* Posts by DougS

12862 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Divorcing ICANN and the US won't break the 'net nor stop the spooks

DougS Silver badge

I just don't see how this makes a difference

How exactly is the US benefiting from its kinda-sorta control over ICANN right now? The spying sucks, but that's because many important companies like Google, Cisco, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and so on are based here. And many internet connections pass through here or through other countries that are our spying partners like UK or New Zealand.

Like I said in another thread, if the hyenas take the kill from the lion, they immediately start fighting over the spoils themselves. You don't really think the countries of the rest of the world will take ICANN away from the US and not see an opportunity to exert more control over the Internet themselves, do you?

I think the bureaucrats at ICANN vastly overrate their importance, as most bureaucrats do.

Give it a wrist, fellas: Sony's back with $200 Android Smartwatch 2

DougS Silver badge

Re: Success

Its not about cool. People weren't cool for having smartphones or PDAs 10 years ago, because the functionality that they offered was something only a very small segment of people wanted.

With the rise of iOS and Android smartphones, they provided functionality that a lot of people wanted.

Right now the watches (and glasses) are like the smartphones or PDAs of 10 years ago, and do something only a small segment of the population wants (i.e. fitness) They'll need to add some additional functionality that a lot of people want to become successful. If no one solves that problem, they won't sell many, because a useless product isn't "cool" no matter who sells it, but a useful product isn't selling well because its cool, but because it is useful.

Having a watch notify you of a text message or call is useless, because the only way to continue the interaction is via voice. Unless you get a lot of calls and texts you ignore having the notification isn't the end of the matter. If you have to grab your phone anyway you haven't saved any time (not that taking your phone from your pocket is difficult, but presumably the idiots who design the current crop of smartwatches think so since that seems to be the only function they provide)

Do you really want to hold your watch to your mouth and speak texts in front of others, or alternate holding it by your ear and your mouth to have a phone conversation? Few people will, that's why what Sony is describing here will fail like all other smartwatches have (with the exception of the ones that fill that narrow market for fitness buffs, which are successes in a narrow market but aren't going to sell tons like smartphones in places full of fat lazy people like the US)

Apple's Steve Jobs was a SEX-crazed World War II fighter pilot, says ex

DougS Silver badge

Past lives

Isn't it amazing how 99% of people who claim to remember their past lives lived an exciting life, like a fighter pilot, or princess. Nobody seems to remember a past life as a stableboy or scullery maid.

Or, one of the most likely outcomes if they lived in the past, as someone who died of a childhood disease.

PLEASE let us build Fruit Loop Central, Apple begs Cupertino City

DougS Silver badge

How many people used to work on the HP campus?

If the numbers are comparable to the 12,000 Apple will have in this new building, any traffic issues wouldn't be worse than they were back when HP filled their buildings.

Actually traffic would probably be better than it used to be, since Apple and other high tech Silicon Valley companies have done more to encourage use of mass transit, car pooling, biking to work etc. lately than was typical back when HP was housed here.

On the other hand, if there used to be only 6,000 there, then I could see where there might be some worries about traffic.

Sorry fanbois, no supersize Apple fondleslabs for you

DougS Silver badge

Where's the market for a bigger tablet?

Smaller tablets are selling better than bigger ones, a 13" tablet would be a tiny niche product because it would compromise the portability versus a laptop that is the reason many tablet owners bought one in the first place.

Making the iPad screen denser seems unlikely to me, though if they come out with a tablet that has "40% more pixels" a bigger one is far more likely than a denser one of the same size. Hate quote a meme, but "2048x1536 ought to be enough for anyone" (in a 10" tablet) Yeah iPhone has higher dpi but you tend to hold it closer to your face. Apple tends to prefer doubling dimensions when they increase resolution, and 4096x3072 would be just ridiculous and pointless, and would waste a lot of the GPU's power dealing with that many pixels when most already can't see the pixels on the iPad (non-Mini) during normal use.

Hey banks: Use Win XP after deadline? You'll PAY if card data's snaffled

DougS Silver badge

I wonder what PCI will do about XP-based POS terminals?

There must be many millions of them about. Hopefully it'll be possible to upgrade most of them to 7 or 8, but lack of RAM or flash may become an issue for that.

Foxconn 'fesses up to labour breaches: Made students work long hours

DougS Silver badge

@jake

"jolt the iFad folks out of feeding their jones"? So they should instead buy from one of the companies in that lengthy list instead? If you wanted to have a Foxconn free house, you'd have to really look hard to make sure you find products that aren't built by them - so much of the world's CE products are. There are a lot of companies that use multiple sourcing, especially at product launch, so you might buy the same phone as your friend and get one built by Foxconn while your friend gets one built by someone else or in the manufacturer's own factories (for those CE companies that still have factories)

Its not as though TV sets or PCs come with a "made by slaves in a Foxconn factory" sticker next to the Intel Inside sticker. The rest of the companies on that list are just lucky that Apple takes the brunt of the negative publicity for Foxconn's practices, which is ironic because Apple's Foxconn employees are better paid and probably better treated than most of the rest. Granted, it was because of the negative publicity Apple was getting, but it is still a good thing regardless of the reason.

Avoiding buying anything assembled by Foxconn would like trying to avoid GMO food in the US, you'd end up spending a lot more and have your choices severely limited in some ways (i.e. eating out at restaurants)

Brazil's anti-NSA prez urged to SNATCH keys to the internet from America

DougS Silver badge

Re: Like it or not, the US DID invent the guts of the internet.

Most of us who live in the US are just as disturbed by what the NSA is doing as those of you living elsewhere. Unfortunately we can't get rid of this crap too easily, the only hope would be a shaky alliance of the very liberal and very conservative wings of the two parties outvoting those in the middle (and hoping the unelected bureaucrats actually obey the congress, or we get another brave patriot like Snowden to blow the whistle if they don't) Unfortunately our legislators are involved in a game of chicken to see if one side or the other bails out before we're driven off a cliff, so they're too busy to actually do their jobs.

DougS Silver badge

It might make them feel better

But I fail to see how whatever control the US government can exerts on those bodies really makes a difference.

What matters is how many companies important to the internet, such as Microsoft, Cisco, Google, Facebook and so on are based in the US and can be pushed around by its government, as well as how many international links travel via the US or its spy allies even when they don't really have to.

Even aside from that glaring issue, I think there's one other big problem they'll have to solve before they can do this. Imagine 200 hyenas stealing a kill from a lion. They all agree that they should take it away from the lion. Beyond that, they probably don't agree on who gets how much...

Streaming TV Aereo's enemies lob sueball into Supreme Court

DougS Silver badge

It will likely be granted certiorari

The broadcasters won in one district out west (guess what locale it includes) Because of that disagreement, it seems likely the court will hear it.

Depending on who wins and how broad the ruling is, they could with one stroke make cloud DVR services illegal, and possibly even place-shifting like Slingboxes and smartphone apps that amount to the same thing. So it will be very closely watched and there will likely be a lot of amicus curiae briefs submitted from many interested players on both sides.

NASA's Jupiter probe wakes up after unexpected snooze

DougS Silver badge

Radio hams?

So now they have to make space probes safe from DoS attacks? Wonderful...

Apple's iWatch to appear in 2014, will RULE your home – new claim

DougS Silver badge

Re: "what the hell good is it?"

Who says they'd sell all that stuff? They make a few accessories for iPods, iPhones and iPads, but mostly leave that up to third parties. Ditto for apps.

I think it is much more likely they'd sell an iWatch that relied on developers and gadget makers to help create demand for it by the products and software they created. Similar to how iTunes was never intended to make much money for Apple but to help sell iPods and later iPhones, because Apple makes 98% of its profits from hardware, and iTunes barely pays its running costs.

If it didn't use some sort of open protocol, maybe it can be broken, but why? If you don't like being in the Apple ecosystem, why would you buy an iWatch? If it is a hit, I'm sure it's functionality would be available on Android branded products eventually, and Samsung would call it S-something (too bad for them Swatch is taken)

Not sure how much market there is really for controlling your thermostat remotely, on a watch or a phone. That's mostly a geek thing, regular people want to set it and forget it. The only somewhat useful thing I can imagine is if it could track everyone so it knows when no one is home and can save energy, then returns to normal settings when one of the tracked residents is on the way home. But why would I need a watch for that?

It isn't clear to me how controlling anything using a watch is somehow better than controlling it with a phone. The guy claiming this rumor must envision a world with a lot of thermostat and appliance tweaking if he thinks the time savings not having to pull a phone from one's pocket is such a big deal Apple is basing a new product line on it.

Microsoft wants to 'move beyond' the Cookie Monster

DougS Silver badge

Those of us who have been around since before there was a web know it was AOL that started the decline. Google 'eternal September'.

DougS Silver badge

Microsoft is creating a new technology that only works within their own ecosystem?

Let's see if I care, do I use:

Bing? No

IE? No

Windows Phone? No

Windows? Rarely

Guess I don't have to care about this.

You'd think they'd be trying to create a standard to be adopted, since the days of Microsoft being able to create something and have it become a defacto standard based on their control of the market are long past.

Apple bags top Windows feature: Blue Screen Of Death arrives on iPhone 5S

DougS Silver badge

Re: 1% of 365

Ummm, do you think that it takes 24 hours to boot up after a crash or something?

Go ahead and tell me Android phones never crash, I'll have to tell my friends that their GS3s occasionally crashing when they take photos or send text messages is all in their heads.

I don't have a 5S, but my 5 did have one weird thing since I installed iOS 7. One time the top bar was missing on the home screen, so no listing of signal strength, battery life, etc. In apps when it was there, and on the lock screen it was there, but when I went to the home screen it would be wiped out for some reason. I simply powered it down, powered it back up again and all was well. No computer is foolproof, not even if it has an Apple logo on it or runs Linux.

Google: Now your mom will try to sell you toilet paper

DougS Silver badge

Google is removing the only grounds for someone to use Google+ over Facebook

Back when Facebook first started this kind of crap a fair number of people joined Google+ hoping to pull everyone away from Facebook because of what they were doing. I joined and ended up having about 20% of my Facebook friends in my 'circle' or whatever they call it.

I think it was over this very issue that many of us joined Google+ in the first place, but Facebook pisses people off and makes them threaten to leave every six months or so, so than a few tentative waves of people creating an account on Google+ hoping it might reach critical mass and replace Facebook, few ever actually leave. We just tighten our privacy settings after they undo them, or stop doing things that will cause problems with the new shit they're pulling (i.e. I unliked all but a handful of local businesses so I won't appear in ads on other people's feeds)

If it weren't for Facebook constantly eating away at privacy Google+ could have never got off the ground. Now Google is effectively killing it - why would anyone ever login to Google+ again (I only check it about every other month anyway because nothing ever happens there) when its policies are clearly on the way to becoming just as bad as Facebook's? At least with Facebook I actually have friends there I can keep in touch with, versus the tumbleweeds blowing around on Google+.

I should probably delete my Google+ account, but I think I'll leave it up to see how long it takes before Google shuts the doors. Since my myspace account is still around even though I last logged in in 2007, it might be a while. Guess it doesn't matter since I probably only posted about three things on Google+ anyway!

Swap your old iPhone for a new one, Tim Cook tells British fanbois

DougS Silver badge

Re: No idea

High end Android phones like GS3 or GS4 have considerably higher trade in value than that. They do lose their value notably faster than iPhones, but don't go down anywhere near as low as you suggest in a year.

This really only matters if you expect to replace your phone before it dies - tends to reduce the effective price of an iPhone since you know you'll get quite a lot out of it in 12 or 24 months when you decide to upgrade.

Facebook RIPS away your veil of privacy, declares NO MORE HIDING

DougS Silver badge

Real names optional

This is why I'm starting to see more of my Facebook friends using something other than their real name. There have always been some women who used their maiden name or middle name in place of their last name to keep stalkers from easily finding them. But lately I've seen some change their names to something totally made up - looks like they used one of those "what is your porn star name" type apps to generate them. They still use their page as before, they just use it under some weird name that makes you do a double take the first time you see their status in your feed and wonder how this person got on your friends list.

It would be a convenient way to avoid being searched under Facebook's continued assault on privacy, and they could tell snoopy bosses they don't have a Facebook page with no way for their boss to prove "Debbie Daggers" is really their account. Facebook can't force people to use their real name, and the more they push this kind of crap on us, the more people will adopt fake names. I should think that would be more damaging to Facebook in the long run than any additional revenue changes like this net them in the short run. Though perhaps they realize this and don't care - they know Facebook in a decade will probably resemble what AOL is now anyway, so they may as well cash in as best they can sooner rather than later.

Office wage slaves face extinction at hands of ROBOTS - if bosses listen to Gartner

DougS Silver badge

This is why call centers were outsourced

By making the staffers harder to understand, have more difficulty understanding you, and be overall less helpful in resolving your issue, it will be easier to replace them with some beefed up version of Siri or Google Now. By 2020 anyone calling a customer support line will have been trained by 20 years of poor customer service to fully expect to have to repeat themselves several times, not have expressions or slang understood properly, and to be presented with an answer to a question often quite different than the one that was asked.

They'll know they've reached their goal when the number of people who shout "representative", scream obscenities or randomly hit numbers on their phone hoping to escape the automated help system and talk to a human falls to zero, because we start seeing speaking to a human as even worse than the automated system.

Watery asteroid discovered 150 light-years off hints at habitable worlds

DougS Silver badge

Ceres is 26% water? Hmmm...

So how does the total amount of water in Ceres compare to that in Earth? Earth's diameter is roughly 8.5x that of Ceres, so its volume should be a bit over 600x larger. Therefore, Earth has about 47x more water than Ceres. If these back of the envelope calculations are correct, that means Earth would have had to have been hit by one hell of a lot of stuff - the equivalent of 47 Ceres, to supply it with the amount of water it has if it received its water via impact.

Surely it would be simpler to postulate that water was already present during Earth's formation (if nothing else in the form of hydrogen and oxygen, some of which combined as H2O) and the water, being lighter than the elements making up the crust, mantle and core, ended up on the surface (below the even lighter atmospheric gasses)

Perhaps bodies that form in water-rich or hydrogen/oxygen rich areas end up with lots of water like this unfortunately planet, and Ceres, and others that form in less water-rich areas are comparatively dry, so much so that there are actually parts of the surface not covered by water! Perhaps our having only 2% water makes us unusual or even rare among other Earth-like planets, and we may be far more likely to encounter planets covered in vast deep oceans with no dry land at all than to encounter our mixed environment of oceans and dry land.

Microsoft sold out of Surface tablets in the UK... YEP, all 2,000 units

DougS Silver badge

Re: The real WTF here is that

"Best tablet" if your criteria is the one that can run PC software. Most don't have the same criteria, and would still choose the iPad or an Android tablet even if the Surface sold for the same price.

PC sales continue meteoric death plunge through 3rd quarter, drop another 8.6 per cent

DougS Silver badge

@DanielB Re: The elephant in the room @DougS

I'm not saying the PC market will go to zero, only that it will continue to decline because some people who formerly needed a PC to do what they do now can do it with a tablet or a smartphone, and others need fewer PCs in their home than they previously did. Or those who have only one use it less often, and therefore will consider it less of a priority to upgrade.

All these things reduce demand for PCs, and account for the sales drop and will continue to account for further sales drops. They won't go to zero, or anywhere close to zero, but just because you still have demand for PCs in your home doesn't mean that my reasoning is wrong. Reg readers aren't typical, nor does the fact that some people have just as many PCs as they used to imply that the same is true for everyone.

At least now we've gone from denying there is a sales drop and claiming it was inaccurate data collection, to blaming the decline in PC sales on 'the economy', to acceptance that there really is a fall (since it is accelerating and becoming too large to ignore) Originally the claim was that after Windows 8 was released sales would jump up again, because the touch features, Ultrabooks etc. were something a lot of people were waiting for. When sales continued to drop, peopl try to blame it on Windows 8 sucking, ignoring that sales went up even following Vista's release! If Windows 9 comes out in a year or two and is seen as being at least as good as 7's release was, and PC sales continue to decline, I wonder what the excuse will be then? Or maybe it will be, "the fall in sales is over, they'll grow next year". Some people will always live in denial.

DougS Silver badge

Re: The elephant in the room

PC sales have been declining for three years now. Can't blame that on Windows 8.

It is tablets (and to a lesser extent smartphones) that allow people to get their content fix. As a result people can keep their aging PC longer since they don't use it as often, or a multiple PC household can downsize to fewer/one PC.

I'm surprised there are still people who deny this. I guess based on your wording you think tablets are toys and that only PCs can accomplish any proper tasks. For you, maybe that's true, but for a lot of average people, browsing the web, reading email, visiting Facebook and so are what they consider a PC's 'proper tasks'. No advantage to using a PC for any of that.

Google's Wi-Fi not good enough for its home town

DougS Silver badge

Google really should have invested a few dollars to fix this

Because it just makes them look bad that they can't get Wifi in a city that isn't very dense working properly. If we can make wifi work in stadiums filled with people, it shouldn't be too hard to get wifi working in a city with a handful of people per acre.

Web daddy Tim Berners-Lee: DRMed HTML least of all evils

DougS Silver badge

Re: He does have a point

You might not like copyright and patents, but you've yet to make a sound case for them being abolished.

Quite right. The solution isn't to abolish patent and copyright, but to limit them. However, given the power of corporations that tilt such things in their favor, I'm not sure if we're better off having them in the world or not.

For patents, we're still better off, even with all the whining about rounded corners there is a lot of investment in R&D that wouldn't be made if something could be immediately ripped off as soon as it became a market success.

For copyright, I'm not so sure. Would people still write books and make movies if there was no copyright? People wrote book before copyright existed, so the answer there is obvious. For movies, they are already copied at or before release and yet still make millions, the only change would be that such copies would not be illegal. They'd have to do a better job of controlling leaks from studios but it could be done. Even if you could copy Lady Gaga's songs her fans would still want to see her in concert so she'd still be quite rich. You can copy a recording, but you can't copy the experience of seeing someone perform live (even if you're a Glasshole)

In an ideal world we'd scrap copyright, then bring it back but enshrine the limits of the terms in the constitution in the US, and by whatever means in other countries that would similarly make them very difficult to extend. That original 14 year term from the Queen Anne statute seems quite reasonable, with the 14 year extension needed.

Dear Apple: Want to stay in business? Make an iPhone people can afford

DougS Silver badge

Re: Enforced obsolescence

No, they do those things to achieve the look they want for the product (thin, light, etc.) That may not appeal to you, but it appeals to many.

I remember seeing some data that only a few percent of PCs ever had any sort of upgrade done, and almost all were to add memory. Probably much less common now that PCs tend to almost always ship with plenty of memory since it is so cheap. Almost no one upgrades the CPU. The needs/wants of the average Reg reader are not typical of the population at large.

The lack of replaceable battery may be a problem for those who are on their phone all day and don't have easy access to a charger. The solution for that? Those people shouldn't buy an iPhone. Or the growing number of Android phones that are following suit and have a non-removable battery for the exact same reasons as Apple.

If Apple's goal is planned obsolescence like you think, they're doing it wrong. You only need to look at the resale value of a two year old Mac laptop versus a two year old PC laptop that originally sold for the same price, and similarly check out say a two year old iPhone 4S versus a barely year old GS3 to see what I mean. How many people are still using a four year old Android phone? There are millions still using a slightly more than four year old 3gs - it just had its last OS update a few months ago, but unless there's some major exploit found for its browser, it'll be useful for years to come.

I suppose the non removable battery in the 3gs may start crapping out at some point, but they aren't at all difficult to remove. Anyone able to operate a screwdriver and Google should be able to figure out how to replace it. $4.99 online with free shipping, and comes with the tiny screwdriver needed to open the case.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Yeah, sure,

The fact Fiat makes Ferraris (and all the other examples) is only because of all the consolidation in the auto industry. Fiat didn't start out as Fiat and then create the Ferrari brand, nor the other way around. Ditto for VW and Lambo, and so on.

If one company owned both Apple and some no-name Chinese company making ultra low end $50 Android phones, it wouldn't mean Apple is operating at the low end of the market any more than Ferrari is.

Not that Ferrari and Apple are really an apt comparison. Ferrari is more like one of the crazy ultra luxury phone brands like Vertu. Both sell only a very small number of units, hundreds or low thousands, and pretty much if you don't make a million dollars a year or something close to it you probably will never consider owning either. They may make tens of thousands per car and thousands per phone, but because of the low volumes profit is measured in the tens of millions at best.

Apple's profit is measured in the tens of BILLIONS. Apple operates at the high end of the mass market, where successful sales are measured in 100+ million units a year. Its just that now people think 100+ million a year isn't good enough, when there are over a billion mobile phones sold each year. Problem is, most of those billion phones won't be sold for enough money to leave much profit at all for the seller. If lower priced Apple phones steal sales from their high end, they may make less overall profit. Market share isn't the goal, profit is.

BTW, please don't try to claim Apple needs a high market share to make money from iTunes. iTunes barely pays its operating costs. Apple runs it to support selling more hardware, not the other way around!

DougS Silver badge

@JimmyPage "automotive market is completely mature"

How is the smartphone market not mature? What major breakthroughs have occurred in the past five years? I can't name one. CPUs got faster, more cores, better GPUs, 64 bits, etc. You got more RAM, more flash, newer wifi and wireless standards. Screens got bigger and higher resolution. Cameras got more megapixels and better light sensitivity. None of this compares to when a GPS got small enough to include in a phone and made using it for mapping possible, nor when capacative touchscreens rid us of the keypad.

All of this is just following technological progress. Cars get improved electronics every year too, its just that nasty mechanical stuff like engines aren't subject to Moore's Law so the improvements aren't as obvious when measured against the total driving experience. But most wouldn't be willing to give up their ABS and stability control that Moore's Law made possible. Modern cars make a lot of use of LEDs for exterior lights (and even in some cases headlights) which eliminates the problem of a single burned out bulb leaving you without brake lights or a turn signal.

The smartphone market is mature, all of those who talk about how Apple needs to "innovate" in smartphones are missing the fact that no one else is innovating in smartphones either, unless you consider gimmicks like a curved phone to be innovation. Something like that is akin to Ford putting out the Mustang with a new body style, its not exactly the invention of AWD or even four wheel steering.

Technological progress continues, but there isn't really anything on the horizon that we're waiting to integrate into a smartphone that isn't quite there yet. Not that there isn't progress for things that could be integrated, just that none are going to be a game changer. They're now able to make atomic clocks small enough to put inside a phone, but who needs that? Maybe someone will come up with a need for time accurate to the picosecond that our current ability to have time accurate to a few milliseconds wouldn't be good enough for - if so, coming up with that use will be the innovation, not the first phone to have an atomic clock in it.

Expert chat: The end of Windows XP and IE6

DougS Silver badge

Extended support

Won't Microsoft keep producing patches for it, since those who are on extended support will be paying for them? I wonder if Microsoft would try to stop someone who put those patches up on the web?

I also wonder if Microsoft might not be willing to put out the occasional very critical patch to all XP machines after that date, if there is some particularly nasty attack? Doing so would be good PR, having millions of Windows machines all becoming spambots or worse because they decided to quit supporting them on a certain date, not so much.

Samsung touching up ROUNDED, CURVY plastic enhanced MODEL

DougS Silver badge

Glad to see this useless product is finally out

I'm sure there is probably a market for this, not a big one but Samsung likes to fill every niche so they probably don't need to sell a million of them to meet the goals they have for it.

Mainly I'm just glad to see a phone using a flexible screen finally released so idiots will quit thinking it means a phone they can fold up like the old flip phones.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Once upon a time......

Yeah, maybe you don't want to slide it across a brick patio face down next time...

Seriously, you have to really try to scratch Gorilla glass, I'm on my 4th iPhone, which like the S4 also uses Gorilla Glass, and none has ever had even the tiniest scratch on the front glass. I don't even think twice about keeping it in my pocket with change, though if I needed to carry wood screws I'd probably use my other pocket :)

NAND flash chips to beat shrink wrap cash trap with 3D stack

DougS Silver badge

Well it is guesswork, but it seems obvious from the article this is based on the fact that the next lithography generation will be as small as flash can practically go. So rather than follow to the next generation after that they'll stay on the same generation and be forced to go 3D. So as more foundries hit that limit and go 3D, more of the flash chips on sale will be 3D.

The graph does avoid the "what if they run into problems making 3D cheap enough?". If that happens, flash prices will stop falling because we'll be stuck with a fixed capacity of 2D flash rather than knowing that Moore's Law will give us 4x more capacity in the same flash chip every two years. 3D can't possibly be as cheap as using a smaller process, since more steps are required, so either way it is safe to assume that flash prices won't fall as quickly a few years from now as we've got used to happening in the past.

Thai kids find free tablets hard to swallow as govt scheme hits trouble

DougS Silver badge

Re: What do you think the failure rate would be with a "nice" tablet?

Exactly. Probably best to buy the cheapest possible tablet, and expect to replace them frequently. It would also be less of a target for thieves than if you were handing out say iPads to every kid.

A thief could just walk up and grab a tablet from from a 7 year old if he had it out. At least with older kids the thief takes some risk that the kid might be able to fight back, and be fast enough to chase him down (though if he knows the school will replace it, he probably won't care)

Panasonic throws in towel on plasma tellies, preps for BILLION-dollar kick in pants

DougS Silver badge

Re: Big box stores killed plasma

I was never impressed with Samsung's plasma line, they got the low price part right but not the quality. Opposite of Pioneer, who got the quality part right but not the price!

DougS Silver badge

Re: Well, that's good news really...

Oh, and the colors are NOT a software issue. They can't make two identical OLED screens, the colors are different on every one. That's why they adjust the software to produce those crazy overly vivid and unrealistic colors, since they can't get the colors right they are trying to sell the vivid colors as a "feature". Compare several phones of the same make (low or high end, doesn't matter) and look carefully and you'll notice each has slightly unique colors. Compare several phones with quality LCD screens and the colors are absolutely identical.

This is one of the problems they keep working on in the battle to make OLED suitable for TV screens, but so far as I know, they still haven't solved it.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Well, that's good news really...

Making OLED work on a phone is a totally different problem than making it work on a TV.

TVs spend much more time with the screen powered on than phones do, we expect them to last much longer, and have greater expectations for accurate color reproduction (as demonstrated by all the people who seem fine walking around with OLED phones that have absolutely terrible color reproduction)

You'd need at least an order of magnitude greater lifetime for a TV OLED, and any pixel aging must take place at the same rate for different pixels and different colors, or happen at a rate known precisely enough that it could be compensated for in software (or somehow automate the calibration process, perhaps with a smartphone app)

DougS Silver badge

Big box stores killed plasma

Everybody goes in there and looks at the rows and rows of TVs in a room lit more brightly than the surface of the sun and the plasmas look dim by comparison to the LCD TVs. So the latter must be "better" in the eyes of the drooling idiots who buy off the floor from such places.

If people compared TVs side by side in a dark or even normally lit room things might be quite different in the TV market at this point. Plasmas do consume more power (though the recent ones are an order of magnitude more power efficient than the first generations) but some of that is simply down to lack of investment since LCDs got big enough to encroach on the market for large TVs.

I hope LG sticks around in the plasma market, if they leave there won't be anyone left in the 'quality but reasonably priced' plasma market.

RIP charging bricks: $279 HP Chromebook 11 charges via USB

DougS Silver badge

Re: I wonder how long it takes to fully charge?

Did you not read the article? My post had nothing to do with charging phones via a computer's USB port.

The article says they're going to charge the Chromebook via a micro-USB port. The USB spec only allows it to deliver a very limited amount of power, so it will take a long time to fully charge the Chromebook's battery. An AC charging brick typically sends 5-8 amps at 12v and thus charges over an order of magnitude more quickly than USB specs would allow. Phones that charge via an AC->USB charger adapter (like Android and iPhones do) charge rather slowly because of the small amount of power that USB can deliver, and they have batteries far smaller than the Chromebook.

DougS Silver badge

I wonder how long it takes to fully charge?

USB offers a tiny amount of power compared to a brick. Even with the brick laptops take a couple hours to charge, you'd be lucky to get a charge off USB in 12 hours!

Apple ban win: Now you can't buy Samsung gear no one was buying

DougS Silver badge

The ITC moves too slowly for it to matter either way

Whether or not the Apple ban or the Samsung ban were/are applied is irrelevant, since by the time all the appeals are exhausted the devices are obsolete.

Even if Samsung wanted to continue selling these obsolete phones, they knew when the ban would take place,and that it is only a ban on import, not on sale. If they thought they might sell a million more of them over the next year or two they could have filled a warehouse with them last month and continued selling them, and the ITC ruling wouldn't hurt them at all.

LG starts producing flexible, curvy displays you can STROKE

DougS Silver badge

Going back in time 10 years to scratched up screens with dust trapped underneath

Count me out, I'll stick with the glass screens that don't scratch and take the risk of it shattering (which has never happened to me since I'm not clumsy) rather than going back to plastic and dealing with the inevitable scratches and the fact that screens that flex inevitably lead to dust trapped underneath the screen. It didn't matter how careful I was about never having anything else in the pocket I kept my phone in, after a week it would start showing visible scratches. Maybe pocket lint is higher on the Mohs scale than I would have guessed :)

It would be nice to have the 'perfect' screen, but unfortunately materials science won't let that happen. You can't have something that is flexible, won't dent, is resistant to shattering and is hard enough to resist scratching from common items made of metal (keys, change etc.)

Curved screens are simply a gimmick, they'll not catch on.

Listen, Google and Amazon: Soon we may not even use tape for COLD STORAGE

DougS Silver badge

How is shingling going to help?

Yeah, so they can replace 4TB drives with 6TB drives. Big deal. Unless they cost the same (no payback for the development cost of shingling) there won't be that much difference in price. Even if they do cost the same it is only a 33% reduction in cost per GB. Nothing to sneeze at, but doesn't get you to the cost per GB of tape.

Had hard drives maintained the fast pace of capacity increases they were on for about a decade until they stalled out several years ago, I think they would be really squeezing tape about now. I basically had been saying as much for several years. But given that capacity increases have stalled, and shingling is a one time tweak of that can't be squeezed for additional capacity increases, tape is still John Cleese's parrot. The roadmap for capacity increases in tape looks a lot better than the roadmaps I've seen for disk.

The reason why is because SSDs have stolen the entire lucrative high end hard drive market, so it now consists almost exclusively of commodity drives sold based on cost per GB. With much less profit to put towards R&D, the roadmap for hard drives doesn't look all that bright. Who knows, maybe in a decade hard drives will be in danger of disappearing in favor of solid state storage and tape will end up outliving rotating media instead of replacing it?

SEC review clears Apple of dodgy tax dealings

DougS Silver badge

@Tim Worstal

Your idea is fine, except for one glaring flaw. Liability. The reason why corporations in the US are double taxed (at least the reason I was taught in business school) is because corporations offer a liability shield to the management and directors.

If the law is changed so that you can take the life savings from the CEO and board members of a bankrupt corporation to pay off its debts, as can and will be done under a sole proprietorship or partnership, then I'm on board with that change. Otherwise there needs to either be a corporate level tax, or the capital gains and dividends need to be taxed at a higher rate than regular income to compensate.

I do agree that the current situation with a very high corporate tax, and very low capital gains and dividend tax makes absolutely no sense. Change the law so capital gains and dividends are taxed as normal income, and make the corporate tax say 10%. Then the cost for bringing money back into the US would be much less and companies would have far less incentive to hold it overseas on the hope of a future tax holiday, and be more likely to only hold what they really may need to use overseas.

The current tax situation with lower cap gains and dividend rates (seen as being paid by the individual) while sticking it to the corporations with their high tax rates (seen as being paid by big business) sounds better to the ears of the average voter. Which is why it is the way it is. And is another example of why an uninformed electorate makes bad decisions (but that's a whole other topic)

Iranian cyberwar chief shot dead. Revolutionary Guard: Assassination? Don't 'speculate'

DougS Silver badge

Re: @Destroy All Monsters

There are surely those in Israel who would prefer attack to diplomacy. Not saying they're responsible, the same could be said for some in the US, as well as the hard liners in Iran (who don't prefer attack, obviously, but don't want diplomacy) Or it might have absolutely nothing to do with that, and be purely internal politics.

Apple hires streaming vid bloke: Nurse, the corpse of Apple monster telly is twitching again

DougS Silver badge

Love all the "won't buy one" comments when no one knows what it'll be

OK, those who hate Apple won't buy one even if it gives you wireless orgasms, but everyone else saying they won't seems to have a lot of preconceptions about exactly what it will be. If all it is is a TV set that has a few rows of icons like an iPhone, yeah, there won't be much point of buying one. There also wouldn't be much point for Apple to offer one. Presumably if/when they offer one, they'll feel as though it gives you a reason to want one, because otherwise it'll be a big flop and what's the point of selling something that you know will flop?

Aside from Apple haters, no one really believes Apple is going to take something that looks like today's "smart" TVs, slap an Apple logo on it and a few hundred extra on the price tag, and expect it'll sell because it is Apple.

US spy court says internet firms can't report surveillance requests

DougS Silver badge

@alain williams

Uh, no they can't. The US government can't ORDER a citizen to do any such thing. They can't order a citizen to do anything at all. They can't even order citizens to pay taxes. There are laws specifying the penalties for not paying taxes, but if you really don't want to pay taxes you can refuse to pay and suffer the penalties specified under law.

They can't compel citizens to do what they want via secret laws as you seem to imagine they might - the citizen has to know what the law is to comply! But just because there is a law doesn't mean the citizen will comply unless the penalties for non-compliance are pretty severe. There are laws against speeding, for instance, which I break to some degree or another every time I get behind the wheel.

They aren't even ordering corporations like Google to turn over information, it is more of an arm-twisting (or threat of arm-twisting) that makes it happen. Probably they're threatening (or implying a threat) to put them on a blacklist making them ineligible for any government business, or that hey'll get a rectal exam from the FTC, IRS, and any other agency they can think of.

If you believe otherwise, why did that NSA document show years between the time the first companies started sharing data, and the time the last company listed, Apple, did so? If they were forcing them they'd all have started complying at pretty much the same time, not over a period of 3-4 years.

DougS Silver badge

Re: In which case ...

Several members of the EU work closely with the NSA and probably do the same thing with UK, French and German software products. Pretty soon you'd be down to a choice to use only Chinese software!

Chromecast creeps further into living room with Hulu hookup

DougS Silver badge

Re: "Google could be getting a position that will worry Cupertino and others."

You'd want to watch (or record) AMC live if that was the only way you could get immediate access to its programming. You might be able to buy a season of a series later, or perhaps watch it for free after a few days or a week, but that's what everyone else does. If there was one solution that let you watch the Mad Men finale at the same time as those who had cable subscriptions, even when you didn't, THAT would worry the competition.

As for ESPN, who said anything about it being cheaper than cable? People might subscribe to it because they could get it without paying for a bunch of crap channels they don't care about. Just like those who like AMC's programming might pay for it separately but don't want to be forced to pay $$$ for ESPN if they don't watch sports. If the cable providers won't let you go a la carte, maybe someday the channels will be willing to sell directly to you via the internet.

If some channels made deals with only Google or only Apple, it would be a major advantage. Adding yet another way to watch Hulu is no more of a big deal for Chromecast than it was for Apple TV, because it is already available everywhere. That was my point.

DougS Silver badge

"Google could be getting a position that will worry Cupertino and others."

Huh? Because they get support from players like Hulu and Netflix? You mean the same providers that already let you view their stuff on the web? And via apps? And via smart TVs? And via set tops?

The breakthrough will come when someone becomes the first to make a deal with a major network and lets you live stream say ESPN and ESPN2, or stream AMC or stream HBO. Not programs on those channels, but the live network feed. Then you'll have something major and noteworthy and it really will worry the other players that they don't have such a deal. Otherwise it is all just method number 234 to view pretty much the same content everyone has access to in innumerable ways.

Tesco's new fondleslab winks at Apple's stealthy NFC assassin iBeacon

DougS Silver badge

@johnnymotel 16:17

Items don't have Beacons on them, Beacons are too expensive for that. Maybe on high end items, but they'd still want to remove the Beacon for re-use rather than letting you take it home.

NFC tags are cheap so theoretically if each item had an NFC tag you could do this, but unfortunately NFC's range is too short, and even NFC tags are too expensive to attach to cheap items that are selling for a dollar or two.

Those magnetic strips are cheapest of all (but still too expensive to put on stuff like candy bars) but they can't be remotely addressed and deactivated, so someone would need to do each one.

The Apple Store model works in an Apple Store because few customers walk out with a big bag of stuff, and they can afford to have a person by the door who can check the bag of the occasional big spender walking out with 20 iPods or whatever. Won't work in a department store, definitely won't work in a grocery store.

Beacons offer some new capabilities that other solutions don't (providing directions inside a store to find things without relying on the guesswork of store employees - assuming you can find them when you need them) However, they don't solve the paying for your stuff problem any better (or worse) than NFC, and neither offers enough of an advantage over swiping your card through a reader to make people want to change the way they pay, other than to say "hey look what my cool Samsung / Apple phone can do, I can pay for stuff without swiping my card!"

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