* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

China's LeEco eyes up US, takes on, er, Apple, Samsung, Netflix, Tesla

DougS Silver badge

Re: I could see risking a phone for $299

Not sure what difference it makes that it runs Android versus running some 'proprietary' smart OS that 9 times out of 10 these days means Linux + a proprietary GUI. Either way you will get built in security holes, most of which you will never see fixes for.

The mention of the TV's camera reminds of last night Blindspot episode where they were looking for a fugitive hacker in a Bulgarian hotel. The NSA officer pulls out her laptop and hacks into the hotel's network to access the camera on the TVs in the rooms. There is one room where the camera is covered up, so she correctly assumes that must be the hacker's room :)

DougS Silver badge

I could see risking a phone for $299

But an 85" TV for $3999? You need to build a bit of brand equity before an unknown company can sell something like that.

I won't even get into the idea of paying probably 10x more than that for a car. Where do you take it to have it serviced if it breaks down? Buying Tesla would be a big enough risk for me considering their nearest service center is several hours away from where I live, but at least that's in the same hemisphere!

Cheapest Apple iPhone 7's flash memory is waaaaay slower than pricier model

DougS Silver badge

Re: Which models get sent for review?

I'm not sure Apple provides phones for reviewers, they have to buy their own.

Anyway, this guy is just a web blogger, even if they send review phones to major sites like CNET he wouldn't get one.

DougS Silver badge

Sequential write speed is not really relevant for a phone

Random write speed does matter though - any word on what the difference is between the models for that metric?

Meanwhile, in America: Half of adults' faces are in police databases

DougS Silver badge

Re: And when it seriously goes wrong?

Wow, I hope he successfully sued the Denver PD for $10 million and they fired all the cops involved in that arrest!

European Telecoms Standards Institute to World+Dog: please start caring about 5G

DougS Silver badge

No one cares because it isn't really needed

Seriously, Qualcomm's first gen / test 5G chip can do 5 gigabits - what's the use case for that in a phone or tablet? Or even your home internet connection? There is none, because even Blu Ray quality 4K video is 100 Mbps at the most. Even if you are streaming a half dozen streams to your whole family you don't need 5G.

Visual media is the richest and densest sensory input humans are capable of, we've gone from text to audio to video and with 4K are taking video about as high as we can. OK maybe in a decade once everyone has bought a 4K TV they'll start pushing 8K, but at some point people will just stop caring because no one can tell the difference.

We haven't even come close to hitting the limits LTE offers us. The LTE most of us can get where we live is less than 10% of the maximum speed it is capable of, and when you're getting 40 Mbps on your phone most of us aren't bitching and moaning about why it isn't 100 Mbps, let alone 1 Gbps.

I think 5G with its crazy 28 Ghz and 60-70 GHz bands will have two main uses. One, fixed wireless for home internet - LOS restrictions aren't a problem if it just needs to get to an antenna connected outside your window or on your roof. Of course at those frequencies you will lose internet when it rains really hard... Two, large open gatherings like stadiums, concerts, etc. where you temporarily have a ton of people in a small area without obstructions, and need to supplement the normally available cellular infrastructure.

Trump vs. Clinton III - TPP looks dead, RussiaLeaks confirmed

DougS Silver badge

The president can't unilaterally agree to such treaties. Congress has to approve it first, and since most democrats oppose it (and all such trade deals - look at how few democrats supported NAFTA versus the near universal republican support when congress passed it) there would need to be significant republican support. That seems unlikely given that any republican who votes for it would be in immediate danger of losing a primary challenge to a Trump follower in the next election.

Pretty sure TPP is dead even if Hillary flip flops once she's in office.

Just what Europe needs – another bungled exit: Mars lander goes AWOL

DougS Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Am I understanding this correctly?

NASA's spacecraft orbiting Mars just happened to go into safe mode right at the same time contact was lost with the EU spacecraft?

This will provide a lot of fodder for the conspiracy theorists!

Coming soon to smart home devices? Best Before labels – with patch cut-off dates

DougS Silver badge

Not sure this "expiration date" helps consumers much

Sure, people who read El Reg know the security risk of IoT devices and the importance of patches, but the average consumer probably associates patches with Flash constantly bugging you to update or Windows wanting to reboot at an inconvenient time and might go out of their way to buy the one with the shortest patch window!

The other problem is just because the OEM has committed to delivering "patches" through 2020 doesn't mean all security issues will be addressed. Sure, if some really bad exploit comes out that could be used to cause your toaster to set your house on fire they'll fix it, but if there's something that can cause your toaster to go from off to some sort of warmup state that consumes 100 watts 24x7 they might ignore it.

DougS Silver badge

Re: My Toaster...

Unless it won't work without being connected, who cares? Yeah, you'll pay more for that, but that's not different than if you need a toaster capable of handling four slices and the one you want comes with a bagel setting and defrost setting that you don't need.

I've seen some LG TVs recently that seem to be unable to complete setup without connecting them, but that's solved by connecting ethernet or a dummy wireless network temporarily and then disconnecting it later.

No, Russia is not tapping into Syria's undersea internet cables

DougS Silver badge

Re: Metre-Thick Shielding

Not to mention that you'd need a supertanker to be able to carry something that heavy and bulky even if you could lay it!

Ecuador admits it cut Assange's internet to stop WikiLeaks' US election 'interference'

DougS Silver badge

Corruption vs corruption

Hillary has been proven to be corrupt in her political dealings, and Trump has been proven to be corrupt in his business dealings. Not that most politicians aren't corrupt, but it is nice if you can preserve the illusion they are not for at least a little ways into their term...

Is it any surprise that 25% of millennials surveyed recently said they'd prefer a giant meteor hit the Earth and destroy all life to having either one as President? (See #giantmeteor2016 hashtag for the origin of this meme; it is hilarious it got enough traction for a pollster to ask about it!)

DougS Silver badge

Surely Assange's room has a window?

Assuming he has a cell phone, a "contingency plan" won't be that hard to arrange given that tethering is pretty simple stuff and data allowances are more than good enough for email and ordinary web surfing. He might have to cut back if he's got a Netflix habit, though.

I don't understand what this is meant to accomplish though. It isn't as if all the stuff being released is sitting on his computer and cutting him off prevents it. It won't affect the release of materials at all, it is just an annoyance to him.

DougS Silver badge

@Big John - these emails are not from Hillary's server

They are John Podesta's emails. Try and justify it as "public good" all you want, but if someone had hacked Trump's emails and Wikileaks was releasing contents that made him look bad pretty sure you'd be singing a different tune and Trump would be claiming that Wikileaks is part of the vast rigging and conspiracy against him that these days includes pretty much everyone except Putin and the people who attend his rallies.

HomeKit is where the dearth is – no one wants Apple's IoT tech

DougS Silver badge

Re: But I don't want any of them

Nights vary in temperature everywhere, but like I said even my $50 Honeywell figures out when it needs to start heating to get the house to temperature so if I have it set to have the house at temperature X at 7:30 it will start heating earlier and have it at that temperature at 7:30. Nest provides no advantage there.

I could buy an external temperature sensor for it, but I've never seen the value of having a thermostat inside my house know what temperature it is outside. It can already tell when it is 0F outside versus 40F outside based on how quickly the house loses heat, there's little point to giving it exact information whether via an external sensor or having it able to access the weather over the internet. My house is at the programmed temperature in the morning regardless of how cold it was outside that night, so whatever it is doing doesn't need improvement as far as I'm concerned.

Besides the outside temperature is only part of the picture. I have an older house that despite my best efforts is more drafty / not as well insulated as a new one, so it loses heat more quickly when it is really windy out. I wonder if the Nest is smart enough to take that into account - and exactly how it knows how well insulated your house is? My thermostat is (as far as I know) basing it on how quickly heat is being lost, so if the heat loss of 20F and 20 mph winds is equal to 0F and 0mph winds, it will start heating the same number of minutes before the designated time.

Yes yes, knowing the outside temperature does have one use - it helps if the temp is changing dramatically over a short time, as when a cold front is coming through. If it was 40F and calm at night and my house was losing heat very slowly, and then a couple hours before I was due to wake up a strong cold front blew in with gusty winds, my thermostat may start adjusting the temperature up "too late", because it wouldn't know that it is now 20F with a 30 mph north wind. If I had an outdoor temperature sensor (and it used it, I think in mine it would be used for controlling auxiliary heat if you have a heat pump instead of a gas furnace like I have) it would know it has suddenly grown colder and start heating earlier. If I cared about that I'd get a thermostat that could handle it, but having it be a couple degrees colder than it "should" when I wake up is something I probably wouldn't even notice, and wouldn't care about for the two or three days a year this sort of thing might happen. I have more variability than that in my body's internal "thermostat" :)

DougS Silver badge

Re: But I don't want any of them

Programmable thermostats can easily "figure out the response characteristics of your radiators". The $50 programmable thermostat I have will reach temperature X at time Y, not start warming up at time Y. Apparently you were comparing your $250 Nest to a $10 bargain basement thermostat your house originally came with.

As for detecting whether your living room is unusually empty, occupancy sensors are hardly a new idea that Nest came up with. They've just been able to successfully con you with phrases like "response characteristics of your radiators" into thinking they are doing something novel in the world of thermostats.

The only "new" thing they do is this idea that they will figure out your habits and program themselves. If someone is too stupid or lazy to figure out "this is when we wake up, this is when we go to work/school, this is when the kids come home from school except on Thursdays when they get out an hour early, this is when we go to bed" to program it for each day, I guess spending the extra $200 for a Nest is worth it.

You can always tell when someone is defending pointless technology because the first thing they resort to is calling people who don't agree with them "Luddites".

DougS Silver badge

Re: But I don't want any of them

Agreed. It is not surprising Apple is not getting any traction in a market where no one is getting any traction pushing useless IoT gimmicks on unwilling consumers.

Nest has been cleverly marketed at geeks who think it offers advantages over a standard programmable thermostat (which it doesn't) but that's about the only IoT product that has had any mass market success. But even despite that success Google will never recoup even half of the $3.2 billion they wasted buying them.

Another problem is there are way too many "standards" in IoT - too many for communication and too many for APIs. Apple adding one more is just more salt in the gaping wound on a patient that is bleeding out while the doctor is telling everyone its just a scratch.

Microsoft keeps schtum as more battery woes hit Surface sufferers

DougS Silver badge

Could you possibly announce you're planning to vote for Trump? Seeing his hair catch on fire during tonight's debate would make for great TV!

DougS Silver badge

They were promised "just" $200??

And they were OK with that? You can buy replacement battery kits (i.e. including the screwdriver etc. you need) for an iPad for less than 1/5th of that, and even Apple charges $99 - half as much - to do it for you.

NFL is No Fondleslab League: Top coach says he'd rather use pen and paper than Surface tab

DougS Silver badge

Poor Microsoft can't win with the NFL

At first coaches, players and TV announcers kept calling them iPads, so Microsoft made sure they had prominent branding on them that's highly visible. Now that everyone knows what they are, the best coach in league history publicly announces they suck.

I'd almost feel sorry for them, if not for all those years of extending and extinguishing when they were kind of the mountain!

Google has unleashed Factivism to smite the untruthy

DougS Silver badge

What about politically charged "facts"

Climate change is the classic example. If fact checkers claim climate change is real, a third of the electorate will simply disregard everything they have to say.

Or how about Trump's claim that the murder rate in NYC is "skyrocketing"? Well, in 2015 it went up a little from 2013/2014, but it had been dropping for over 20 years (starting with Dinkins, continuing with Guliani and Bloomberg, and the start of de Blasio's term) The rate in the first quarter of 2016 was the lowest ever recorded, if that continues 2015 will turn out to have just been a blip.

So which of these three "facts" matters - that it was higher in 2015 than 2014, that 2015 was still a fraction of what it was in the late 80s/early 90s peak, that Q1 2016 was the lowest ever recorded? When you can't simply put a "true" or "false" label on something, it becomes more difficult.

DougS Silver badge

That question is only relevant if there is some solution for this. You can fact check Trump all you want but most of his voters don't care about the truth - to them the truth is what he says it is.

Then you get to fact checking Clinton, and her labyrinthine explanations about her email server have evolved so much it isn't clear exactly what "fact" you're trying to check.

Samsung airport exchange

DougS Silver badge

Or, its a constant reminder for every traveler that Samsung made the only phone ever to be banned from flights.

Samsung to fab 10nm FinFET SoCs for next year's exploding phones

DougS Silver badge

Re: Industrial Sabotage?

Hello Donald Trump, shouldn't you be get back on the campaign trail?

DougS Silver badge

Tired of last week's joke?

Guess you don't like it when for a change Samsung is taking on the chin from El Reg instead of Apple! You will probably be seeing references to exploding phones in Samsung articles for at least a year from them, better get used to it!

As for Intel, first of all Samsung's 10nm is not all that much better than Intel's 14nm, is nowhere close to Intel's 10nm, and isn't as good as TSMC's 10nm either. See: https://www.semiwiki.com/forum/content/6160-2016-leading-edge-semiconductor-landscape.html.

Secondly, you're an idiot if you think x86 premiums have anything to do with a process lead. It is because Intel has an effective monopoly on high performance x86 CPUs. Only AMD designing and Global Foundries fabbing CPUs that can beat Intel's top CPUs consistently for several years would cut into Intel's profit margin - like they did with the Opteron and Athlon 64 before Intel finally abandoned the Pentium 4 dead end and went with Core.

SHA3-256 is quantum-proof, should last billions of years

DougS Silver badge

You mean PUBLICLY KNOWN quantum computers

...capable of attacking hash algorithms don't exist. There's no guarantee about what the NSA might have, or what IBM invented in their basement that they decided is too useful to let people know about. Or maybe don't have now but will in five years.

So probably better to stay out in front of this stuff, and give people time to adopt algorithms secure against quantum computing now.

AI software should be able to register its own patents, law prof argues

DougS Silver badge

If I work for a company, they own my inventions

Doesn't a computer "work" for whoever bought it and is paying for the electricity?

Mysterious algorithms, black-box AI recruiters are binning our résumés

DougS Silver badge

If they want to automate this stuff

They should have a web site where you go and check off boxes for various skills and add number of years of experience, etc. Ideally it would be a standard format so you could just attach it to your resume and your resume goes back to being the thing that people read, and the standard skills form is what goes into the database.

It is ridiculous trying to alter a resume designed for humans to read to try to make it easier for machines to read, especially when different ones will like it written one way and others will like it another. You shouldn't have to do detective work on what sort of ATS the company you are applying to has and tweak your resume to fit.

Maybe this is why tech hiring managers keep claiming there is a skills shortage - people with the desired skills don't have properly tweaked resumes to fit their system so they never get seen by a human!

Spain's iPhone killer actually a rebranded Xiaomi – new claim

DougS Silver badge

Re: Not illegal

It is illegal if you are getting subsidies from your government for products that are supposed to be locally made that are not.

I don't know the letter of the law regarding those subsidies, but pretty sure buying a pre-made product and replacing the back cover does not count as locally made. That would be like me buying stalks of bananas, cutting them down to bunches and selling them as "locally grown produce".

London cops strap on new body cams

DougS Silver badge

Solution for optional activation

If you're in the office, it could detect the wifi network or something similar and deactivate. No reason to film cops doing paperwork, etc. and they obviously would have surveillance cameras there anyway.

Outside those areas, you should be able to turn it off but it should make a beep every 10-15 seconds to remind you that its off, and serve as a notice to the public that its off. So if you go to the bathroom, you turn it off, and when it keeps beeping it reminds you to turn it back on again. Ditto if you are conducting a sensitive interview - it lets the person being interviewed know the camera is still off (though perhaps in such situations the cop just removes the camera, speaks into it "I'm removing it because I'm going to interview a rape victim who doesn't wish to be on camera" and when he retrieves it it'll be beeping to remind him to put it back on.

Location boffins demo satellite-free navigation

DougS Silver badge

Re: Possible yes, but probably not sensible

Tuning to particular frequencies shouldn't be a problem, a cell phone is able to tune to multiple different ranges of frequencies for all the various wireless standards. You can get satellite IF band tuners that digitize a 2 GHz+ range and support multiple demodulators working in parallel anywhere in the band. So I really don't see that part as a problem.

Assuming the cell/TV towers are broadcasting a highly accurate time source (altering regulations to make them do so if they currently aren't, I suppose) and the receiver has a highly accurate clock - i.e. one of those newfangled atomic clock on a chip (assuming mass production of millions of them would bring the price down to reasonable levels) then determining distance from the source is simple enough. Obviously along with the highly accurate clock you'd want them to broadcast their exact GPS coordinates - that will aid you in determining if you are seeing reflections or the original signal. That's not foolproof, but using voting type methods you can throw out signals that don't make sense when they disagree with the others you are receiving.

Then your only problem is pinpointing the exact direction where each signal came from. This is what I think the problem would be. Using MIMO you can get a pretty good fix, but well enough to triangulate your position to the same level of accuracy as GPS? I highly doubt it. Maybe on a car if you had antennas on each corner of the roof you can get enough resolution, I don't know.

DougS Silver badge

Better to have accurate dead reckoning

Pretty sure I recently read about an advance in acceleration MEMS that would make dead reckoning work well enough that you could go for hours without a GPS fix and still have well under a meter of position error.

That would be the ideal, as you wouldn't need a constant fix just an occasional really good fix to correct the accumulated error. The rest of the time you wouldn't need to rely on any outside signal sources. Probably the best way to get such a super accurate fix for a car would be (longer range) NFC type devices built into the road every few miles that the car can read to fix the tiny accumulated dead reckoning error.

Building devices into the road would also fix the "Australia problem", since as the continent moves, so do the roads and everything built into them :)

DougS Silver badge

Re: Very useful. Not.

You wouldn't have GPS coverage if it was jammed, or the satellites were knocked out by enemy attack or solar flares. Always good to have a backup.

'Pork Explosion' flaw splatters Foxconn's Android phones

DougS Silver badge

They assemble exactly as Apple tells them, using parts that Apple provides or specifies. So if there is anyone to blame for whatever method the FBI used to access that outdated (pre Secure Enclave) iPhone 5c the terrorist was using, it is Apple not Foxconn.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Physical Access

Linux? Please, I've been running Linux on my desktop since the turn of the century but I'm not dumb enough to believe that Linux adds some magic invulnerability to security issues. IPtables and SSH do fuck all to help you against an attacker with physical access.

A security chip may not be 100% unbreakable, but if used properly the phone is WAY more secure than it would be if you rooted it and installed Linux. I don't know what pay TV companies you're talking about, but in the US Directv's system hasn't been broken since they were hacked in the early 2000s and revamped their security. And given they have stuff like the NFL Sunday Ticket exclusive, I'm sure many have tried to hack it.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Physical Access

I agree. Concentrate on making the encryption secure, then you won't have to worry about the phone being rooted. There will always be another security hole as soon as you close one up, so you have to make it so breaking the security gains you nothing.

Google: We look forward to running non-Intel processors in our cloud

DougS Silver badge

Re: 48V.

48 volts is the highest voltage allowed that still falls under "low voltage" regulations in the US (and I'll bet many other places as well) so it allows for maximum power delivery without requiring electricians to run / service it.

Galaxy Note 7 flameout: 2 in 5 Samsung fans say they'll never buy from the Korean giant again

DougS Silver badge

@That_Guy "there is information on this"

Yes, outdated information that Samsung relied upon when they did the first recall and thought the replacement phones would be fine. Clearly the batteries were not the problem, as getting two batteries made by different manufacturers BOTH having a problem of unprecedented seriousness is so unlikely as to be not worth considering. The batteries are not the problem, the phone itself is. They just don't know exactly how yet.

DougS Silver badge

Re: 30% never owned another brand?

The average person didn't have a cell phone 10 years ago, even in wealthy countries. I didn't have my first until 2000, and I only got one because I needed it for work. If it wasn't for that I wouldn't have owned one until less than a decade ago.

DougS Silver badge

Re: iPhone instead?

Not everyone bought a Note 7 because of the stylus. Some people probably just liked the size. Those people would be fine with an iPhone 7 plus, or Android phablet.

As for bundling with an Apple Pen. Ewww, I don't want to pay for something I have no interest in using. Anyway, Note 7 users probably wouldn't consider that a viable alternative unless they modified the design to have a place to keep the pen. If they did that I'd definitely not buy one!

DougS Silver badge

Re: I'd still like one

They don't even know what really has caused the problem yet, why are you dumb enough to think that after it has been charged and discharged a few times it will be safe?

DougS Silver badge

Re: I respect Samsung more now

You respect them for:

1) at first giving people the option to return their phones, but not recommending anyone should stop using them

2) only after the US Consumer Product Safety Commission forced their hand by ordering a formal recall did they tell people they should stop using them

3) rushed replacement phones out when they clearly had not found the root cause of the problem, because they were worried about bad publicity more than they were worried about insuring their customers had a safe product

4) because they are worried about offending their customers, they've still done nothing to insure/force Note 7 owners return or even stop using their phones, meaning there are hundreds of thousands still out there being carried onto planes, trains, buses and other places were they potentially endanger the general public

5) haven't retracted clearly erroneous statements like the claim that "only 1 in 42,000 phones is affected", which is obviously untrue just based on the number of fires reported in the US alone, and they can't know the true odds until they understand what the problem was, which they still don't

They were never out in front of the problem, always in reactive mode being prodded along by bad publicity (airlines telling people they can't use the phones on flights) and governments (US CPSC) to go beyond the half measures they wanted to do. They still haven't gone far enough until they do something to brick the remaining phones to prevent them from being a continued public menace that could cause further fires in the months to follow.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Highly Unlikely

Why would those who leave come back, unless they are unhappy with whatever brand they switch to? It isn't like Samsung phones are superior to other choices - they've just been the most effectively marketed Android phones thanks to Samsung spending over $10 billion a year to advertise them.

If they switch to Pixel or HTC, what brings them back to Samsung when they are ready for a new phone a couple years from now?

HP Inc to blast more humans from employment cannon

DougS Silver badge

Surely HP has negative employees now?

Perhaps they've discovered a clever tax dodge where having negative employees gives them some sort of tax credit?

Casino cops are coming if we can't move all this cash in a hurry

DougS Silver badge

Re: Thus proving..

But throwing money off a problem does?

Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi you, you're fired: Apple sacks staff secretly snapping shoppers

DougS Silver badge

3.5mm jack offs

El Reg has invented themselves a new term for Apple employees, I see!

New Brit Hubble analysis finds 2,000 billion galaxies, 10x previous count

DougS Silver badge

Yes. Eventually at least. Since these galaxies are at the edge of the observable universe, they would be very young. The big black hole in the galactic center probably is 'born' when the galaxy is, but all the little black holes born from collapsing stars take time to evolve, so there would be fewer of those there if we were able to zoom in enough to see those galaxies because they are so young to us "now".

DougS Silver badge

Re: Less dark matter/energy

The calculations of how much dark matter there must be are based on the Milky Way and other nearby galaxies. Having galaxies we didn't know about at the edge of the observable universe doesn't change that. The calculations of how much dark energy there must be are based on the expansion of the universe increasing. Having more galaxies at the edge of the observable universe can't cause that.

If we have 10x more galaxies, unless there's a reason to believe those galaxies have a different concentration of dark matter than the ones we've observed, there will be 10x more dark matter. If there are 10x more galaxies, unless there's a reason to believe the dark energy observations are a localized phenomena, there will be 10x more dark energy affecting those galaxies.

The exploding Note 7 is no surprise – leaked Samsung doc highlights toxic internal culture

DougS Silver badge

Re: Business as usual then

That's worse than what we'd see from any large US or UK company, though. I guess the labor laws in South Korea are a bit behind - probably when you have a single company that is responsible for a sixth of your entire country's GDP they exercise a lot more control over what laws are passed that the lobbyists that infest our politics do!

Soylent bars farting recall

DougS Silver badge

12.5% of the nutrients needed for a single day?

A quick Google tells me they have 250 calories, which is about 12.5% of the calories needed for a single day (depending on sex & weight) So wow, if you eat those you'll get an average amount of nutrients for the calories you are consuming....however did they manage such an impossible feat?

Surely there are about a million superior alternatives out there, many of which are in the form of 'bars' as well. I think this company sounds like a one trick pony that's basically the ironic name and that's it.

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