands are generally too high for high data rate, long haul transmission.
...isn't Perth the capital of Western Australia, as opposed to West Australia?
I know I live half a world away, but I've never heard the latter usage.
The Government of Western Australia website appears to confirm my understanding:
Trade barriers are a bad idea...
...but Huawei and ZTE both use low cost pricing options.
There was a multi-million dollar optical network in Eastern Europe earlier this year that was decided on an electronic auction. Basically all the bidders drop their prices until there is only one left.
The "normal" companies all dropped out when it dropped to their floor prices, leaving Huawei and ZTE competing with each other.
Huwaei bid one cent (I think the auction was priced in US Dollars or Euros), and ZTE went crazy trying to enter a zero bid - but the system kept saying it was an error.
ZTE legally challenged the Huawei win because they said they would have bid lower if the system would have allowed it. In fact they would have bid a negative number if the system would allow it.
Why do these companies do this crazy stuff? Three reasons:
- Several years ago the bank of China gave billions of dollars in loans for Huawei and ZTE to "Go out and win international business". http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-04-25/huawei-counts-on-30-billion-china-credit-to-open-doors-in-brazil-mexico.html
- Huawei and ZTE are trying to obtain dominant market positions becaus they think in the long term - whereas US companies think 90 days at a time. They are prepared to take short term losses in order to make long term gains.
- Once a customer is locked into a Huawei or ZTE network they often find that long term costs are prohibitive. These include expensive service contracts and higher prices on capital equipment after the frame contract has expired. By then it's too late and the decision-makers in the customer don't dare to say anything because they will look really stupid. In the case of BT and Matt Bross it was even better - he went from being the guy at BT who awarded Huawei the 21CN contract to being a CTO at Huawei itself. Nothing unethical there, surely!
So trade barriers are a bad idea. But allowing Chinese companies to dump products in this way is an even worse idea.
Alcatel is paying the price partly because they have chosen to take on Huawei and ZTE in their sweet-spot markets - especially mobile (for Huawei) and local loop (for Huawei and ZTE). Low margin, high volume markets are perfect for heavily subsidised businesses.
I agree with McBeese - 1200x800 is a very nice resolution on a 7 inch tablet.
At least Asus understand a tablet has to have a card slot! The Nexus is nice, but with no SD card slot it's useless to me. If I wanted a closed tablet where everything had to go to and from it by WiFi I'd use my iPad!
I recently purchased an Ainol Novo7 Fire, and it's a thing of beauty - especially for 109 quid (plus five quid for recorded delivery)! The days of cheap Chinese tablets being badly made seem to be over. Build quality is excellent, and it's just about perfect for watching films on a plane. The one feature everyone misses is an integrated stand. Didn't Archos have that feature?
The other thing that I suppose I'll never have is a properly fitting case. That's the good thing about buying a "branded" tablet - you'll get some custom after-market accessories.
Never realized before how good 7" of Ainol could be.
Re: now works for Huawei as their CTO
I absolutely agree that it's in Huawei's best interest to "take care" of people who may have smiled kindly on them in the past. People who were in influential positions when multi-billion pound deals were decided.
Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that nothing was "promised" ahead of time. By employing a former senior executive at a service provider, in a position where he has to do little or no work, for a salary that most of us would dream of, Huawei makes it easier for influential decision makers in future customers to "smile kindly" on Huawei.
I'm also aware that this is exactly the kind of thing that UK and US companies did for decades.
Senior executives usually have a "non-compete" clause in their contracts, and that's one reason they tend to receive huge payouts if they leave their positions (regardless of the reason). But as far as I can tell they do not seem to have a clause that prevents them working for a company that they may have been able to "do a favor" for in their previous position. By the way, it's not just Bross and BT. Look at Ben Verwaayen. Lucent to BT then back to Alcatel-Lucent. In that period Lucent was, and continues to be a major supplier to BT.
And what about ex-BT Retail CTO Stratis Scleparis moving to Phorm? Just after he'd got BT to agree to deploy the technology?
I suppose the question is, do we really want corruption to be an acceptable business practice? I mean...there are laws against it, just like there were "laws" against a lot of stuff the banks did in the past few decades or so.
I get the impression that UK and US equipment companies are keenly aware of the boundaries these days. They are no more or less "moral" than Chinese companies - they're just more afraid of being caught :-)
BT doesn't seem to be bothered about either being caught, or being perceived to be enganged in dubious relationships.
I can't believe how dependent BT is on Huawei now
Went to Ad Astral Park last year and the number of Chinese faces in the cafeteria was astonishing. I realize that's a racist thing to say - but it prompted me to ask my BT host about it, and she said "basically the entire network operations are now outsourced to the Chinese while the software is outsourced to Indians."
Personally I think it's vital that countries like China, India, Pakistan and Brazil are given every opportunity to grow their economies. Apart from the humanitarian aspect (ie. it's the right thing to do to help them improve their quality of life) it also means Britain has prosperous markets into which we can sell our goods (Jaguar, which is owned by an Indian company, had a record year in exporting cars to China, for example).
But it's a bit scary to see so much of what used to be high tech innovation being outsourced. BT's decision to exclude Marconi from 21CN resulted in the loss of thousands of British jobs. Ironically because BT bought a cut down MSAN from Huawei (the box that goes in the telephone exchange) it meant that the planned moved to a VoIP Next Gen Network had to be cancelled. So the UK still has crappy old circuit-switched voice in use by our national operator.
And don't even get me started on the fact that the man who was driving the 21CN project while at BT (Matt Bross) now works for Huawei as their CTO.
Nothing suspicious or unethical there, eh?
I was talking to a chap while on a plane last year who is a producer of hard core porn movies, and when I told him I worked for an internet equipment company he explained to me that for the porn industry the internet is a double-edged sword. On the one hand it's a great route to market, but on the other hand it's a great way for porn pirates to distribute their goods. In his opinion the ability to easily acquire "free porn" (most of which is pirated) was "killing his industry".
He said a lot of otherwise honest people, who can pay, and would probably prefer to pay for porn actually pirate it so they can remain anonymous.
I suspect that this filter would tend to block "legal porn", as opposed to "pirated porn", and the stigma of opting in so that one could receive "legal porn" would probably be yet another nail in the industry's coffin.
I'm not saying that the porn industry is a good thing or a bad thing. But under our current legal system (and the legal systems of most "free" countries) pornography is legal. So as long as he stays within the law's definitions (which is increasingly difficult to do) he has a right to conduct his business on the internet.
Note that I do not classify illegal content, such as child abuse imagery as pornography (despite most journalists trivializing this topic with the label "kiddy porn"). It is illegal content, full stop. And there are no circumstances where it should be tolerated online.
Will wait for the price to drop
So if I'm reading this correctly Crucial has used some older, slower components to build a low cost drive - but then slapped a retail price on it that's not low at all? I've seen SATA3 256G drives of various makes in the 115 pound range recently.
Moving to an SSD was the best decision I ever made for my desktop machine. But I have a few older laptops that would definitely benefit from a sub-100 quid, 256GB SATA2 SSD.
Hopefully demand for this model will be sluggish, and will result in rapid price erosion; at which point I would be happy to buy it.
One quick question. A while back I saw a hybrid disc - with spinning platters but a small SSD to act as a "huge cache". It was from ebuyer, I think, but I can't remember the details. It struck me as a great compromise because it delivered (I think) 500GB of storage, but performance that would be about the same as a SATA2 drive like this.
Oddly I haven't really seen it advertised since, and I'm wondering why.
Re: Anyone else noticed....
I completely agree...mergers just don't seem to work.
IMHO...mergers and acquisitions are only made to line management's pockets.
One chain of financial despair I will add to your examples.
1993, Wellflleet merge with Synoptics (both were healthy companies at the time) to form Bay Networks - which at the time of the acquisition had bigger revenues than Cisco. The merger was a disaster from the point of view of market share, but then Bay was sold to Nortel a few years later (1998). Nortel was buying anything and everything at the time...they blew billions on those acquisitions ($9.1B on Bay). Then of course Nortel went bankrupt in 2009, and managed to unload the equipment division onto Ciena. And today Ciena is maybe a billion dollars in debt, losing market share to Huawei, and not generating enough income to pay down that debt. They are technically not bankrupt because they are able to keep up the payments on the loans, but if Ciena was a European company they would be obliged to either file for bankruptcy or show a plan of how they were going to recapitalize the company.
There is no logical reason why Alcatel bought Lucent. Lucent was in terminal decline at the time, but Alcatel was actually doing OK. The only reason I can fathom is that the management teams of both companies received huge bonuses for their "visionary" acquisition.
Re: Omitted Truth
>>>"But as a long time "Apple skeptic" I think they have very cleverly.." lied and cheated and colluded with publishers to fix the price of eBooks.
Errr...no they haven't. Apple does not "fix the price" of eBooks. As an author you can choose to give your book away for free (see the example I gave - EO Wilson "Life on Earth"). Or to charge anything you like up to $15.
Oh - perhaps you mean they fix the maximum price of eBooks at $15?
Gosh - as a consumer I would think that's a good thing.
Since you're obviously a fellow Apple-hater who has glanced at news headlines without reading the story, you may be referring to the exclusivity clause in the iBook Author publishing agreement. This is as follows:
- You get to use the authoring environment free of charge. This authoring environment is way better than anything that exists in the PC/Linux/Android world. The resulting iBooks are so slick that there is no equivalent technology on the horizon for an Android tablet (I wish there were).
- If you choose to give away your book for free then you can distribute it however you like (ie. not through the IBook Store).
- If you choose to give your book away for free then you can use the facilities of the iBook store, and Apple will not charge you a dime for doing that. It would cost you a fortune to market a free iBook in anything like the same way if you tried to do it yourself.
- If you choose to charge for your book you must distribute it through the iBook store - you are not allowed to use other distribution mechanisms. This is the point that many people jump on - but that's because they don't understand the publishing world. When you sign any publishing contract you are bound to that publisher exclusively (for that book), unless they release you. Apple is not doing anything different or sneaky here. In fact they only take 30% of your book cost, which is less than half of the normal cut. The author ends up with far more of the final sales price using Apple's mechanism.
Anyway - Apple doesn't need me to defend it - they're doing rather nicely with their hundred billion dollar cash pile. I'm sure they do a lot of things that annoy people, but the iBook agreement is not a lie (or "Omitted Truth"), and is actually a great deal for the authors.
There is one killer app for Macs - iBook Author
I bought a MacBook Pro a couple of years ago, hoping to have the "Apple Experience". Nothing much happened. It was amusing to play with it for a while, but then I had to get on with some real work so I installed Parallels and Win7 (which worked astonishingly well). Realized after a couple of months it was just silly to be using such an expensive machine to run Windows. I literally never ran anything in OSX any more, so I gave the MacBook Pro to my daughter and went back to a proper computer (one with a docking station - a stupid and incomprehensible omission from the MacBooks IMHO).
Then Apple released their "enhanced eBooks" for the iPad. The most famous of these (and it's free) is EO Wilson's "Life on Earth". It's astonishingly good in terms of the ability to integrate rich media seamlessly.
When I discovered that Apple was giving away the authoring package for free (iBook Author), it caused me to actually buy an iPad 2 (no point in paying a hundred quid more for the retina display), and "borrow" the MacBook Pro back from my daughter. Note that if you're developing these iBook you need the iPad for testing the book.
I now love a lot of things about the iPad (it works so smoothly compared to my Android ICS tablet). I hate iTunes and the pain in the ass way that you get content on and off the iPad.
But as a long time "Apple skeptic" I think they have very cleverly created a new application (enhanced ebooks), along with the development environment so that anyone can put together a very sexy looking, multimedia text book.
If I can be persuaded to like Apple then anyone can :-)
I don't care what they do...
...as long as I don't have to sit through commercials.
I suppose the existence of Tivo and other PVRs makes commercials more tolerable, but the fact that the BBC can craft their programs without having to work on a five minute timescale (as US TV programs have to), I think is one reason the quality of everything on the Beeb is higher.
I like the idea of the Beeb becoming an international media giant, but I suspect in doing so it would become as rubbish as Sky, ITV and the myriad other mediocre content providers out there.
I may be missing the point, but...
The major advantage is supposedly omnidirectional collection.
The example application cited is “solar clothing”.
Wouldn’t it be dark inside the clothes?
The digital divide widens
Sitting on a Market 1 exchange - wondering if this fiber will ever get outside the city centres.
I can't blame the company - they're not a charity.
Does anyone know the detail of this rollout? Will Cityfibre be obliged to include a certain percentage of rural homes in the rollout as condition of whatever authority awards them permission to do this?
It's not a lot, but at least it would be a move in the right direction.
One other question. If Cityfibre goes bust, where does this leave the users?
They should focus on bringing decent broadband to the "have-nots"
I agree with AndrueC - the focus is all wrong. We need:
- Better last mile speeds fo everyone - not just the lucky "majority".
- Better backhaul capacity, so if I can clock at 6Mbps then that's what I should expect as throughput in a speed test.
- Less asymmetry. I have a 17:1 ratio between my downstream and upstream clock speeds. I work from home and it would be great to do decent quality video conferencing. I can receive the VC picture, but can't send it back (some would say that's a good thing).
- All Market 1 exchanges (like mine) should have an obligatory 21CN date by the end of, say, 2012. I could get about 18Mb/s downstream if the exchange was upgraded to ADSL2+. They'd have to turn up the backhaul speed at the same time, obviously.
I have huge sympathy with Brian Morrison's plight of cable damage. The threshold for getting it repaired sounds like BS to me!
Brilliant 'phones - but try Amazon.com
I've had a pair of ANC7's (not 7b's) since about 2006 and after using them for frequent long haul travel I have to say they're brilliant - everything the reviewer points out.
I remember when I bought them that the original review said they are "Bose quality without the price tag" and I would have to agree.
If you want to buy these beauties you would be well advised to shop on Amazon.com. I found them for $99 new. At that sort of price (plus shipping and the risk of duty) I would suggest they genuinely are the best in the world.
ByeLaw101 - you are a gentleman!
Unless you are a lady, in which case you are a...lady. Have a pint!
But I see that Will Godfrey is now completely missing the point. I knew it was a mistake to quote Wikipedia!
Will...please put aside the actual meaning of TLA (as you point out - you consider semantics to be a matter for popular vote). Forget that people don't give a crap about the documented meaning of words these days. Blimey - I hope you don't write mission critical code for a living!
In the article the author pointed to a reference that said TLA stands for "Three Letter Acronym". He was referring to GCN, which is not an acronym, it is an abbreviation.
Ironically if he had pointed to the Wikipeia entry instead of the PCMag entry he would have been fine because Wikipedia allows both expansions of the abbreviation TLA (which is, by the way consistent with the OED definition of TLA).
Flippin' heck! It was only supposed to be a mildly pedantic comment in the first place! Now it's turning into Vogon Poetry!
Sorry skelband...I'm confused.
It doesn't matter what the expansion of TLA is - although I have to question the logic of your remark...
"The dictionaries may have corrected that oversight but it doesn't make them right in terms of their popular usage, and the usage I have seen and heard for the past 20 years contradicts your assertion."
...that's just silly talk. But if you're doing modern English GCSEs I can imagine how you came to that conclusion.
My original point, which appears to have completely passed you by, is that the author of the aritcle ( Rik Myslewski) indicated that GCN is a TLA (see the bottom the first page of the article).
But since the link that Rik used points to a definition of TLA as "Three Letter Acronym" - then GCN is not an acronym, it's an abbreviation.
@ByeLaw101 - what on Earth are you on about? How can you "pronounce" GCN? Are you Polish? They're the only people I know that seem to be able to pronounce words without vowels.
TLA - don't like Wikipedia? How about a DICTIONARY?
LOL - you may not like Wikipedia - that's irrelevant.
My point is that the author of the article, and PCMag.com (and apparently you and AC) do not understand the difference between an abbreviation and an acronym. They are not synonyms.
Here is a link you can use... www.dictionary.com
Like I said - I'm in pedant mode, but TLA is not a TLA by your definition.
GCN is not a TLA as defined by those idiots at PCMag.com
Since I couldn't understand most of the rest of the article I dropped into Pedant Mode.
I know the Reg writers don't have time for things like correct spelling, grammar or semantics; but when you give links to definitions like TLA could you please use a correct (or more correct) definition?
In this case the Wikipedia definition allows for the fact that in most instances of TLA, the "A" stands for abbreviation, not acronym as PCMag seems to think.
GCN is a three letter abbreviation, not a three letter acronym.
Morena Baccarin...good suggestion. Totally hot in SG-1.
But I suspect they're lookng for a big name actress.
Actually - if Morena Baccarin had got it, they would have been obliged to choose a great outfit. The danger of a big name actress is that they might wimp out, like the Halle Berry Catwoman.
The problem wasn't Halle...
...it was the appalling outfit she wore.
Michelle Pfeiffer's outfit (by the way - she is 52 this year!) was amazing. Berry's outfit was crap, and a major disappointment.
Both ladies are beautiful, and personally I thnk that Berry has even more of a feline sensuality about her.
Catwoman has to wear a catsuit, it's blindingly obvious. Anne Hathaway has the body to carry it off without doubt. Let's hope the costume designer for the new movie is sufficiently perverted to "get it".
Finally moving to Mac
I recently picked up a drive-by infection on my desktop PC (the AntiMalware Doctor infection).
Having spent about a day trying to get rid of it with Malwarebytes (usually a good solution), I gave up and just reached for my Acronis image to do a "nuke and pave".
Even though I operate my PC in a way that's easy for me to recover, I still lost about a day of productive time.
So after years of resisting all things Apple I just ordered a Macbook Pro. I'll still run Office etc. using Parallels, but I'll do all my browsing through OSX from now on. I assume I'll have to start wearing more pastel shades of polo shirt too :-)
By the way - I'd also recommend a sandboxed browser option like Sandboxie. It's free and it works pretty well. If I'd remembered to launch the sandboxed browser instead of my default browser I could have avoided the infection.
Other ways to protect users
I used to work for a content security company who won a deal with a major ISP for a similar capability (ie. detection of infected broadband subscribers). In that case the equipment simply monitored outbound traffic from the subscriber to detect Port 25 packets. This gave an extremely high probability that this subscriber was infected, and was acting as part of a botnet.
(Note, I know that botnet technology has moved on, but even today a simple Port 25 test would probably find over 90% of user infections).
Note that the tiny % of ISP customers who run their own mail servers (and therefore generate legitimate Port 25 traffic) can request to be put on a "white list" so they do not receive repeated warnings.
The company I worked for unfortunately was not successful commercially. The problem is that, while it is useful for an ISP's customers to be warned if they are infected, there is nothing in it for the ISP. It's not worth the ISP paying for the solution.
This leads the ISP to consider dodgy systems like Phorm, and maybe the one described here. In other words the ISP tries to make some money out of it.
I spoke to a number of security guys in some very large ISPs around the world and they told me that they thought that 25-33% of their subscribers were infected.
This did not surprise me because the average UK broadband user has no clue about how to protect themselves on the Net.
TalkTalk may well have had the good of their customers in mind here - let's give them the benefit of the doubt. But they don't seem to have handled this situation very well. If they had been honest with their users it would have been much easier for them. I guess ISPs never learn.
Also, FYI, TalkTalk does not have Ellacoya DPI boxes in their network (unlike other UK ISPs like BT). They use Sandvine boxes instead. The Sandvine boxes are not in-line with user data, so they do not have the same active DPI capabilities as a result.
What about the backhaul?
I am served by a semi-rural BT Market 1 exchange. For foreigners that means there is no unbundling - and there are so few people on the exchange that unbundling is almost inconceivable. Regardless of who my retail ISP is, the traffic is actually carried on the BT Wholesale network.
My local loop is still ADSL, so I'm on an "up to 8Mb/s" service. I actually get about 7Mb/s on the DSL router, and can sustain about 5Mb/s on my RapidShare downloads.
So all in all I'm really happy with the download speed. The upload speed is shite - about 300kb/s. So video calls are tenuous at best. VoIP usually works OK.
My exchange is due for a 21CN upgrade to ADSL2+ in 2011, which should allow me to get 18Mb/s to the exchange, from the dB numbers I see on the router. I may get about 750kb/s on the uplink if I'm lucky.
But it's the backhaul speed that will limit me - at least for downloading.
What is the point of "superfast broadband" in the local loop if BT continues to lag on the upgrades to the backhaul and core network?
What is the point of any speed upgrades if my monthly bandwidth is capped by BT or the retail ISP?
Why are ISPs still allowed to call these services "unlimited"?
A couple of comments...
I will take your advice on trying OO again on XP, thanks for that reminder.
I know Edward Tufte's essay very well. It's a good read, and he makes some excellent points. But crap presenters are still crap presenters with or without Powerpoint. :-) I think it's an excellent observational piece though.
I freely acknowledge Powerpoint gives crap presenters some interesting new ways to screw up! A bit like Desktop publishing software gave people who had no intrinsic document design skills interesting new ways to write ransom notes.
I'd also like to re-interate that I said "a lot of people use Powerpoint", not that they are dependent on it. Nobody should depend on any specific application to do their job (unless they're a developer for that application). Powerpoint is a useful way to store, organise, and present information, and it does those things better than anything else on the market today (even the Apple thingy - Keynote?).
As for being soured on Impress by one moderator. Well he was the moderator of a developer forum. I saw many comments about the poor graphics capabilities of Impress. And to be honest it was pretty par for the course for those kind of techie-focused forums. Anyone who mentions a customer-related issue tends to be dismissed as a "marketing dweeb".
In fact it makes me laugh that the Linux community has managed to develop a totally useless, but very pretty 3D desktop in the form of Beryl, but can't even get simple Powerpoint animations right.
My comments are focused on the Powerpoint/Impress "feature gap" because I tend to push Powerpoint to its limits. If I was a power user of Word or Excel I'm sure I'd be able to list reasons why the OO equivalents are not up to par. You pointed out the database deficiencies, for example.
I suppose you could argue that with OO being "good enough" for a free office application it becomes a barrier for a commercial company to create a real MS Office killer.
To be successful on the desktop, Linux needs a truly professional Office suite. Open Office is not it. End of story.
Still no Powerpoint alternative
I very much enjoyed Part 1, looking forward to the next part.
When Vista became such an embarrassment a couple of years back I was one of the guys in my company (I'm in the user community, not part of IT) who thought "what a great excuse to look at Linux". It was even more applicable when Office 2007 came out and seasoned office veterans were turned into Newbies overnight by the feckin' "Ribbon".
I'd played with various Linux implementations over the years, but never found anything to do with them. It seemed that people run Linux just for the joy of running Linux. I guess it's OK for developers, or as a server, but there are no world class apps for the general population.
So I tried it for laughs. I got no further than Open Office. What a pile of dingo's kidneys compared even with Office 2007. Open Office was the reason I persevered with the Ribbon, and have sort of, kind of got used to it.
I was amused to read your words about BeOS...
"The only two things BeOS didn't do was view PowerPoint presentations from PR people and text retrieval. But that was a problem for PR people, who got a polite message requesting a PDF version."
Powerpoint is actually used by quite a few people. And the Open Office equivalent - Impress - is literally a joke. It does anything but impress me. I tuned into one of the developer forums for Impress, hoping to find out I'd installed it wrongly or something. But when I pointed out that animations were poorly implemented the forum moderator politely told me something like:
"We won't be fixing this. I never use animations."
After I'd finished laughing at the arrogance of this remark I promptly wiped the Linux installation and went back to Windows - with a greater sense of gratitude that, whatever Microsoft's faults, within Windows there are good quality office applications that actually do far more than the users need.
I know Open Office is free. But again, this is a symptom of the Linux mentality. People will actually pay for good software. You don't have to put up with crap software just because it's free.
I also realise that a lot of people work very hard to produce and maintain Open Office applications. I apologise if my remarks have upset them in any way, although I hardly think they're anything they haven't heard a thousand times before.
My prejudices remain:
- Linux is for developers and servers.
- Macs are for content security consultants, and people who like shiny, expensive toys.
- Windows is for ordinary users who need world class applications for office automation.
DVLA is ace!
I've been lucky not to have to call central government very often, but the one occasion I can remember it was the DVLA.
I'd sent my license back for a photo update only to find I had to travel to the US on business. I needed the license to hire a car.
I spoke to a nice chap at DVLA. Not a call centre because his Welsh accent was very obvious. Rather than mess me about he immediately passed me to his supervisor who was extremely helpful. She offered two or three options for me if they were not able to get the new license back on time, but she also promised to "look out for it and hurry it up". I must say I was a bit dubious - it seemed such a personal assurance to give.
Anyway, my new license arrived safe and sound two days later, and I had no problems hiring the car. Outstanding service - especially as the DVLA had a backlog of licenses to deal with because of the postal strike that was on then.
In total contrast was my attempt to ask Hertz (the rental company) if they would accept an official fax copy of my license from the DVLA (this was one of the options the nice lady there offered). Nobody there had a flipping clue! They were hopeless, and broadly speaking couldn't care less.
I'll still use Hertz in the US because they've got the best checkin facility at SFO, but I hope I never have a paperwork query with them!!!
Huawei will soon own everything!!!
Everything that ZTE doesn't own, anyway.
The Chinese National Bank just extended their credit line to $30B, so there's no shortage of cash to buy whatever they need.
I'm off to Waterstones to buy a "Teach Yourself Mandarin" course.
Folks - first let me say I love the Reg, and most of the reviews here are both entertaining and informative. But while the entertainment aspect is great - I think you need to beef up the information level in your reviews. In particular, if you are reviewing a specific class of product - like a media streamer - it might be good to stick to the same person, so that he or she can build up a level of experience, and perhaps check out AV forums for that type of product to see what the users are saying.
Cliff, it looks like you haven't done many media streamer reviews (hey - we all have to start somewhere). Not sure where to begin on the long list of things that people need to know about these boxes, but a few things spring to mind:
- How long does the box take to boot? We are continually told to switch electrical products off when they are not in use so cold boot time becomes a critical useability feature.
- There are two recurring features that are demanded by users of the Western Digital and other similar media streamers (with and without internal hard drives). First is the ability to create a shortcut to a designated network share (this is a huge missing feature in many devices). Second is the ability to proportionately fast forward through a movie (check the Popcornhour feature where you can go to X% of the movie by pressing the number keys). So does the Iomega have either of these?
- You mention that the unit "made hardly any noise". Hmm. Forgive me, but that is not a very useful comment. I'm sure the manufacturer publishes the noise level in dB so we could compare it to other reviews. Also - I'm guessing you reviewed this at home. Is this a quiet environment where even a tiny cooling fan sounds loud? Or a noisy flat next to a busy road? I know this seems pedantic, but HD movies with high quality soundtracks tend to have a huge audio range - everything from explosions to almost total silence. And in the latter situation the last thing you need is a noisy hard drive, or even worse a cooling fan starting up. So some idea of the steady state noise (mainly caused by the hard drive) versus peak noise (cooling fan) would be great.
- You mentioned that the interface is not as graphically pleasing as the Apple TV. Fair comment. But does that mean it is more responsive? A big complaint in the media streamer forums is the sluggish way that the user interface behaves. Eye candy is a novelty that soon wears off. A responsive UI is a genuine, and highly valued feature.
- Remotes can be very directional. So in other words, the unit only sees the command if you are directly pointing at it. What is the situation with the Iomega?
- On the topic of remotes - nobody (almost) who own boxes like this uses the out of the box remote. I think I'm right in saying that the de facto "all in one" remote is the Logitech Harmony series. So you need to provide two usability reviews - one using the in-box remote, and one using the Harmony.
Generally I would say that the Reg needs to become more systematic in the review of media streamers, and other types of gadget, so that different reviews could be compared more easily.
Stepping away from the soapbox now :-)
Impress fails to impress
Would love to move to Linux. Think Beryl looks way cool. Like the idea of an O/S that actually runs on the hardware I can afford. Hate M$.
With all due respect to the great folks who donate their time to opensource projects. Impress is dreadful. I've tried Open Office several times, and while the word processor and spreadsheet are OK, Impress is totally unusable. I suppose the difference is that I only use 10% of Word functions, 5% of Excel functions, so I don't notice the lack of function or compatibility in those Open Office apps. But with Powerpoint I use 110% of the application - I push the boundaries of animations and such, and also use a bunch of add-ons for even more functionality.
When I look at the pitiful support for these features in Impress I realise that Microsoft is guaranteed a place on most enterprise laptops for the forseeable future. And if it's stuck on the laptops you can bet that enterprise desktops will use it for compatibility.
By the way - you could justifiably say that very few people need these advanced functions in any company. You would be correct. But the presentations that I develop are used by our whole sales force. They not only need to be able to display the presentation, they also need to be able to do simple editing of the file to suit their needs on a given day. There is virtually no chance that I can take one of my spiffed up Powerpoint files and import it to Impress.
The need for presentation editing is also the reason I can't move to Flash. the other reason is that I can develop a presentation in Powerpoint in a quarter of the time I need for Flash.
What really brought it home to me was when I posted my question about poor animation support on the Impress development forum. One of the lead developers responded with something like...
"You shouldn't be using transitions and animations in a presentation package anyway."
At that point I knew I was in the wrong place :-) Nice guy. Wrong planet.
Let's put this NASA pen vs Russian pencil myth to bed shall we?
- BOTH countries began by using pencils
- Pencils are dangerous in space (explained in the link)
- A private company designed a pen to meet space requirements - they were not asked to do so by NASA
- NASA didn't pay a penny towards the development
- The pen worked as required, and was subsequently used by BOTH USA and Russia
- It is also available to buy if that takes your fancy
Apple TV killer?
Looks to me like it goes up against the Apple TV.
But on the UK Apple Store the 160G Apple TV is £263. If Acer is sayng "below $300", which could mean $299.99, then in Ripoff Britain then can we expect to pay £300?
If so this is a tricky choice.
Apple TV is cheaper, more polished (inevitably), has Front Row, and looks as gorgeous as any other Apple product.
The Acer is a PC, so it'll be hampered by Media Centre, is running Vista (gag reflex), so the 1.6GHz Atom vs the Apple's 1GHz Crofton might not make as much difference in performance as one would think. But the Acer is more open, and you're not tied to the Big Brother of iTunes. you theoretically get a faster CPU, graphics hardware assist, nice chunk of memory (at least 1G of which, of course, Vista will not be able to use as it's a 32-bit OS). You get a bigger hard disc.
The Acer may or may not be able to play PC games, as Roger pointed out for reasons of disc protection (and assuming one stays honest and resist the opportunity to download the no-CD hacks).
My first impressions - it needs to be the same price as the Apple TV to compete - and the remote has to be excellent. By the way your review doesn't mention what kind of remote and/or keyboard options will be provided. I think the product might sink or swim depending on its usability.
Linux can't succeed without a Powerpoint alternative
Bought my daughter an EEE PC 701, Linux OS. She loves it because it's small. light and responsive (fast on, fast off etc.). I like it because I don't need to worry too much about malware (her desktop PC became infected with the AV360 and it was a "nuke and pave" to fix it).
But as a credible road warrior platform, the netbook with Linux has to run somethng that can compete with Powerpoint. While I applaud the efforts of the OOO Impress team to get something that opens Powerpoint files, when it comes to displaying those presentations I'm afraid Impress is simply unusable.
To Dana W - OSX and KeyNote - now THAT'S a presentation platform!!!
Incidentally I put my points on the OOO message board about the poor animation support in Impress and a person who appears to be a lead developer of Impress commented "I never use animation, so you shouldn't either". I'm sure he's a nice chap, but he's a developer. No concept of "know your market". Shame.
Alien icon - because OOO developers are on another planet :-) But let's be thankful they exist, because it goes some way to making Microsoft try harder.
@AC what are the threats?
Just to clarify there are two distinct issues:
- Because Huawei is providing the MSANs for (theoretically) 50% of the 5,500 telephone exchanges in 21CN then these devices could be used to intercept phone calls or internet traffic.
- Because Huawei is providing optical transmission for 21CN, then China could simply "switch off" (or threaten to switch off) these devices in the event of some conflict. I suppose also that Huawei could introduce "bugs" or other issues to these devices so that it wasn't immediately obvious that this was a deliberate attack.
The security service report says that while these events are unlikely, the impact if they were to happen is highly significant.
As other people have pointed out, various aspects of UK communications and defence are now provided by foreign suppliers. Even items we might think of as Made in Britain use components or software created abroad.
I'm really not sure how credible these threats are. But in terms of conflict with China, we've certainly has our spats in the not too distant past (Tibet, for example). You have to think that using the "Huawei off switch" is only going to be possible once - so our disagreement would have to be pretty significant :-)
Marconi and 21CN
Marconi lost three aspects of 21CN: the MSAN, the iNode and the optical transmission. In the case of the MSAN and iNode Marconi were the clear technical winners, but they were not able to meet BT's pricing terms. Ciena was technically the best for optical. Huawei was the cheapest for MSANs and optical, and Huaweu promised it would all work the way it was supposed to.
MSAN went to Huawei and Fujitsu. iNode went to Ericsson. Optical went to Huawei and Ciena.
So, once they got their products from the lowest bidders, BT now had the challenge of deploying this stuff. As we know, 21CN is now 2 years late on a schedule that already slipped.
Some of those delays are because the Huawei MSANs don't work the way Huawei said they would. So you'll find more Fujistsu gear being installed than Huawei.
The majority of the delays are being put down to iNode issues with the Ericsson softswitches. When Ericsson bought Marconi in 2005 I assumed they'd deploy the Marconi softswitch in 21CN, but for some bizarre reason Ericsson cancelled that product and laid off all the staff. Today, with the Ericsson home-grown softswitch still nto working, they are looking to deploy Sonus in 21CN. How screwed up is that?
So should Hewitt have intervened and saved Marconi? That's a tough one to answer because protectionism is always a bad thing. But the question arises as to why BT was so stupid as to buy lowest bidder products for a project as significant and challenging as 21CN. It was always going to be hard, but by buying cheap they just made it impossible.
Now we see these fears about security issues. Once again, BT should probably have thought a bit more strategically about this.
Penny wise, pound foolish I say. If BT had bought iNode and MSAN from Marconi, 21CN would be a lot less late. And if they's bought optical from Ciena/Marconi we wouldn't be facing these strategic security concerns.
By the way, in terms of a threat, it's hard to intercept traffic at the optical layer - but it does give the Chinese the ability to turn off the network from afar (like the Russians can switch off our gas).
But the MSANs are different. If they are compromised then theoretically the Chinese could intercept phone calls and internet traffic.
Of the two threats I think the "big remote off switch" is more worrying.
@Steve in Manchester
Actually I think VDSL would be ideal for folks like you who currently have a long copper loop out to the exchange. As I understand it (disclaimer alert), if BT deploy VDSL at your exchange they would run a fibre cable to within a short distance of your home. Exactly how close they would come is dependent on several logistical, technical and local planning factors. But the idea is they'd cut out a lot of that 4 mile copper local loop, and only use the last 100m or so of existing copper cable into your home.
So despite the fact that you're so far from the exchange, you'd still get these high speeds of VDSL connection. You'd then find that the bottleneck becomes the backhaul from your exchange, as I described above.
Your point is well taken. But that actually confirms my point about the Digital Divide. And by the way, I'm not sure we should be comparing ourselves to sub-Saharan Africa :-) How about comparison with France, or Germany?
My line *could* run at 18Mbit/s if BT invested in ADSL2+ at the exchange. My line *could* run at 8Mbit/s if BT invested in a decent backhaul connection from that exchange. Myline *could* run at 2Mbit/s if it weren't for all the other folks in the village who insist on using their broadband at the same time as me in the evening (gosh the nerve :-) ).
But in reality my line runs at 2Mbit/s during the day, and drops close to zero at times in the evening.
How fast is "fast enough"? I am certainly thankful that I get an always-on (or mostly on) connection that runs fast enough to get email all the time, and can usually get the low-res BBC iPlayer with only one or two stutters. so please don't think I'm ungrateful.
But surely the government should be focusing on making sure that everyone in the UK can access a decent speed of broadband. Spending money to upgrade the local loop is pointless if you don't invest in lowering the contention rates.
This is the same point that Simon Painter made.
And by the way - the current, misleading "all you can eat" business model does not help. The ISPs have painted themselves into a corner with the low cost broadband model. I pay £21 a month for my PlusNet service - so why can't I expect three times better speed than the entry level services?
The economic model is broken.
...and what about the backhaul?
It's great to hear about local loop technologies that could deliver "up to" 83Mbit/s over telephone cable. But the adoption of these technologies will just widen the "digital divide" in this country.
In my case line checks indicate that I could enjoy up to 18Mbit/s if my exchange was equipped with good old ADSL2+. But I'm on a "Market 1" exchange so that's not scheduled to happen until 2011. I mean - who the heck needs VDSL when I could get 18Mbit/s from ADSL2+?
But in the meantime my router runs the line at 8Mbit/s - and the fastest I can get on a speed test is 2Mbit/s. That's because the backhaul from my exchange runs over a piece of wet string.
I don't live on some remote Scottish island, this is a location that's only 1 mile from my exchange, which is itself only 2 miles outside Nottingham.
Windows for mobiles
Disclosure: I do not own an iPhone, I have an HTC Touch Diamond, and having sat next to somebody who does have an iPhone I realised what a pale shadow of an imitation the HTC really is.
The instant response of the iPhone was breathtaking. In contrast the HTC is a clunky piece of crap. And half the time I need to bypass their "TouchFlo" interface and just open a crappy Windows menu.
Windows Mobile might be acceptable in a standard phone (ie. with a physical keypad), but it's absolutely useless for touch screen phones.
The iPhone needs no stylus, while I use the stylus all the time on the HTC. I honestly cannot believe why anyone branded the HTC as an "iPhone killer". And I've been told it's one of the best of the Windows touch screen phones!
To be fair, I think the iPhone is too big, and it's Apple, so it's a closed system (no removable battery, no data memory expansion, sub-standard camera, no Flash, etc.).
I'm now getting too embarassed to answer calls in public on my HTC just in case an iPhone owner sees how shite it looks :-)
The good news is that my phone upgrade is due in March. Unless a miracle occurs and Nokia releases an iPhone-like GUI for Symbian, I will be going back to a "conventional" phone with physical keys.
Arbitration, not law courts?
This poor woman had her life ruined by some animal in a bar. An animal, by the way, who recently repeated his "outburst".
For those of you who think this lady "doesn't look that special" maybe you'd like to consider how you'd feel if this was your friend, your sister, your daughter or your girlfriend. Whatever we might feel about the "value" of a modelling career, she is a human being.
Her entire career was based on how she looks, and she lost it in a second. As somebody who would never make a career from my looks the nearest comparision I could make is if that stupid git of a doorman had whacked me on the head and left me brain damaged.
Is a legal challenge the right way to deal with this? Well, personally I think it's overkill. But what other response does she have? Free speech is one thing, but when that argument is used to justify everything from ignorant insults through to right wing neo-nazism, maybe there ought to be a way to ask blog sites to just take the offensive content down.
The problem is, of course, who decides what is offensive? In this case I think it's clear cut. this entire blog is a callous tirade against an innocent individual. It has no value. Take it down.
Snappy German translation
OK, there HAS to be a single German word for synergy-related headcount reduction. I don't speak German so I fiddled with Babel Fish for few seconds.
It's the word "related" I seem to be having a problem with. Any German scholars out there who can help?
Best I can do so far is Synergieverbundenangestellterbeseitigung. It seems altogether too "hasty" as the Ents would say.
NAT isn't all bad...
NAT is a mega-kludge,there's no doubt about that.
As several people have mentiojned, it was "invented" (I prefer "congealed") to help sort out the IPv4 address exhaustion issue. But along the way we discovered something quite useful when we use it.
Port Address Translation (whch is actually what we're referring to here) allows us to use private IP addressing in the home or office, and pipe all that traffic through a single (or smal number of) public IPv4 addresses.
By the way - even if we do reclaim every unused IPv4 address there still won't be enough to go araound - with or without NAT/PAT.
The ability to use private addressing is a useful way to make home networking "plug and play" (sort of), and is also useful for network security purposes. I'm sure there are may other examples of why it's useful.
So even if IPv6 was wdely adopted, I suspect most people would retain PAT to allow us to deploy private IPv6 address space "inside" the firewall - both at home and in the office. At that point all the NAT/PAT problems listed here are still there. They don't go away just because you use bigger addresses. PAT inherrently removes the end to end paradigm (oh feck, I used the "p" word" - don't forget to mark your BullShit Bingo cards) of the Internet.
Even if I moved to IPv6 native (not tunneled), I would still have to set up port forwarding to my eMule server on my home network. And that eMule server would till have to be given a static IP address, not DHCP.
I do acknowledge that NAT or PAT are dreadful kludges, but you have to admit it's a miracle they work at all. A genuine triumph of brute force over...well ingorance is a rather churlish word, but you know what I mean.
Happens every day thanks to Google Alerts
I agree that the deliberate use of a botnet probably makes this a form of insider trading. Except one could argue that the news was already in the public domain!
This happens to me almost every day - I receive Google alerts that turn out to be "old" news. I'm not sure how or why this happens but Tony hit the nail on the head - there needs to be some general best practice for the news industry to use date and time stamps.
Yes, very sad...
...that we have to rely on the Americans for help.
WW2 was probably the last major conflict that was fought for truly noble reasons. It was a struggle against two fundamentally and indisputably evil empires - Nazi Germany and Japan. Britain managed to hold out alone for a while, but let's not kid ourselves - to actually beat Germany and Japan we needed the Yanks then too.
Given that there were times during the war when the whole thing could have literally swung the opposite way it's clear that Station X played a decisive part.
It is a national disgrace that we are allowing the site to fall into disrepair.
But on the other hand it's one of several national disgraces we're facing right now - rationing of drugs on the NHS, third world public transport, inadequate electrical generation, crumbling social structure. But surely the money could be found by simply capping the expenses of a few MPs.
Fuck me this is depressing, I'm off to the pub!