* Posts by Dave 126

7163 posts • joined 21 Jul 2010

Up close with the 'New Psion' Gemini: Specs, pics, and genesis of this QWERTY pocketbook

Dave 126
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Re: IndieNoGo

> I've had less bad experiences with Kickstarter. Is that just luck?

I can't speak about you specifically, but there has been research that indicates some individuals will consistently buy products or systems that fail in the market (thus never pick up 3rd party developer support, and lose vendor support), even if they are technically superior.

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Dave 126
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> they have to crowdfund rather than seek investors - because NOBODY else but fanatics under the illusion of hype will touch them.

Investors will want to make lots of money on a successful product, in part to cover the losses they make backing unsuccessful products.

You're correct in that vocal enthusiasm doesn't necessarily translate into high sales. In fact I commented here a couple of weeks back (before any Gemini announcements) about the idea of crowdfunding the Psion-style keyboard "that many Reg readers keep telling us they want". [I wrote it in the context of an industry wide modular system akin to Moto Mods. Moto Mods are a proprietary magnetic physical connector built atop the open Greybus electronic standard. It seemed to me that it would be cheaper to crowdfund a snap-on keyboard than it would an entire pocket computer]

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Dave 126
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> So why should it be a problem to get [this new keyboard] right?

It's not a total replica of the old keyboard - it uses a magnetically sprung mechanism, just for one example of a difference. Then there is the process of refining the manufacturing once the design is nearly finalised.

Good hardware can be a time consuming process to get to market, and there is nothing to be gained from assuming otherwise.

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Dave 126
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Re: 18:9?

In the words of Bender Rodriguez:

"Popular? I'm pure lowest common denominator, baby!"

Using the LCD to describe LCDs is useful... It's clear how much taller a 16:12 (4:3) screen is than a 16:9

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Dave 126
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Re: Entertaining

If it runs Android, why would Google care if you bought it in place of a Chromebook?

And for that matter, would ChromeOS work on this Gemini hardware for the educational market?

(A slightly larger device, effectively a clamshell Newton with keyboard, was made by Apple but only sold to schools. Name escapes me ATM)

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Dave 126
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The Reg has featured this device because their readers have been expressing a desire in such a device for years.

The hinge was a crucial part of the original Psion device - the Reg readers who used it know why - and not just a small detail.

This Gemini is still being crowdfunded, so I'm not surprised they haven't finalised the keyboard, which will be the hardest part to get right. Prototype, test, repeat. They will, but hardware development takes time when you're doing more than just assembling off the shelf parts from ODMs. There is no point in them showing off a V.0.6 keyboard.

Speaking of which, most other phones at MWC are boring oblongs, much like the one you probably own. The Gemini is interesting.

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Dave 126
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That's a valid point - even a small monochrome display on the outside would allow the user to see the number of an incoming call before answering.

One solution would be to use this Gemini with that Sony device that clips to a shirt pocket. It's a small Bluetooth device with small display, and is held to the ear like a mobile phone - but it also has a 3.5mm jack for a normal wired headset. It is also a standalone MP3 player and FM radio.

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Autonomous cars are about to do to transport what the internet did to information

Dave 126
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Re: Disruptivity

>As is pointed out in the article, come the robot revolution the price of mass produced consumer items will fall and volumes will rise, this includes personal transport.

The cost of cars will fall, but the cost of the land on which you have to park them probably won't.

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Dave 126
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Re: Trains

Wrong type of blood on the track.

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Dave 126
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Re: Instead of delivery, build on-site

>There will be racing tension between those who build on-site and those who ship finished goods.

You will still need to get the material feedstock, metals, plastics etc, to the 3D fabricator. It only changes factors like bulk - i.e a washing machine or fridge is bulkier than the materials used to make it.

EDIT: Charles and Steve beat me to it!

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Dave 126
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Re: Works for cities

>This will all work for cities, but not rural areas.

The article covered a few things, so I'm not clear as to what you don't think will not work in the countryside. Could you expand on it a little?

I didn't see anything in the article of a binary 'work/won't work' nature. In the future one might use Uber in a city, whereas in the countryside you might choose to own an autonomous vehicle for your own use, but then lend or hire it out when you are not using it - your ownership would give you priority. Today, the old lady without a car who lives next door doesn't mind when she gets a lift to the supermarket - she's happy to work in with the schedule of the neighbour who drives. Shopping is flexible, a hospital appointment isn't.

There are of course lots of factors. An example would be that in the countryside car parking isn't as tricky as it is in the city, a factor that can make Uber or Lyft more attractive than taking your own vehicle.

People in more rural areas are already used to things taking longer - today someone in a remote hamlet might take a half-hour round trip to a shop by car, whilst their cousin in a city pops a minute up the street by foot. Of course many people in more remote areas simply give more thought as to what they will need for the next few days.

For sure, a lower population density will mean greater distribution costs ( It is only because of legislation that the Royal Mail can't charge more to deliver to more remote addresses. )

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You're Donald Trump's sysadmin. You've got data leaks coming out the *ss. What to do

Dave 126
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Whilst this article was informative, I found this more entertaining:

Press secretary Sean Spicer is cracking down on leaks coming out of the West Wing, with increased security measures that include random phone checks of White House staffers, overseen by White House attorneys....

... Spicer also warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media. It's not the first time that warnings about leaks have promptly leaked. The State Department's legal office issued a four-page memo warning of the dangers of leaks, and that memo was immediately posted by The Washington Post.

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/02/sean-spicer-targets-own-staff-in-leak-crackdown-235413

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Motorola's modular Moto Z: A fine phone for a weekend away

Dave 126
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Re: Add-ons become obsolete with the phone... and if they're not very cheap....

> outside true industry standards you rarely see add-ons interoperability across brands.

Too true... I mean, there isn't even a standard for Android-compatible wired headset microphones and remote transport controls. Even within the same brand (Sony would use a different value of resistor in the headset between one generation of Xperia and another - and this is just the one I know of because I researched it). Meanwhile, every supermarket in the land stocks a choice of headphones with mic and transport controls that will work with all but the newest iPhone.

This lack of full headphone interoperability doesn't help Android brands steal customers from each other, but if they did knock their heads together they would erode one reason some people go with Apple.

Ironically for a 'closed' system, iDevices have always been well supported by third party peripheral vendors, from Sennhieser to Logitech - chiefly because they can be confident that Apple will sell X million units of a certain model for a couple of years. If Apple made iPhones with a similar module connector to Moto's, there would likely be more modules available than the few that Moto currently offers.

On that note, Moto's website says they have set aside $1 million to help people develop new modules, with the most promising developers winning a trip to Chicago. I wouldn't sniff at that, but can't help thinking I'd rather go somewhere warmer!

[ The only brand-specific 'module' I have ever bought for a phone - ignoring cases - is a stereo microphone for my Xperia Z3 Compact, using Sony's 3.5mm TRRRS port. It was made for the Z2, and wasn't recognised by name by the Z3C's software, though it did work. Now that my Z3C is awaiting anew screen that it probably will never receive, I've lent the microphone to friend indefinitely. ]

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Dave 126
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You're right,it is a shame... You could assemble yourself a 1980s style Gordon Gecko brick of a phone just by adding more battery modules! :)

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Dave 126
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Re: Stupid

> If I know I want better battery life from the get go, I'll buy a phone with a bigger battery.

What advantage would that bring you Charlie? Genuine question.

Lots of Reg readers have expressed a desire for a phone with swappable battery,and here it is but better (phone doesn't restart during battery swap)

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Dave 126
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Re: Battery life

Ug? There are no universal main batteries for mobile phones because most don't have removable batteries.

You can still use a generic USB power bank - this Moto system just gives you an extra option. I would imagine that the people who use their phone so much that they deplete their battery daily are largely the same people who don't want to be offline / uncontactable for a couple of minutes when swapping the phone's battery.

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Dave 126
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Better than my laptop, but it's a laptop I've had no urgent need to upgrade for many years.

I guess I have a great treat in store when I do eventually take the plunge - I'm still on spinning rust, FFS!

Because I'm in no hurry, I can sit back and wait for current interesting trends to mature, gain adoption and become more polished. When the time comes, it might well be a USC-C only laptop with external GPU... the awkard 'in between’ period will have passed me by.

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Dave 126
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Re: Add-ons become obsolete with the phone... and if they're not very cheap....

The electronic bits of the Moto Mod system are the open Greybus standard - it is only the physical bits of Moto’s implementation that are proprietary. Android largely sees Moto addons as an intrinsic part of the host phone, though the system allows for weird stuff that requires a custom app.

As an aside, it was rumoured that the iPhone 7 would include the same 3 pin magnetic connector that the iPad Pro uses for keyboards, but Apple decided against it.

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Dave 126
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Re: Battery life

I might even argue that a snap on external battery is a superior solution to a swappable main battery. Why? Because you can continue using the phone without turning it off and on again. In both scenarios you have to carry a spare battery anyway.

You could use the battery pack to avoid deep cycling the main battery, which really shortens the lifespan of Li-ion batteries.

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Dave 126
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Re: Oh ....

If it is an issue for some, it is far cheaper and easier to fix than, say, no microSD slot or too little RAM.

Really, a little dongle will save strain on the 3.5mm plug end of my headphone cable, which is often where they fail.

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Dave 126
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Re: Stupid

If you want it to be fatter and with more battery, put a battery pack on it.

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Dave 126
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Re: Oh ....

Fixed for 99p from eBay. MicroUSB > 3.5mm adaptor.

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Dave 126
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Re: Battery life

> I love the concept and it is a lovely phone .... but just too thin and the standard battery life is crap apparently.

So why not use it with the external battery module semi-permenantly?

The other modules are just place-holders for the module concept. If Moto were brave enough to open it out to other phone vendors, certain Reg readers could Kickstart the physical keyboard they keep telling us they want.

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Dave 126
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Yep. And of course the internal battery will be subject to fewer and shallower charge/discharge cycles so it will last longer. Basically, it allows for the most elegant external battery solution available.

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Dave 126
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Re: Add-ons become obsolete with the phone... and if they're not very cheap....

> In my experience, this kind of add-ons become obsolete together the only device that can use them - thereby very quickly

Indeed. This is why it would be great if Moto 'grew the pie' and opened their module system to other phone vendors.

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Google to annihilate online trolling with ... tra-la-la! Machine! Learning!

Dave 126
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Re: What a world to live in!

> I expect this to be deployed in "safe spaces" to administer a rightful tasering to anyone exhibiting more than his share of daily illiberalism.

Look, the best argument you can make against safe spaces is to use the intellectual freedom properly, and not just roll out some clichés or attack some stereotypes. If you're going to fight for the right to express well thought out views regardless of offending people, then think well.

Yes, there are some idiots on the left who are far too easily offended - and trust me, I talk to them firmly but kindly when appropriate. Even John Stewart would agree with you. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't some systemic issues which add up in a raw deal for many people, be them former coalminers or descendants of plantation workers.

Anyway,enjoy your Friday!

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Dave 126
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Re: What a world to live in!

Another tech blog noted that this Google system currently flags all text written in Arabic as 'toxic', so there is clearly work to be done.

There has also been the issue of webcams face tracking not working with black people ( the inverse of human controlled CCTV street cameras?), and another machine vision system categorising photos of black people as gorillas.

It would seem that it is all due to the sample sets that these systems are trained on, as well as the people doing the testing.

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We want Waymo money from you! Uber sued for 'stealing self-driving car' blueprints from Alphabet

Dave 126
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In order to use CC, your email client should insist that two keys are turned simultaneously in locks that are set 8' apart, in the style of a nuclear missile launch system.

The most insane thing about this story is that Waymo claims it was alerted to Otto and Uber’s alleged treachery by a mistakenly CC’d email. “Waymo was recently – and apparently inadvertently – copied on an email from one of its LiDAR component vendors. The email attached machine drawings of what purports to be an Uber LiDAR circuit board,” the complaint reads. “This circuit board bears a striking resemblance to Waymo’s own highly confidential and proprietary design and reflects Waymo trade secrets.”

- http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/23/14719906/google-waymo-uber-self-driving-lawsuit-stolen-technology

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Your next PC is… your 'Droid? Remix unveils Continuum-killer

Dave 126
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> I'll believe an Android phone can replace the desktop then it can do Crysis...3...at 60fps at full 1080p resolution or higher. THEN it'll have the oomph to replace my desktop.

By which time your desktop will run Crysis 4 at 120Hz at 4K HDR across three monitors. A bigger box will always be more powerful (greater room for heat dissipation).

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Dave 126
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Re: Windows tablets - when the touch screen driver craps out...

I think you've described a 'workaround', not a 'fix'! :)

Still, I didn't downvote you.

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Dave 126
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Re: I remember when I pointed this out last year

>I said last year that it was only a matter of time before your phone IS your PC as well. Got a lot of down votes for it. Which was very surprising on a tech site.

There is a difference between 'could be' and 'will be'. Here's the thing; this article doesn't vindicate you because this Remix OS is intended for people in poor countries who can't afford a computer in addition to thier phone. Most of us in the UK can find easier ways of doing things than using our phones as computers for little additional cost, such as using a laptop, using a Raspberry Pi or similar, using an Intel Compute Stick, using our phones with a Chromcast.

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Dave 126
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The issue has never really been about whether the SoC is powerful enough for useful desktop applications. The issues are based around the UI, the connection, the bloated nature of contemporary applications etc.

Phones with as much RAM (4GB) as my laptop and far greater resolutions (though that's more the GPU than the ARM CPU) are not uncommon now.

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Dave 126
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Re: One can only hope

>No, No they're really not, unless all you do with your PC is surf the net and read email.

Er, that's what a Personal Computer is used for. And a phone SoC has more than a enough grunt to run office applications, some light CAD, some simple image editing. Just because today's average desktop is the equivalent of yesteryear's workstation doesn't mean it has to be used for intensive tasks - most people don't need to run physical simulations or edit 4K video.

Still this Remix OS isn't intended for us - we don't need to to have our phones double up as a desktop computer because we can afford a discreet device - anything from a Raspberry Pi to an Intel Compute Stick. As the article says, Remix OS is intended for poorer countries.

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Neuromorphic progress: And we for one welcome our new single artificial synapse overlords

Dave 126
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Re: That's how to do IT

There are criticisms of the Human Brain Project, specifically its scope, ambition and management, though they are possibly par for the course for a project of its size.

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'At least I can walk away with my dignity' – Streetmap founder after Google lawsuit loss

Dave 126
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Re: Disgustingly Evil

>To be fair, it's not really a use-case per se. He's right that Google maps display far, far less information than the paper maps from OS that we used when orienteering as kids.

He was explaining why he didn't find Google Maps useful; it's impossible to define 'useful' outside the context of use.

In any case, there will always be people whose use for maps goes beyond what Google Maps, Streetmap or even OS Landranger can deliver. There is a lot of geographic information available if you pay for it. I remember ordering some CDs from Ordnance Survey for around £100 a pop containing *.XYZ files. These files are exactly what they sound like, and the roughly two million points in each file described the terrain of a small area of countryside - when opened in AutoCAD, one could make out features on the scale of roads and houses.

Similarly, some Soviet-made maps of the UK were made that had even greater detail than the OS possessed, such as how wide and strong bridges were. Their intended use? Aiding in an invasion of Britain without getting your tanks stuck.

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Dave 126
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Mobile phones

In 2007 most people didn't have a big-screened (i.e 4"+, no hard keypad) mobile phone. Touch-screen iPhones, feature phones and later Android phones - all with data connections and GPS - became the norm in the U.K.

Now, I find it more useful to look at maps when I am out and about than when I'm sat at home or work (where I know where I am). I imagine this is true of most people. Back in 2007 I would sometimes print maps from a desktop computer to take with me, but haven't done so for years, because I have a smartphone., or failing that, a ring-bound road atlas.

I sometimes still use the road atlas, but as a food tray on my lap so that I don't spill brown sauce on my trousers. This trouser-protecting feature is one that StreetMap and Google Maps both have yet to implement.

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Huge if true: iPhone 8 will feature 3D selfies, rodent defibrillator

Dave 126
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???

(I had just wanted to post '???', but The post is required, and must contain letters.. Never mind, it's just zmodem being moronic again. )

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Dave 126
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Re: The Unbelievable Truth

My favourite from the Unbelievable Truth went alongthe lines of:

"The word 'Shark' was coined by seaman Mark Cooper, when he fell into the ocean and attempted to use three different swear words simultaneously..."

It sounds so plausible!

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Nokia's 3310 revival – what's NEXT? Vote now

Dave 126
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Re: Power leads

I believe the microUSB connector is so designed that failure is more likely to occur on the (cheaply replaceable) Male cable side, and not on the expensive Female device side.

In the post-Nokia, pre-Android feature phone era, the likes of Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericcson were absolute buggers for seemingly never twice using the same power connector across their ranges. They really did deserve to have the EU knock some sense into their heads.

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Dave 126
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Re: Gotta be the Psion

>Perhaps something like Bluetooth pairing with a smartphone would be better for battery life.

Even better would be an industry-wide (or at least Android-wide) standard for a magneticmodule connector on the rear of the phone for bi-directional power and data, akin to the Moto Mod system. Such a connector, which could 'snap' components in place, would be ideal for keyboards, gamepads, batteries, special sensors (i.e Infrared camera, lens/sensor module etc), microphones, car docks, port extenders etc. I'm not talking about a full-on Project Ara system.

Bluetooth is more power efficient than it used to be, and more reliable (though I still sometimes meet a device that just won't connect) - but sometimes a physical connector is still better.

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Dave 126
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Re: Mr Fixit

Okay... you might have spent £25 on your Pi, or you might have spent £5, depending on model. You might conceivably find it cost effective to resolder the USB port if it became damaged... I'm hard pressed to think of another fault that would be.

When it comes to ecological concerns, it's generally better to make a very small reliable device than a big item that uses lots of materials. Just because something can be repaired doesn't mean that it will be, so lots of resources will have been wasted in making the components and component packaging bigger.

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Dave 126
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Re: Better than the Nokia 3310

Sadly the captain from Firefly fell into the Han Solo uncanny valley. If he was Han Solo, that would have been fine, had he been less like Han Solo that would have been fine... as it was, he was just too close for comfort.

Still, the Expanse is good, and both Killjoys and Dark Matter really find their own stride after their respective first seasons.

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Dave 126
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Re: Gotta be the Psion

>This is all theoretical anyway, because there's no sign there'll ever be an updated Series 5.

Who owns the IP on their keyboard? How easily could said IP be sidestepped to produce a similarly functioning keyboard? How easily could it be attached to a modern touchscreen phone with microUSB? Would you want to incorporate cylindrical batteries within the hinge so that such an implementation wound't be too top-heavy? What's the state-of-play of external phone keyboards on Kickstarter?

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Dave 126
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Re: Mr Fixit

The point of the glue is to reduce landfill - it is quicker to pass a batch of end-of-life products through an oven to separate components for recycling than it is to employ a person with a screwdriver.

Generally, I find modern kit more reliable than older kit, especially the older stuff with moving parts.

If you want some very good YouTube videos of old gadgets being repaired (usually strange audio kit) the you really should check out TechMoan:

https://www.youtube.com/user/Techmoan/videos

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Dave 126
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Re: Power leads

The 500mA limit was implemented by the receiving device if it was connected to a power source by a cable that didn't have its data pins shorted - the idea was to not to upset a computer's power system. These days most phones are happy to suck down as much current as they want, if the cable is of sufficient thickness and the power source can deliver it.

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Dave 126
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Re: Yes for the Sony Walkman

It was a helluva better form factor than the CD DiscMan.

Some of the pricier Walkmans were barely large than the cassette itself, and indeed were smaller than some phones in their cases are today.

The early nineties saw the Wireless Walkman - never released in the UK - which paired a Walkman with a matchbox-sized wireless audio receiver and transport control transmitter.

There were hundreds of Walkman variations, so I was mildly surprised to just see a generic 'Walkman' in this poll! :)

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Dave 126
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Re: Gotta be the Psion

>If they launched a new model with some hardware updates (Wi-Fi,

Aaaaaaand there goes your week long battery life! :)

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Dave 126
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Re: tones of battery life

Do Re Mi Fa Sol!

Looks like he fell between an Imperial and Metric measure! Actually, yesterday I was thinking about a battery in terms of weight - I'd stopped in a layby to make a call, and saw that someone had dumped a large truck battery in the hedgerow... thought of weighing it in at the scrapyard. Whilst it might not weight a ton, or even tonne, it'll weigh at lest an 'Ooffyoubugger'.

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Watch how Google's starving DeepMind AI turns hostile, attacks other bots to survive

Dave 126
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Re: Do no evil

Well, if Boston Dynamics have taken money from Darpa, and Darpa have chosen not to use BD's robots, that's Darpa money not spent on guns.

Darpa think that the robots are too loud for infrantry support... That doesnt rule them out for disaster relief applications.

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Dave 126
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Re: Do no evil

Mr Diesel, a pacifist, invented an efficient type of engine because he thought it would help people with food production and distribution. The diesel engine became a weapon of war.

It's hard to think of any technological advance that hasnt been put to use killing

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