* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Apple releases iOS 6.1, adds LTE carriers, tweaks security

DougS Silver badge


I'm glad Rik referred to how stupid this is in a cleverly oblique way, though I wish we'd see an entire Reg article dedicated to this abomination.

Most of us who read The Reg are probably clueful enough to realize how stupid it would be to give truthful answers to these security questions, but the average person doesn't realize how insecure this is. This might have seemed like a good solution to the problem of identifying yourself on the web for relatively unimportant sites at first, but it has taken on a life of its own since. The ability to easily search the web for names as well as the propensity of people to give away "unimportant" information to Facebook makes this far more dangerous than using a dictionary word as a password.

But once something is deemed a "best practice" in security it lives forever like some sort of zombie. Much like the outdated idea that changing your password frequently is a good idea, these "three security questions" continue to be used everywhere. Presumably anyone actually working in the industry knows this is dumb, but I know from experience in my consulting work that no matter how smart and well regarded you are in your field, you can't fight "best practices" with your recommendations. You can recommend something, someone will point out it contradicts best practices, and you can explain why best practices are wrong in this case until you're blue in the face, but in the end you are forced to give in if you want to get anything accomplished aside from discussing this one issue.

Apple users: Only Apple can track us! Not Google

DougS Silver badge
Thumb Up

Kieran has it 100% right.

The Apple haters blaming Safari or iOS for "insecurity" are showing their ignorance. Google didn't exploit a security hole to do this, they were just acting like a spoiled child whose parents told him he couldn't have a cookie and took one while his parents weren't looking. The "do not track" standard is rather like the "do not call" list. There is nothing in the protocol to enforce it, but one should be able to assume that companies which violate it are up to no good. Google's "oops it was an accident" excuse might possibly have been believable, if they hadn't been caught doing exactly the same thing (but in a slightly different way) to IE.

The fact is, Google is all about standards and freedom, until something comes along to threaten what they make most of their money on: knowing as much as possible about its users to serve it's customers' needs. Note that "customers" to Google isn't us, it is the advertisers who pay them. People can whine about Apple, Microsoft or IBM being soulless profit motivated corporations all they want, but while they're right the "soulless profit motivated" part was redundant to the word "corporation". The problem is, those who think Google is any different are just as delusional as those who think Apple occupies some special slot in the tech world.

Apple loses 'Most Valuable Company' honor to ExxonMobil

DougS Silver badge

Re: Dividends

Well sure if you buy at the high you can make almost anything look like a bad investment. Which is worse, Apple that has gone down by a little less than 40% from its high in just a few months, or Microsoft, which is down by just over 60% from its high, which was reached a month shy of THIRTEEN YEARS AGO?

Dividend yield of 2% for Apple is pretty good considering they are using a fraction of their cash to generate it. They could triple their dividend to a yield of 6%, making it one of the highest dividends around and still have plenty of cash left over after every quarter. Whether that would still be true in 5-10 years is another matter, but you can say the same thing about any tech company. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon - any of them who today are where Sun was a decade ago or RIM was a half decade ago could be where Sun and RIM are today by 2020. Or could be even bigger than they are today. That's the nature of the tech business. You want stability, you buy utilities. They won't see big growth but they'll keep paying that high dividend yield forever, since people will always need energy.

Keep in mind that the highs for both Apple and Microsoft were reached after quick growth and then the stock quickly dropped, so there aren't very many people who will have bought at the top. Almost all who did were probably adding to existing positions, and their average cost per share may still be well below $450 so it remains overall a good investment for them. Not as good as it could have been if they sold at $700 and then rebought tomorrow, but market timing is for suckers.

If I could give my younger self investment advice I'd tell him to take out college and credit card loans as big as possible and buy up MSFT, and then right after New Year's on 2000, dump it all and buy Apple. Even with the recent decline in Apple I'd still be worth hundreds of millions. The fact no one ever times the market so precisely is the best proof there is that time travel is impossible :)

DougS Silver badge


Apple has $137 billion in cash reserves (it would be over $100 billion even if they brought all the offshore cash back to the US and paid taxes on it) How in the hell could they ever hope to spend a "fair wedge of" $137 billion developing something new? I think you have no concept of how that amount compares to the R&D budgets of even companies that do a lot of R&D like IBM. It would take even them several decades at minimum to go through it, and they do more true research than anyone these days.

There are only two uses for a cash pile that size. One, give it back to the shareholders via buybacks or dividends. Two, spend it on acquiring other companies. Apple acquires other companies, but they have never done the type of big (and IMHO stupid) acquisitions that companies like HP, Microsoft and Google do. They buy little companies for a few hundred million dollars. Who knows, maybe Cook will feel differently and buy some big company for many billions of dollars. As a shareholder, I sure hope not and I couldn't think of any big company Apple could buy that would be worth it.

Hell, if they could find the next Warren Buffett and put him in charge of that cash pile and have him start investing it even that would be better than spending money on acquisitions. Just spin off a new company to manage all that cash and issue shares in the new company to existing shareholders. If they don't want to own it, they can sell it to those who do. Of course, everything about that is quite simple aside from the "find the next Warren Buffett" part. :)

Sorry, Apple-haters, but Cupertinian doom not on the horizon

DougS Silver badge


While its true that Samsung (and other Android vendors) have come out with their own spin on this idea, it has been terribly implemented. Connecting a phone to an HDMI display and displaying the touchscreen interface on a large screen has very limited usefulness. It needs to present a proper desktop (OS X GUI on iOS, Chrome on Android being probably the best of lackluster Linux GUI possibilities) and be done by Google for Android as a whole, rather than only certain vendor/product combinations being able to do it.

It is nice that Samsung has tried to do this, but doing something poorly is not that much better than not doing it at all. When Apple does it, it will be pretty well polished and useful, and they will have a simple way for OS X apps to be able to run on it (cross compiled to ARM or something) There is already a ton of Linux apps that could work on the Chrome GUI, but some of them require a certain geek quotient to figure out. If Apple beats Goggle to the punch, Android fans will scream they are just copying Samsung, but fair or not, when Apple does it it will draw a lot more attention - not just to Apple but to the danger this poses for Microsoft.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Mac sales are down by a million units

It won't be Mac or Chromebook that challenges Windows. It'll be iOS and Android. If you consider a smartphone to be a "computer", they already outsell Windows. If you only count tablets, they'll likely outsell Windows in a few years. 2013 is already predicted to the year when tablets outsell laptops.

Some will complain that tablets (and especially smartphones) are consumption only devices, but the majority of PC users are data consumers not data producers. There are many people who only bought PCs to join the email & web revolution in the mid to late 90s, but they don't particularly need a PC - or certainly don't need more than one which many now have.

In addition, before long you'll be able to connect your iOS or Android phone to a TV/monitor, and combined with a bluetooth keyboard/mouse run a traditional non-touch desktop to allow stuff like writing long emails, typing in papers, organizing photos, etc. That's what will really damage Windows, and why Microsoft is frantically scrambling around trying to figure out a way to get more than a few token percentage points of share in the phone market.

The desktop GUI layer may look/act like OS X on iPhone and Chrome on Android, but since the hardware people are running it on won't be the desktop/laptop hardware Microsoft dominated for so long, their existing relationship with the OEMs will be meaningless. That's why they're willing to screw their poor OEMs over so overtly, by making a relationship with Nokia, releasing their own brand tablets, and now rumored to be buying a chunk of Dell.

Microsoft's Intel-powered Surface Pro to launch in February

DougS Silver badge

Where is the market for this?

It is priced like an expensive Ultrabook, but offers no advantages over it - you can get an Ultrabook with the same weight as the Surface Pro + cover and you'll get a better keyboard and better battery life. Only a moron who wants to buy a "tablet" because that's the trend but has no earthly idea what he'd actually do with it would buy one.

Oh....wait....I see, Microsoft is planning on selling millions of these to PHBs who don't know what I've written above...

China turns to no-name handsets: Android - without the Google-iness

DougS Silver badge

Re: Payments to MS

Apple is the proof that you're wrong. There are plenty of owners of iPod, iPhone and iPad who have products that don't "just work without having to install lots of additional SW" as you have to install iTunes first (OK, very recently you can get by without it, but for years this was true) Downloading and installing iTunes is at least as much of a hassle as having a driver install dialog appear when you first connect a phone, so my suggested method of Android filesystem driver installation would no worse if not easier than Apple's model of making you install iTunes.

Regardless of how one personally feels about Apple and iTunes, it is clear that hundreds of millions of people don't feel that the requirement to install additional software on their PC is a show stopper. Having it "just work" without that is better, but is that slight convenience really worth the couple billion dollars or so that Android OEMs will have paid Microsoft so far?

Google is trying to push VP8 instead of h.264 for web video since it's "more open", but they didn't even try to push an alternative to vFAT on Android? Still don't get it.

DougS Silver badge

Re: They'll be back for brands later

Why do you assume when they're "back for brands" they'll choose Android? The people buying these low end de-Googled phones are even less likely to know their phone is "Android" than consumers of more typical brands. Most of the people I know with Android phones don't know it is Android, they know them as "Samsung" or "Motorola" phones.

I know one guy who switched to a Lumia and asked him if he liked Windows Phone better than Android and he didn't know what I was talking about until I explained it. He just chose the Lumia because he thought it looked cool and he got it as a free upgrade for contract renewal - and the guy in the store was really pushing them hard, apparently. He's not a dummy either, but like most typical people he isn't really into tech stuff and doesn't know about Android, openness, or any of that stuff. He just wants a phone that can also run a browser and some apps, and they all do that about the same. It is only the zealots who get into Internet flamewars that care about the distinctions between iOS and Android, or iPhone and Lumia and think everyone else should too.

These low end Chinese phone buyers aren't going to choose Android on their next phone any more than they did on this one. Since Android is used in pretty much every non-Apple non-Nokia smartphone out there, they're getting it by default, not choosing it, and if they make an upgrade to a higher end phone in the future their choice in their next phone will be by brand (Samsung, Apple, Nokia) not by OS. The idea that people will get locked in to an ecosystem is a fantasy, only that sub 1% of people who have spent hundreds on apps (I'm sure they're out there, though I don't know any such people) will have enough invested that having to re-buy a handful of apps will cause them to think twice about switching.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Payments to MS

If Android had used something else, it would be getting integrated into TVs, cameras and so on by now thanks to all the Android devices out there. Google took a short sighted view and is paying for it.

The lack of drivers on Windows would be trivial to fix. Plug in an Android phone to a PC via USB and the phone could show up as a storage device like it currently does AND show up as a CD drive, with a CD that conveniently has drivers for ext3 or whatever free filesystem Google chose to use.

Google has no one to blame but themselves for this, and should have seen it coming.

Microsoft's ARM blunder: 7 reasons why Windows RT was DOA

DougS Silver badge


Yes, I know the web existed back then, but you're on crack if you think it would have been useful for running remote apps in 1993. What existed back then was about as useless as WAP was (even Apple haters should thank Apple for driving a stake in WAP's heart) with simple menus that worked like operating a mainframe decades ago. It wasn't until IE6 (yeah, as much I hate to admit that) that the proper interfaces existed for making anything like a real web app. Previously all attempts were based on Java, and well, we know how well that worked. It is only 5 or 6 years ago with "Web 2.0" hype that it became something web developers could expect cross platform browsers to handle.

As for Tizen, why wouldn't Samsung set up their own app store? Amazon did. They can make it compatible with Android apps, at least at first, and with them owning half the Android market every major Android app would be sold on Samsung's store within a year. That's immediate revenue going to Samsung rather than Google. Then they can enhance Tizen in ways that aren't compatible with Android apps, but with Samsung owning half the market, developers will develop not just for iOS and Android, but iOS, Android and Tizen. Sorry, WP8 and BB10, there won't be room for you. And what's wrong with renting their customers out to Bing? Do you really think that the average person cares who serves them their search results? If they do, they could always download a Google Search app - given that Google did one for Apple, surely they'd do one for Tizen.

DougS Silver badge

@Daniel B 06:21

Oh I agree that the mobile landscape can shift rapidly, but this is a problem for Android far more so than it is for iOS. And yes, an opportunity for Microsoft, though they will probably continue to do nothing with it.

There are some people who are locked in to iOS due to apps spending, but that is massively overrated as a reason for people to stick with Apple. Is even $50 in sunk costs in apps going to change your mind if you have a reason to switch platforms? Only a tiny fraction have spent more than that. The reason people have own iPhones purchase another isn't because they're "locked into the ecosystem" due to sunk costs for apps, but because they're just happy with their iPhone. The surveys that show high satisfaction rates among iPhone owners and high "would you buy another iPhone" rates prove it. Most won't see a need to switch to something other than Apple unless they decide they REALLY want a much larger screen or REALLY want to spend a lot less on their next phone. For the average consumer, those are the only things that differentiate phones beyond the name on the back. They don't care if a phone has NFC or a SD slot or a quad core CPU or has a sassy assistant named Siri.

Now the same is true for a lot of Samsung customers who have been happy with their Galaxy phones, they will buy another Samsung, not because it is Android, but because they were satisfied with their last Samsung purchase and see no compelling reason to switch. That fact is a potential disaster for Google because Samsung has no allegiance to Android and in fact appears that they are planning to go their own way with Tizen to better monetize their customers rather than allowing Google to make all the post-sale money from them. Samsung could switch from Android to Tizen and take half the Android with them! Only those who specifically chose Android when they bought Samsung might abandon them if they switch to Tizen, but that's a very small percentage of all of Samsung's customers.

The other problem Android faces is on the very low end, like emerging market China and India, where a lot of the new Chinese companies most of us have never heard of replacing feature phones with "smartphones". Android's Microsoft tax means that a cheaper competitor like the Firefox OS could quickly steal that low end where even $5 per phone makes a difference. This really doesn't matter except for market share perception, since these people are not providing any after-sale value, but if the people see Android's market share drop by 75% over a year or two, the market perception would be devastating.

Google is so busy worrying about Apple, which due to its focus on the high end could at best win only a little bit more market share, that it seems to be ignoring the very real potential it could lose a large majority of the Android market in just a couple years.

Google thinks they can be like Microsoft, and Android can be like Windows. But Windows had lock in, while Android has none. People didn't choose Windows any more than they choose Android, they chose Dell or HP. Microsoft had enough power thanks to Office to force out all the competition aside from Apple, but Google does not have any killer app they can leverage into a monopoly (no, search isn't, because there is Yahoo/Bing) Microsoft could not have built their desktop monopoly if the web had existed back then, because being Windows compatible wouldn't have mattered if you could run web apps like Google Office.

DougS Silver badge

Remote FX

Remote FX may be cool and better than anything you can do to remotely operate a PC with an iPad or Android, but is it worth $600? Why not get a $600 laptop and operate a local PC?

The market for people who want to operate their PC remotely frequently enough to spend $600 on it is not going to be all that large. The market for such people who need to have it work exactly as if it was local using Remote FX, rather than a generic remote desktop type client as on iOS/Android is even smaller.

DougS Silver badge

@Eadon - openness selling Android

Bullshit. As you say, geeks like Android because it is open, but that has had little or nothing to do with its success among the masses. If geek recommendations and openness could sell stuff, Linux would have more than 1% of the desktop market (and before you blame Microsoft, since the consent decree there have been Linux products available from Dell, for instance, but they never sell much)

When someone buys a phone because of what their friends have, they are generally buying the same phone or same brand. They see their friend's GS3, think it's cool, and get one for themselves. People recommend models or brands, they don't recommend "get an Android", unless they're talking to someone else who would understand what that means - and if you think even half of Android owners know they have an Android phone, you're hanging out with too many propeller heads and not enough ordinary people.

If Android was not open source, if it had instead been based on a BSD kernel and rather than being freely available to OEMs cost them say $1 to license, it would be just as successful as it was today. The OEMs would still license it, people buying based on what their friends have would still do so, and it would still dominate the market just as much.

BTW, your idea that Microsoft gets bad karma via the patent lawsuits is ridiculous. The average person may have heard about Apple's lawsuits in passing but very few will have heard about Microsoft's. Even if they have heard of Apple or Microsoft's lawsuits they have no idea what they're about, and certainly don't think "oh noes, a closed vendor is attacking an open vendor, I have to support openness by buying Android". Go find a dozen average non-tech people and ask them about the Microsoft/Android lawsuits and see if a single one knows what the hell you're talking about. Some won't even know what Android is, despite having an Android phone in their pocket! They don't know their phone runs Android, they know it as a Samsung.

DougS Silver badge


However - this situation may not last much longer - Android will appear on the desktop in some form, and at that point, MS will rapidly lose market share.


Android will never appear on the desktop. It isn't suited for it. However, a more desktop oriented GUI (i.e. Chrome desktop) will be installed on Android phones at some point and it will run instead of Android as a desktop when plugged into a monitor. I guess you could consider this "some form" of Android since it would be running the Android kernel, but it won't look anything like the Android GUI, which is designed for touch and is as useless on a desktop as a desktop OS would be on a smartphone. But there will be no PCs or laptops sold that run the Android version of the Linux kernel. With a bluetooth keyboard/mouse this "docked" smartphone will be a true replacement for the desktop for the large number of consumers who don't need Windows compatibility, once they leave Windows desktops they'll never return.

Apple will do this too, using the OS X GUI it will be almost indistinguishable from running on a Mac, aside from reduced performance. It will hurt OS X sales, but better they eat their own market share rather than having someone else do it for them. Apple will want to wait until they have a 64 bit CPU in iPhone (which could possibly be ready this year, but would be more likely for next year) to do this so they only need to worry about supporting 64 bit ARM apps under this new OS X flavor.

Android might introduce this feature this year, though Google probably realizes the Chrome desktop needs a lot of polishing before they want to throw this out in front of people - if it flops, it would be hard to get people to give it a second look and might send people Apple's way when they release their more polished solution using the mature OS X GUI.

DougS Silver badge

Surface Pro will also fail

There's no reason at all to buy it over buying an Ultrabook which it costs about the same, performs about the same, and weighs about the same as Surface Pro including the keyboard cover. The only difference is Ultrabooks will have a better keyboard and be available with better CPUs, neither of which is in favor of Surface Pro.

On their fourth attempt to enter the tablet market since the mid 90s, Microsoft still doesn't understand it, even after Apple showed them what people want! They still try to make something that does everything a PC does, when the Apple and Android tablet sales demonstrate people aren't asking for that. If they were, the iPad would have flopped and there would still be no tablet market.

Wireless performance will collapse, prices rise: Deloitte

DougS Silver badge
Thumb Down

Re: It's funny

If you can almost always find wifi, the data usage on your cellphone should have been mostly wifi too, shouldn't it? Or did you not bother connecting to wifi with your phone because you had data allowance to burn?

If I wanted to drag a laptop with me everywhere I went I probably wouldn't have much need to use my phone for anything but a phone, but until they make a laptop that can be folded up to fit in my pocket and weighs only 4 ounces, I'll stick with my phone, thanks.

Happy birthday, Lisa: Apple's slow but heavy workhorse turns 30

DougS Silver badge

Re: History

And software that is really not all that different. A Lisa user transported to 2013 would find a current Mac or Windows 7 PC fairly recognizable, albeit much faster and more colorful.

White House raises the signature threshold for petitions to 100,000

DougS Silver badge

Re: Why is this news?

If anyone thought these petitions would make any difference they wouldn't be treating them as a joke by asking for the US to build a Death Star. The people of the US lost faith in their government somewhere between the Warren Report and Watergate, and whatever party is in power has only the 1/3 of the US people that strongly support them as true believers that they can really make a difference. And only that because Fox News or Huffington Post tells them it's so.

Former CEO John Sculley: Apple must adapt or die

DougS Silver badge

Why does everyone assume there are only two smartphone price points?

He compares $500 and $100. Those are very different. Apple cannot create a $100 iPhone. There are $100 Android phones, but no one carrying a GS3 or other high end Android phone would consider it to be a smartphone.

What's wrong with a $300 price point? Still less than half the price of an iPhone 5, and $150 less than an unsubsidized two year old iPhone 4, but something that could still be an iPhone. Apple doesn't need to compete for market share in the $100 device segment. That segment is without value for anyone except maybe Google (they can still deliver ads to these guys) The owners of these bottom end phones aren't going to spend enough money on apps to become "sticky" to the Android ecosystem if/when they're able to afford a more expensive phone in the future. Most will still be a customer only for low end phones a decade from now. No one is going to make money off them, and Apple loses nothing except meaningless market share by ignoring them.

Climate watch: 2012 figures confirm global warming still stalled

DougS Silver badge

@Anon 16:48 - Cherry picking 1998

It is true that deniers like to compare to 1998, which as you say was an exceptional year. But the warmists seem to have had no trouble cranking the alarm bells up to 11 when the stats for 1998 came in, with their claims that warming was accelerating exponentially. That turns out to be have been decidedly not the case.

The warmists have pointed to the USA's exceptional 2012 as "further proof" of global warming. If the deniers can't use exceptional years, why can the warmists?

I particularly enjoyed how warmists used the wet 2012 in the UK and the drought in the US simultaneously as proof. On the news last night I heard someone in the UK arguing how warm air holds more water and that was why it was so wet in the UK. Just last week someone in the US was arguing that the drought was exactly the type of "extreme weather event" that global warming causes.

This again is the big problem with global warming. EVERY weather event and trend, short of a multidecadal temperature decline, can be linked to it. If it can't be falsified, it is not worthy of being called a theory.

China shoves Beidou intro tractors, trucks and buses

DougS Silver badge

Apple GPS

I know Apple's GPS uses GLONASS as well as GPS, but I've heard nothing about it using China's solution, even for the iPhones sold into China.

I'm sure a number of Android phones are using GLONASS as well, as the capability is built in the chipset Apple is using that other OEMs are using in their phones. I've never heard of any chipsets that use Beidou, but maybe I haven't been keeping up.

Soot forces temperatures more than thought: AGU

DougS Silver badge

Re: My diesel car

My diesel car pumps cleaner air out the back than it sucks in at the front.

Are you posting from Beijing? If not, I take it you'd be willing to hook a pipe up from your car's exhaust and breathe that in for a few hours? Presumably you aren't wearing a scuba tank when you're outside in the air your car takes in.

Apple 'slashes iPhone 5 screen orders', tight-fisted fanbois blamed

DougS Silver badge

@mccp - skeumorphic fail

I think skeumorphic design is good, but only insofar as the real-life equivalent is the purest form of the object. The reason the keys don't change on your keyboard when you hit the shift key isn't because no one wants this but because it can't be done cost effectively. If it could, every laptop would have keys that changed when you hit the shift key (or changed languages or keyboard layout) so IMHO iOS ought to do it this way rather than just highlight the shift arrow.

In fact, having LED keycaps is exactly the sort of thing Apple is likely to be the first to do in a mass production product because PC OEMs playing the cutthroat margin game can't afford risky stuff that drives up component costs like Apple can (c.f. Retina laptops)

DougS Silver badge

Reasons for a new connector

It's smaller and due to eliminating all the analog signaling used on many of the 30 pins the old connector had (for analog audio and video) it allows for higher speed per pin as well as simplifying board design inside the iPhone/iPad by eliminating the need to support higher voltage analog wiring.

It isn't really making any use of the higher speed yet, but it will down the road - the old connector supported 1080p HDMI output but that was the absolute limit it could handle. This will be able to support output to 4K displays...meaningless today, but this will be something they will want the capability for down the road.

Apple was going to have to change someday, but I honestly don't see the big deal. The old connector lasted nearly a decade. Should PCs keep VGA ports forever to preserve the significant investment that people have in analog monitors, or PS/2 ports so the mouse they bought a decade ago works?

DougS Silver badge

Google it

Geez, use Google you can buy Lightning accessories for this and many other things for only a few dollars. Around the end of November I checked and bought a couple cheap ($4/ea) Lightning cables so I'd have one to carry in my laptop bag, plus a spare just in case. I didn't get anything for car charging since I never charge in my car, but they were available. Yeah, not official Apple products but they work just fine, as did the cheap cables I bought a few years back for the old dock connector.

I can't even tell the difference between my Apple Lightning cable and the two I bought, though maybe if I look really closely there's a logo or part number on the Apple one the other lacks.

DougS Silver badge

iPhone updates

Apple has NEVER released a new phone less than about a year since the last one. There was a bit over a year between the 4 and 4S, so you obviously have no clue WTF you're talking about. The only time they've updated sooner was the iPad 3 getting updated to the iPad 4.

I remember hearing a lot of Apple haters complain about how Apple only releases new products once a year, versus Android users getting new products all the time. No matter what Apple does, haters are gonna hate.

Hyperspeed travel looks wrong: Leicester students

DougS Silver badge

This assumes you're looking out a WINDOW

If unshielded inhabitants are going to be bathed in x-rays, the builders of a star ship would hopefully be smart enough to shield it against that and avoid adding windows to the design... You might have a Star Trek style viewscreens where windows would be, which would be designed to look exactly like windows from the inside (but not the outside, sorry aliens) if Scott Forstall had anything to say about it.

It could theoretically interpret the x-rays that were being blocked from reaching the ships inhabitants as starlight and doppler correct it. If it can't do that, or the result doesn't look like anything useful, maybe the bridge crew will play a multiplayer shoot 'em up on the viewscreen to alleviate boredom, since they probably won't encounter an alien ship every other shift like they do in Star Trek. Or they could watch old episodes of Star Trek and other sci-fi movies and wish their mission was as exciting.

Reuters rubbishes report rubbishing cheap iPhone rumor

DougS Silver badge

That's not the same thing

The lastest n greatest retails for $649 off contract in the US - and in most places it is more than that figure converted into local currency. Getting $100 off for last year's model and $200 off for the two year ago model isn't the same thing as designing something specifically for a cheaper price point. $200 off is less than 30%, they need more than that if they want to create a significantly different price point in countries where carriers typically don't subsidize the cost of the phone.

Selling older models is designed to allow carriers to sell a phone for "free" or at half price when subsidized. If you aren't getting subsidized, the price difference between the older and newest models is small enough that there is little reason not to step up to the latest model. I don't know the price structure of the used market in those countries, but I'd guess the price difference almost disappears when you factor in resale value.

What a phone designed to be sold at a cheaper price point would be intended to do would be to offer something at less than half the unsubsidized price. I think the idea of Apple selling a $99 or $149 phone is ludicruous, there are no good phones sold at that price, and IMHO the market share you gain from those sales is next to worthless since these people aren't going to make an investment in apps that would make them reluctant to switch down the road.

However, Apple could easily cut $50 from the manufacturing cost of their phone - no LTE, cheaper camera, mid range rather than high end touch matrix, a body like the 3gs would do it. It could keep the Retina screen and maybe use a last generation CPU like the A5 (or a cut down A6, if that turned out to be cheaper to make) They could sell this phone for $299 and have something far less expensive that would compete better than a $449 iPhone 4 does today.

Given Apple's huge cash reserves, something I've wondered for a while is why they don't offer financing of phones to allow something that's effectively carrier subsidization in places that don't have it. There's a risk of some people who can't/won't pay the whole amount, but with some down payment required and given the fact the phone only costs Apple $200 at the high end, it isn't exactly as risky as financing a car. It is also a lot easier to "repo" a phone, Apple could remotely brick it and make it useless worldwide if payments fall too far behind.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Maybe when they get their current production under control...

Er, just because they were production limited on the iPhone 5 doesn't mean that they would be on some other model. Those limitations were due to component shortages and requiring a bit of time to get the new manufacturing just right.

Foxconn has a lot of people, it isn't as though if they have x number making iPhone 5s they can't add y more to make an iPhone mini or whatever.

Apple rubbishes rumours of iPhone for the masses

DougS Silver badge

They rubbished the rumor of a $99 phone, not a cheaper iPhone

Going from having a $649 phone (with $549 and $449 as the last year and two years ago models) to a $99 to $149 model the rumors started talking about is ridiculous. You can't make a quality smartphone for $99 even if you sell it for free. Those that sell that cheap are smartphones in name only, no one using an iPhone or a high end Android phone would consider them smartphones at all.

If Apple does this, they'll try to make it for $120-$150 and sell it for $249 or $299, but it will have a few limitations making it unattractive as a replacement for the real iPhone in first world countries, such as no LTE capability. That price range would open them up to a wider market but still allow them to create a quality product.

The market share gained by selling $99 phones is worthless, and even Android will be priced out of that market soon enough - the $5-$10 rumored to be payed to Microsoft for each Android phone becomes huge on a product that sells for $100, so an alternative like Firefox's phone OS or some Chinese made OS that doesn't have to pay Microsoft will take over the low end market as it moves ever lower. But that lost market share will hurt Android only in the sales stats, those customers are essentially worthless so it won't matter.

Nokia's Q4 'beat expectations' despite ongoing sales slump

DougS Silver badge

So 4 million odd Lumia devices in a quarter?

I guess they can say they "beat expectations" if the expectations are low enough, but that's absolutely awful for something that was supposedly going to put up some sort of a fight against iOS, let alone Android. Apple sold more iPhone 5s in a weekend than Nokia sold Lumias in the entire holiday quarter, despite the Windows 8 hype machine cranked up to 11?

I think we know where to file all those nutty predictions showing WP getting 10% of the smartphone market in a year or two...

Boffins develop microwave weed-zapper

DougS Silver badge

"Far happier are those who worry about the prevalence of pesticides"

Probably not. I'm sure some of them will claim that this is worse because a few stray microwaves will get into the leaves of the food crop and cause horrible mutations making it worse for you than pesticide laced or GMO crops, or worse will mutate insect larvae creating giant mutant aphids able to eat an entire corn plant in a single mouthful. See, the B flick is already writing itself...

There is a certain segment of the green movement that isn't interested in any form of technology to solve the problems of other solutions technology has come up with. Because technology hasn't been 100% good it should not be considered any sort of solution. So when it comes to curbing the worse abuses of factory farming or fossil fuel wastage, they believe the only proper solution is that society be brought back to an 19th century form of existence. Luddites in new garb, essentially.

At least I don't know what else to consider people who think wind power is bad because it kills birds, solar power is bad because it shades habitat, hydro power is bad because it hurts fish, wave power is bad because it disturbs sea life, biofuels are bad because, well, I can't really remember but I'm sure they had a good reason why it has no place and we shouldn't go beyond horse power and whale oil for lighting. Oh wait, scratch that, whale oil is also bad.

Potty-mouthed Watson supercomputer needed filth filter

DougS Silver badge

Seems like this would be a teaching opportunity

If a child learns a bad word and uses it, the parents will tell him why it's not appropriate. He might not understand it right away, but eventually he learns the concept of what types of language are appropriate in what situations. Rather than just filter Watson, wouldn't it be better if they could teach it some manners so it knows when it shouldn't use certain types of language?

To be fair, I'm sure a lot of parents would prefer to filter their child's language rather than try to teach them, if the option was available to them...

At last! A REAL use for NFC: Bonking butler bots and oven-puters

DougS Silver badge


NFC labels as part of the label of a clothes garment.

NFC reader on the opening of the washing machine.

Washing machine chooses appropriate cycle based on the clothes loaded.


You're joking, right? The washing machine is going to choose cold water gentle cycle EVERY TIME if you randomly drop stuff in there expecting the washing machine to figure it out.

I could see this if the NFC tag only served as a way of making sure the cycle you chose is appropriate for the clothing, but even then you'll have problems. Anyone who thinks they can put anything together that has the same washing instructions is probably walking around with a few little snags in some articles of clothing caused by them being washed in the same load with something that has a big zipper (i.e., washing jeans and t-shirts together = bad idea for this reason) Are the NFC tags going to deal with this as well? They could, but the potential privacy issues walking around with NFC tags on every article of clothing are not worth saving a couple minutes once a week when you do the wash.

I still think NFC is a solution looking for a problem - it's "cool tech" that geeks like, but average people are left scratching their heads and wondering why people keep talking about it when it doesn't solve any real problems in a big way. It's like wireless charging. It's cool, but only saves a couple seconds that it takes to plug in your device, and creates new problems (carrying that charging mat with you when you travel)

Panasonic pitches Ultra HD 4K x 2K monster tablet

DougS Silver badge

2 hours of battery life and weighs 5 pounds? No thanks!

Let's try again in five years if they can give it all day battery life and chop that weight at least in half.

Hey, tech titans! Those smartmobe sales bans? Give it a rest. NOW

DougS Silver badge

@Anon 13:59

That's fine in the case of firewire, but points out an important difference in types of standard.

Some standards are created as proprietary technology and then submitted to a standards body, at which point they become subject to FRAND licensing. This is how Firewire was born, it became a standard only after it was presented to the IEEE (and probably tweaked a bit) and dubbed IEEE1394.

Other standards are initiated directly by a standards body, creating a true industry standard. LTE and h.264 are good examples of this. They were born from the ITU and MPEG-LA, respectively. They get together a bunch of smart guys to figure out the new standard, but the price for a company's smart guys having a seat at that table is the requirement that any patents they hold that become part of the eventual standard become subject to FRAND licensing.

It was easy for PC makers to refuse to use Firewire, because it was just one competing standard that did somewhat the same thing. When the PC makers decided to go with USB instead, they didn't have to worry that every single consumer product in the world would be using Firewire and they'd be left unable to connect digital cameras, external storage, etc.

This is definitely not the case for standards like LTE and h.264. Since they were born of a standards organization as the next generation of a previous widely adopted standard, there's no way that say Nokia could have said "sorry, we think the LTE licensing is too expensive, so we're going to use China's TD-LTE standard in all our phones. That couldn't work, because telcos follow ITU - they're legally required to do so in many countries.

You can sell a computer that doesn't do Firewire in a world where device makers are allowed to make devices compatible with any standard they want - and even if they prefer Firewire they'll support USB when there are hundreds of millions of PCs sold in a year with USB ports. The telcos however don't base their decisions on what type of 4G technology to deploy based on what technology phones are out there. They're going to install LTE, and if your phone doesn't support it then you're SOL, making it hard for phone OEMs to "veto" a standard in the same way that PC OEMs did with Firewire.

2012 was warmest year ever recorded in USA

DougS Silver badge

Re: Two grains of salt to take with this data

No, you misunderstand. I'm saying that if ALL weather phenomena (aside from a decades long decline in temperatures) is considered to be something predicted by the theory, the theory is essentially unfalsifiable and thus like any such theory should be regarded with extreme skepticism.

If droughts, floods, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes, lack of hurricanes, even entire years with below average temperatures can be considered to be something that one would expect as a result of AGW, how exactly could we ever determine it is not happening? Aside from below normal temperatures lasting for a decade or longer - hopefully that would be sufficient. But I have a feeling that if it happened the AGW true believers would come up with some mechanism whereby something like (for example) the melting of the Arctic ice would cause some temporary changes to the climate lasting a decade or two, and thus even a 20 year long cold snap of below normal temperatures might not be sufficient to disprove AGW.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Two grains of salt to take with this data

I expected downvotes from the people who believe in AGW without question, because it offers the convenient prediction of "more droughts, more floods, more extreme weather" so anytime any of those things occur it can be linked to AGW. Trouble is, droughts, floods and extreme weather occurred long before there was any possibility of human induced climate change, so obviously they can happen without any linkage to it. But if I mention that possibility the alarmists are alarmed, and shout me down every bit as much as the climate deniers attempt to shout down AGW. Like a heretic at a church picnic

If 2013 happened to be the coldest year on record, the true believers will claim that, as an extreme weather event, it is also predicted as a result of AGW. When we recently had a couple years with few and weak hurricanes in the US (despite rather warm water in the south Atlantic, which typically leads to more/stronger hurricanes) this was excused as being the type of greater variation in extreme weather that one would expect from AGW.

I'm not an AGW denier, I guess you could say I'm an agnostic on it at this point. But a theory that can be used to predict everything that occurs and thus cannot be falsified is exactly as useful as belief in God as a scientific theory. In order to be convince those who have retained a healthy amount of skepticism based on the past record of scientific "groupthink", AGW needs to make some predictions that allow for the possibility that it may be falsified. Without that, me and those like me are never going to subscribe to it. You true believers can consider us dim and unscientific all you want, but I believe the opposite is true.

DougS Silver badge

Two grains of salt to take with this data

First, the US (and much of Canada) experienced a strange phenomena last year where the jet stream was pushed much further north than usual, to the edge of the Arctic Circle, for most of fall 2011, winter 2012 and spring 2012. We saw 50s and 60s (with a couple records broken) in the first half of January, along with the 80s (and a couple more records broken) in the first half of March due to that, which pushed the averages for those months up significantly. We only had one cold snap with temperatures below zero (F, the cold zero) where we usually see that two or three times a winter (so far one such cold snap this winter here, back in December)

Second, a very large segment of the US was experiencing a fairly severe drought in 2012. Dry air allows daytime temperatures to go significantly higher than moist air. We had a brutal July looking at the thermometer, but it actually was not as bad as a typical July because usually that's when the humidity shoots through the roof but didn't this year because of the lack of moisture reduced evapotranspiration that normally puts a lot more moisture in the air thanks to all the cropland (particularly corn - it "sweats" enough that after a wet spring we'll see dewpoints in the low 80s at times)

Based on these factors, I don't think the record for 2012 is a surprise, and the alarmists might want to tone down the alarm a bit unless the same thing happens again in 2013 and 2014. Now, one may try to argue that the jet stream circling the Arctic and the drought were caused by the same processes that are believed to cause global warming, but I haven't seen anyone claim to make a definitive association between them.

Apple may debut low-cost iPhone for emerging markets in 2013

DougS Silver badge

Ongoing revenue stream is overrated

Apple recently reported that it has now sold 40 billion apps from the App Store and distributed $7 billion to developers. Given that they pay developers 70% and keep 30%, it is easy to calculate that they've cleared $3 billion from the App Store in the past nearly five years that it has existed. How much does it cost to run? That's a lot of bandwidth, a lot of servers, a lot of people doing reviews, a lot of people developing the developer tools, doing support, fixing bugs, and so on.

But let's say all that is free, and Apple cleared all $3 billion profit. And let's further assume because there are more iOS devices out there that even though that profit occurred over nearly five years, that in 2012 they made a third of it, or $1 billion. A lot of money, right? Well, Apple will have made about that much profit each WEEK in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The ongoing revenue stream is nice, but it is comparable to having your boss buy you lunch once a month when compared to the money Apple makes from hardware sales. The big win in increasing the iOS installed base is that iPhone owners are overwhelmingly likely to buy iPhone again when upgrade time comes. They'll make more money from one owner buying another iOS product at any point in the future than they are likely to make from all the app purchases he'll do in his entire lifetime.

DougS Silver badge

I could possibly see something like this. Maybe. Perhaps.

The advantage would be that it gets people into the iOS ecosystem, some of whom will later become potential customers for the higher end iPhone, iPads, and whatever else they come up with. If everyone who can't afford an iPhone buys a cheap Android phone, when they can afford a high end phone they are more likely to choose Android even though they can afford an iPhone.

The disadvantage is that they don't want to tarnish their image of selling high end products, so I can't see them going too cheap. They wouldn't make a cheap plastic phone, I just don't see that. They could use the same body, perhaps altered to be a bit cheaper to make, and slightly thicker to save money by dropping the expensive and hard to manufacture in-cell matrix. Use a cheaper less accurate touchscreen matrix like most Android phones use, use their last generation (i.e. A6 if they sell it around the time the A7 is available) CPU. No LTE - perhaps no Edge, since I think that's mainly used in the US now and dropping it would make it less likely to be greymarketed into the US. Clock the CPU down a bit to allow using cheaper less power efficient components elsewhere in the phone without compromising battery life. Maybe even give it a LARGER battery, since in the less developed world perhaps nightly charging can't be relied upon if your power isn't reliable.

If they can get the cost down below $150 and sell it for $300 they'd be where they need to be. After all R&D and other costs that's in line with their overall corporate margin, though much less than their current iPhone margin. If they look at it as an investment in future growth that's a reasonable sacrifice to make, even if they do see some limited cannibalization of sales that would have gone to people who could afford the higher end model but decided the lower end one was "good enough".

The big problem is that they'd have to differentiate the "real" iPhone from this one. Not sure how, unless they decide to make the iPhone 6 larger since it seems as though the market has spoken and people want bigger phones (or maybe I only read about 5" Android phones and there are still plenty of 4" and under phones sold?) Only problem is, if too many people like the old size they'd buy the "low end" phone or keep their iPhone 5 as long as they could. Otherwise, they'd need some sort of killer feature introduced on the new one that people would be willing to pay for the high end model to get.

'Not even Santa could save Microsoft's Windows 8'

DougS Silver badge

Re: As an MBP owner...

Well, as a non MBP owner, I'd pay a few hundred extra for a 2880x1800 resolution screen on my laptop, but only Apple offers that. Or for that kind of resolution on the 27" monitor I have instead of the 1920x1080 it has. There are some 2560x1600 monitors out there, but they cost nearly $1000 versus under $300 for the same size in 1080p. Clearer more easily readable text is a good thing, and I'm willing to pay for it. Apple's sales of the Retina MBP shows I'm not alone in this.

Laptops and desktop monitors are far more in need of resolution increases than TVs and phones. Yet all we hear about are pointless hype about 4K TVs and 1080p phones that serve no purpose. I'm not hearing anything from anyone about higher resolution laptop screens aside from Apple, and even 1600p desktop monitors cost 3-4x what the same size panel in 1080p costs. Stupid. At least 4K TVs will have the side benefit of eventually making 4K resolution desktop monitors reasonably priced!

DougS Silver badge

Cannibalize your own market or someone will do it for you

Apple declined 6% in unit sales. Like Windows PC's 11% drop, that is likely because of people using tablets and smartphones for some of the tasks they used to use their Windows PC (or second PC) for. The sales decline for Macs hasn't hurt Apple, they're still raking it in with the sales of iPads. It does hurt Microsoft and Intel, because they aren't participating in the sales of tablets or smartphones to a degree that matters - certainly not enough to replace the sales they have lost and will continue to lose in greater numbers as the PC market continues its two year long decline.

Interesting that Apple saw a $100 increase in ASPs. That's almost certainly due to the product mix favoring the higher priced Retina Macbook. People like to complain about Apple's high prices, but Apple produced a product that's even MORE expensive, but obviously consumers believe the Retina screen and other features present on that model are worth the upcharge as they are buying it in great enough numbers to push up the ASP $100. PC OEMs would sell their firstborn for a $10 ASP increase, they can only dream about a $100 increase.

Bite us, Apple: Samsung hauled in $8.3bn in Q4

DougS Silver badge

This is probably why Google did the Nexus 4

They don't want Samsung (or any one OEM) to dominate the Android market too much, otherwise Google could lose control of it. It isn't as though the Android market needs Google branded phones to push the market in the right direction anymore. It did with the first couple iterations of Nexus, but not anymore.

Hey Lenovo, want to kill Apple? Look to Samsung hitman for tips

DougS Silver badge

Leading in innovation only matters if the innovation matters

Just because you think touch enabled laptops are the way forward doesn't mean the world will agree with you. If they choice is forced on consumers by including them (and the associated cost) on higher end laptops as a matter of course, it wouldn't be a successful innovation anymore than 3D TV was a successful innovation. That gets included on every higher end TV whether you want it or not, but marketing surveys show few people make use of that feature. Fortunately it costs much less of the total production price of a TV than the touchscreen matrix does on a laptop.

If given a choice between getting two laptops that are otherwise identical if the buyer actually had to pay the cost difference for the touchscreen, I suspect that once the hype dies down and people realize they don't want to be touching their laptop all the time the large majority of buyers would choose the cheaper option. Given that Intel is reportedly going to MANDATE a touchscreen in the next version of the Ultrabook spec, I guess they see it as something not enough people will want so they have to force the choice upon them. No one had to mandate putting touchscreens on phones, everyone immediately realized it was better than the old way so it happened due to market demand.

Microsoft and Intel excel at tossing a bunch of features and concepts at the wall and seeing what will stick. Those that don't are quietly abandoned and forgotten, like Microsoft's three previous major tablet initiatives. A lot of people claimed that Pen Computing, Windows XP Tablet Edition and the UMPC concept were major innovations as well, but after the hype died down and they failed in the marketplace they disappeared without a trace. You may want to wait a couple years before running a victory lap for the touchscreen laptop.

Hey, Apple and Google: Stop trying to wolf the whole mobile pie

DougS Silver badge

Re: iOS feature support

Gee I dunno - convenience? Not needing to carry a wallet??

That's great, so long as you ONLY buy from places that accept NFC payments, and never need an ID. That friendly policeman who pulls you over isn't going to accept your phone as proof of identity. Given how much Google already knows about people via their searches, they should be the last company on Earth one would willingly provide their entire purchase history to. Except those naive enough to still believe "don't be evil" means anything more than Goldman Sach's claims that they're "doing God's work".

Convenience again? Being able to place a phone down on your desk and have it charged when you pick it up, no faffing with cables.

Yes, because the 1.2 seconds it takes me "faffing" around to plug my phone into a cable is a terrible waste of time that could be better spent doing something else. I'd also love to carry a charging mat around with me when I travel. Most people charge their phones once per day - while they sleep. This is a solution looking for a problem, but geeks love it because it's "cool".

DougS Silver badge

iOS feature support

And in a year or two, you'll be seeing iOS supporting multiple users, NFC, wireless charging etc the way Android does today.


Google, and Microsoft before them, are very good at tossing out new features but not so good at making the end to end experience polished. To be fair, that's partly the result of them not controlling the entire ecosystem like Apple does. For all the whining about NFC, there isn't all that much it is good for. Sure, you can do payments with it, but why is that better than using a credit/debit card with NFC capability? What problem does wireless charging really solve that two seconds to connect a plug doesn't? Multiple users is nice, but the way Android implements it now is terribly clunky and totally unlike the experience people are used to on PCs with applications instantly shared, not having disk space divided in half, etc.

If there were no mapping apps, Apple would not have GPS in its devices. After all, what good is GPS without maps? Android would include it because its engineer-driven development gives it plenty of features, letting someone else worry about how to make them useful. Apple wants to include only things they know can be useful and can be a polished experience without nasty tradeoffs. So you may wait a while to get 3G and LTE, but you don't get hardware using early generation chips that suck your battery dry in half a day (or require thick heavy phones to accomodate the battery)

Luckily there is choice, as Android and Apple go different directions. I don't get all the Apple hate, if Apple was the only choice I could see people wishing for something like Android, but it's out there. Choose that, and shut the fuck up about Apple. Their existence as a choice doesn't hurt you, any more than the existence of Macs hurts your ability to choose Windows or Linux on your PC. I hate Windows, but you don't see me going on all the time about how much it sucks compared to the alternatives. It is only when I'm forced to use it work wise that it even effects me - and I really doubt very many peoiple work for a company that forces them to use an iPhone against their will.

Samsung confirms Tizen-based mobes to debut this year

DougS Silver badge

I wonder where they are planning to use them?

Is this just for low end products (maybe writing around whatever Android OEMs pay to Microsoft?) Or maybe only on the high end, to practice Apple-like control of the whole ecosystem? Or for everything?

From what I've read, Tizen can run Android apps, which is good, but of course this reduces the incentive for developers to ever code apps to Tizen's API (the OS/2 problem)

Google WON'T ink consent decree with FTC on search - reports

DougS Silver badge

Re: Badboy question

I used to think that. Then I decided they were rapidly approaching 1998 Microsoft levels of evil (although still some way short of the Cult of Apple) and decided on a full cull of Google at home and at work.

Goodbye, Android phone. Go spy on some other poor sap.


So I'm curious what phone you do use, given that you believe Microsoft, Apple and Google are all too evil for you to use their phone. Blackberry, I guess? Better hope they stay in business...

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019