* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Google readying on-device malware scanner for Android

DougS Silver badge

Re: The best response to malware is a permissions system that isn't broken

With Android apps, permissions are take-it-or-leave-it. You do not have a say in the matter (I'm not including rooting your phone, must of the people at work wouldn't even understand that phrase never mind actually do it). Users NEED to be able to say "oi! no."

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No, leaving the users in control only helps the knowledgeable users who are a decided minority. The vast majority of people will just approve anything presented to them automatically, whether it is an updated iTunes T&C that gives Apple ownership of your firstborn, a Windows UAC query, or an Android installation permissions request. It doesn't matter whether the app will still run without the permission, most people are going to automatically approve it no matter what it asks for.

In order to be secure, the user has to be left with no choice. You leave an out that says "I know what I'm doing, let me override your choices" for the knowledgeable people (at least those who own the device in question) and the masses can be safely protected by virtue of not knowing how to flip the override switch.

Samsung, not Nokia, fans' most favoured WinPho brand

DougS Silver badge

Re: How many just assumed that a Samsung phone meant Android?

Many average people don't have a clue what Android is, and don't realize that a Samsung phone and a Motorola phone are running the same software. When they see a friend's SGS3 and later hear a survey asking about Samsung Windows phones, some people are probably thinking "yeah that was cool, that's what I want".

'Mapsgate' fails to dislocate iPhone 5 demand

DougS Silver badge

Wait...what?

Do Samsung phones not use the same Google Maps data that iPhone used to? How is it that Samsung phones were navigating you two blocks from your house but iPhone directed you correctly pre-iOS 6 (I'm assuming this because you say with iOS 6 "it still navigates me right to my address as before")

Additionally you state that because of this navigation error, you switched to iPhone, but then go on to say that map-Gate is a big non-issue in your area. So if iOS 6's new maps had directed you elsewhere would you switch to Nokia, hoping they get it right? Or would you decide between Android and iPhone based on which came closer to your house? Does map accuracy only matter to get people to your house, but not elsewhere? Where do you live, a roach motel? ("roaches get in but they don't get out")

The only thing in your entire post that makes sense and I agree with is where you say "this whole map-gate thing is such a non-issue". I haven't had any problems with the new maps. They are better in some ways than before and worse in some ways than before, so it's basically a wash but they'll improve a lot now that Apple is in sole control (and the bad publicity will only help speed that along)

Unrootable: Mash these bits together to get a CLASSIFIED spyphone

DougS Silver badge

You can design a special purpose phone for 'classified' data...

And in doing so, end up with a phone that costs thousands of dollars each due to small market size versus the development costs, or you can design something that meets those requirements while also being more general purpose, to expand the potential market greatly.

Running a hypervisor on the phone, using the whole secure boot sequence, signed code, etc. seems a better way to go, then it has the capability to run not just the NSA version of Android or whatever you choose, but also a corporate approved load if you are say a Boeing engineer working on the next generation airplane. Then the thing has a chance of not costing $10,000/ea, not that this has ever stopped the US government.

Theoretically you could have a dual or software SIM and combine your personal work and work phone, so you get that secure phone with the corporate secret protecting load for people with access to the types of data corporate spies want to steal, along with the phone that can run Facebook and Angry Birds you want, without carrying two phones.

Apple files disappearing-feature iPhone patent

DougS Silver badge

Actually it would make the image BETTER

The reason iPhone 5 has the purple flare is because the lens is flush with the back of the phone, which it wasn't in previous iPhones (and all/most other smartphones) If you put your iPhone in a case that comes a few mm away from the back of the phone, the purple flare is gone. The inset required for the shutter would serve the same purpose.

UN locks Apple, Google, Microsoft in a room for patent peace summit

DougS Silver badge

Apple owns 5% of the entire LTE patent pool

Acquired from Nortel. The fact they didn't develop these patents themselves doesn't mean they are any less valid than say the patents Google now owns thanks to their acquisition of Motorola.

If Google and Samsung want to fight on standards based patents, Apple could just as well play their game and pull the agreements granting access to Nortel LTE patents from Motorola, Samsung and others and watch iOS and Android both go up in flames and see Windows Phone and Blackberry 10 take over the smartphone world by default.

I suspect this is an outcome no one but MS fanboys and RIM fanboys (are there any RIM fanboys left?) would enjoy.

10 million iPad minis to 'outshine' their big brother this quarter

DougS Silver badge

It'll certainly be thinner than its big brother

In fact, there's no reason it couldn't be made as thin as the iPhone 5. The bigger the screen the more room for battery in the same space, since the electronics don't take up any more room. The bigger screen requires more power, but none of the other stuff does.

Given how light the iPhone 5 is, and the fact that the extra volume would be mostly battery which is quite light, it would be close to a paperback in weight - more comparable to Kindle's reader rather than a brick like the Kindle Fire.

The big iPad will presumably be much thinner next year as well, so the "outshining" probably won't last long.

Of course, all this assumes they call the new thing iPad, and not something else....they'd want to keep the look consistent if they are both iPads, but if the little one is an iPod Video or iWhatever they would probably want to differentiate the look in some manner.

Bing is the most heavily poisoned search engine, study says

DougS Silver badge
Facepalm

People have been trying to game Google for years

And search is Google's bread and butter, versus being a money losing sideline for Microsoft. So it would not be surprising at all if Google is better at combating this gaming than Microsoft is.

Only buy Huawei or ZTE if you like being SPIED ON - US politicos

DougS Silver badge

Re: The Economist speaks

Doesn't matter where Cisco gear is made, the software is not written in China nor are the chips designed in China. It is WAY more difficult to insert backdoors when you are just putting together parts ala iPhone manufacturing. If on every product manufactured you add some extra chip or even replace one chip with something that looks identical which is a clone+spy it can't escape notice.

Now if you knew that a certain batch of routers was destined for somewhere you wanted to spy on you could just modify those alone, and maybe no one notices. So perhaps not a good idea to direct ship to customers from China, but instead ship from China to the US and then on to the ultimate destination.

When you preorder iPhones I wonder if they get shipped direct from Foxconn to the end user? If they put a shipping label on there showing it as being sent to someone in Congress, that would be a good one to add the spy chip to...

Motorola whacks laptop-like phone dock

DougS Silver badge

"If it had an Apple on the back"

It would have been closer to revolutionary and indispensable because it would have worked with tens or hundreds millions of phones instead of a single model of an Android OEM. More importantly, people other than techies would have actually heard about it.

I think this is the direction things will go as CPU performance on phones get further beyond what people actually need on a phone, and would further damage the laptop market beyond what tablets are already starting to do. But it will be a wireless keyboard/mouse and have a monitor with a connector or dock available on the base, rather than something docking in a laptop form factor. If you are travelling and bringing something the size of a laptop with you, you'll bring a damn laptop! They targeted wrong, it should be for home for people who use this in lieu of a PC.

This has been an obvious direction for a while, but it has to be done right for it to really take off. Not saying it has to be Apple that finally does it right - it could be Samsung since they are the largest Android OEM and they already make displays. This would be a good way for them to differentiate from other Android OEMs - they wouldn't want it to work in non-Samsung Androids for reasons that should be quite apparent...

It'll need basically a full Linux userspace installed on the phone, or in the case of Apple, an OS X layer running over iOS's Mach microkernel along with OS X userspace. Ironically it would probably have the best chance of succeeding on a Windows Phone phone running an Intel CPU since it could actually run real Windows, but Microsoft and Intel will NEVER do this until it is way too late because they don't want to risk their hefty margins for the much smaller margins for phone OSes and CPUs.

Massive strike at Foxconn's iPhone 5 factory

DougS Silver badge

Re: Move production to the USA.

I find it difficult to believe that assembling an iPhone would be something that would be "too complex" to be done by machines. People have limits on how exactly they can place something, machines do not. It's simply a matter of which is the more cost effective option.

At the rate the Chinese workers are currently paid, it is cheaper to hand assemble iPhones (and Lumias and Galaxys and pretty much every phone you can buy today) Ditto with stuff like PC motherboards, which are all put together by hand in a similar fashion. Just about anything electronic you can buy today is either totally or mostly assembled in China. Even Japanese companies like Panasonic and Korean companies like Samsung make some of their products or subcomponents in China because the wages are so much lower than in their own countries. People in the US in the 50s and 60s used to joke about "made in Japan" meaning low quality, things were made there because it was cheap. Now it is more expensive in some cases to make things there than to make them in the US!

If suddenly Apple, Dell, IBM, HP and all other American companies were forced by law to build their products in the US, I'm sure there would be a lot more automation. Likely also a lot more long lasting product shortages when products turned out to be more popular than first believed, because adding machine assembly lines requires a lot more time and money than adding more manual assembly lines.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Move production to the USA.

Well there is certainly an attraction to making them in the US, and they could be made in an automated factory rather than by hand so high US wages wouldn't be a problem. But it's not that simple.

The big attraction of making them by hand in China is the elasticity of production. When Apple first announced the iPhone they had no idea it would become what it is now. Steve Jobs suggested after they start shipping the first one that someday Apple might own 1% of the overall mobile market (not smartphones, which back then were a fraction of that market, but of the entire worldwide cell phone market) Pretty much everyone thought he was insane, but they are closing in on 10% now so he was actually underestimating how well it would be do by quite a bit.

If Apple builds an iPhone factory, what production targets should it have? That's rather important, given that upgrading the factory to seriously increase production takes many months if not longer while making the factory too big wastes many millions of dollars.

If Apple has US workers assemble them by hand, what do they do if they have too many workers? Lay them off, with all the severance expenses and bad press that would result? Or pay them to do nothing, like the US automakers used to do until it drove them into bankruptcy?

By outsourcing the manufacturing they get some flexibility in how many are made. If everyone suddenly thought the iPhone 5 was the single greatest thing ever made and they sold 50% more than their projections, Foxconn would have the capacity to make that happen. If it bombed and sold 50% less than their projections, Foxconn can have those employees build Nokia or Motorola phones that people were buying instead (yes, Foxconn makes their phones also - Samsung uses a different Chinese company to assemble many of its phones)

DougS Silver badge

Not rapidly

According to Tim Worstall, who writes part time for the Reg and I believe deals with rare earth metals in his day job, while rare earth metals are certainly not rare, reopening old rare earth mines isn't something you can do "rapidly".

Molycorp in the US is in the process of reopening its rare earth mine out west, but it is going to take years. They have been (still are?) developing new processes that reduce the rather considerable environmental impact of rare earth mining.

It's that environmental impact that caused US based mines and mines in most of the rest of the world to shut down. Why pollute here when the Chinese are willing to pollute their own country? Now that mines just about everywhere else have closed down, the Chinese have been able to be compensated better for polluting their own country by raising prices. Thus the incentive to start mining in the US again. Economics 101 in action! :)

ReDigi fights for right to sell used digital music

DougS Silver badge

The Supreme Court deciding something much worse

They are deciding whether "first sale doctrine" is only valid for things made in the US. Yes, that's right, you'd immediately lose the right to resell your smartphone, TV, computer, clothing, perhaps your car. At least your house is safe, so long as it isn't a mobile home imported into the US :)

The scary thing is that it has already been decided in lower courts the wrong way around!

Can't remember the name of the case, but it is a Korean (I think?) student in the US who found his textbooks were sold back home for less, so he had friends/family back home buy him books and resold them in the US, netting him over a million dollars before the textbook publisher sued.

Microsoft plans midnight launch for Surface

DougS Silver badge

There are enough MS fanboys

Surely a few stores in larger cities will see people queueing up, especially if the weather's nice. Microsoft just wants to make the regular (non tech) news like Apple launches, so regular people are aware of it and possibly consider it if they're planning on buying a tablet for Christmas. Whether it does well after the initial day's hype or not would depend on the pricing and quality vs. iPad, Galaxy Tab and Kindle HD.

I'm not sure that the 'sorta' Windows compatibility that doesn't extend to running the same stuff you run on your Windows PC, and having a keyboard in the cover that hasn't been a big seller for iPad and Android in the past year or two they've been available from third parties on those tablets, is enough to do this. Its success or failure will probably be a result of the strength or lack thereof of Microsoft's brand in the minds of consumers.

New science: seas will rise due to CO2 ... but not for centuries

DougS Silver badge

@Big_Ted

Tell that to the American Mid West which is in a long drought that its ok because the drought is just a periodic thing and so its not going to happen more often or that your lands will be waterlogged in the future......

If global warming is responsible for our drought this summer, what caused the far worse droughts in the 1930s and late 1800s?

We had very weird weather this year, with temperatures in the 60s in early January, in the 80s in early March, and then the drought this summer where we had about an inch of rain over nine weeks with some very hot weather (but that's normal during a drought because lower dewpoints make the air easier for the sun to heat) Until August we'd had 10 months above average temperatures in the state where I live, but now we've had two months with below normal and the 10 day outlook makes it look quite likely that October will make that three.

Basically what I'm saying is don't confuse the normal ebbs and flows of temperature and precipitation over a few months or a few years with climate trends that are being tracked and predicted over decades and centuries by both sides in the global warming debate. It's getting beyond ridiculous how every time there's any "extreme" weather that it is blamed on global warming.

It's nifty how people will claim that not only hot weather is evidence for global warming, but any sort of deviation from what is considered "average". The problem is, we only have average weather on average when averaged over decades and centuries. But in any one day/season/year we can have a record high or record low, or drought that lasts all summer or floods that last all spring, or a string of bad blizzards or tornadoes. They aren't evidence for global warming, they are evidence that the standard deviation for daily weather is quite high! Humans used to blame the deviations from average on angry gods, now we blame it on CO2.

WTF is... VoLTE

DougS Silver badge

However they end up doing it in the US, they'll choose multiple ways

Which will be incompatible with each other. There is, after all, not only VoLTE but also VoLGA (Voice over LTE Generic Access) Verizon will choose one, AT&T the other.

It'll be further complicated by having some phones only able to support one method or another, so some people will see problems that others don't see - even others with the same phone if it has a different software rev or even possibly a different point rev on the chips inside.

It'll be a colossal mess still five years from now. But hey, we're the US, we don't believe in regulating the carriers. Clearly having the country covered by GSM and CDMA networks utterly incompatible with each other is a good thing. Not for consumers, obviously, but for the carriers that don't have to worry about letting their customers roam over their competitors' networks!

Formlabs preps first home stereolithic 3D printer

DougS Silver badge
Coat

Re: New Opportunity for Office Theft

I think you'd find the market for scaling UP would be more profitable...

DougS Silver badge

Need 3D laser scanner to go with it

There's all manner of stupid little bits of plastic that snap and you wish you could replace them.

Of course the real problem then is learning to use a CAD system to be able to produce the 3D model of what you want to make :)

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Then you don't need a CAD system, so long as you (or some helpful person on the web) can scan an unbroken version of that plastic part.

Then the next question is how would the strength of these replacement parts hold up? If they can make it as strong as whatever that horrible stuff that's used for packaging that is difficult (and dangerous if you're careless) to cut even with some heavy duty scissors, then they'll really have something!

EU, US edge closer to mega-transatlantic patent system

DougS Silver badge

Cooperative Patent Classification system will consist of the following classes:

Good patent worthy of protection - 6%

So much gobbledegook even a patent attorney can't make sense of it - 9%

Patent for an idea instead of a specific implementation - 24%

Patent for something that already exists "in a mobile device", etc. - 47%

Patent for something no one will ever use because you get a bonus from your company - 11%

Patent for something years ahead of when it's possible hoping to profit later - 3%

Patent for the idea of having stuff adding up to over 100% - 1%

iPad mini to go on sale in one month?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Media Hype

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. You point out that Apple has roughly 2/3 of the tablet market with only a 10" tablet, while the competition sells both big and small tablets. Why wouldn't they want to sell a mini tablet, surely there are some people for whom the iPad is too big and/or too expensive who might consider a smaller iPad if Apple sold one. They may cannibalize their 10" market to some extent, but if you don't cannibalize your own market, someone else will do it for you.

Also, which "stellar results of media predictions on Apple products" are you referring to? When the media laughed at Steve Jobs prediction at the original iPhone release that someday Apple might take as much as 1% of the worldwide mobile phone market share (they are closing in on 10% today) Or when the media thought iPad might see some success, but would never be more than a blip on the radar compared to PC sales? The media does tend to overhype Apple these days (10 million iPhone 5s in a weekend, anyone?) but perhaps that's because they've been made to look silly in the past underestimating Apple, so now they are erring in the other direction.

Tablet and laptop sales neck and neck

DougS Silver badge

When people say "end of the notebook era" or "end of the PC era", NO ONE is suggesting that PCs and laptops go away entirely, or anything close to that. The suggestion is merely that those markets have peaked and will now see sales falling rather than rising.

None of this makes what you say untrue, there will always be a big market for people who need a PC of some type because they need a real keyboard or more power. The reason tablet sales are doing so well and will continue to grow is that of people have been buying PCs who used them for little else beyond email and browsing. They don't packaged software, don't do a ton of typing and don't need a fraction of the power of a modern CPU. Tablets give them some real benefits over laptops in terms of the form factor, not having to worry about malware and constant security updates, etc.

Some people in this thread apparently seem to think that laptops that became tablets when you snap off the screen will become big sellers, but I really doubt it. Laptops that become tablets will be more expensive than just plain laptops and the tablet part will be a compromise that's thicker and heavier. People invested in Windows will buy them, but they will only be a fraction of the tablet market. The people I've described above don't want a PC at all, and will be happy to leave Windows' troubles and complexity behind.

Linux-based Tizen mobile platform lives!

DougS Silver badge

They wouldn't want it to run Android apps

I'm pretty certain it will run Android apps, considering MeeGo and Maemo can, using Alien Dalvik.

It wouldn't be in Samsung's interest for it to run Android apps. If it did, then there would be no reason for anyone to ever develop apps specifically for it, and they would have no lock-in.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Need Apps

Samsung and the other Android OEMs are currently struggling to differentiate their brands from each other. They add layers like TouchWiz but it's still Android and someone who buys a Samsung phone can easily replace it with an HTC phone and keep running the same apps and have everything work pretty much the same way totally unlike trying to switch between Android and iOS. I'm sure Samsung would love to get a little bit of the Apple style lockin so that once someone buys a Samsung it is a more difficult decision to leave them for someone else.

A small Android vendor couldn't hope to go it alone, but Samsung sells more phones than anyone. If anyone can do this, they can. They can make the API similar enough to Android that ports are easy, pay developers to port some of the most popular apps, and subsidize pricing at first so a GS3 class phone is free with contract. Given that a lot of buyers don't really know what sort of OS their phone runs beyond "there's iPhone, there's Blackberry, and there's everything else", Samsung could probably sell enough to quickly get developer interest even if people who know what Android is and specifically choose it wouldn't touch these.

Apple Maps to the rescue in China/Japan conflict

DougS Silver badge

@Khaptain

What MAJOR features does the S3 have over the iPhone 5? Or over the original Galaxy S for that matter? Fandroids love to get into spec wars when comparing phones, but the longest list of features doesn't make the best phone unless you prefer a kitchen sink approach.

In my book, the last major features in the smartphone world (which I define as things that you must have) are multitouch, gyros/sensors, GPS/mapping, and an API for third parties to easily create applications. The original iPhone and the original Android both had all of these. Everything that's been added since there are incremental improvements caused by Moore's Law and advancing standards: faster CPUs and graphics, support for 3G/4G/newer versions of wifi/bluetooth. Then there's stupid crap that 1% of people use like HDMI, stuff that's basically only a geek toy today like NFC, and stuff that's sounds cool but serves no useful purpose like wireless charging.

I'm not saying that those incremental features like better performance or handling newer standards like 4G don't matter, but those aren't innovations in any sense. Thinking of stuff like "hey, I'm sure a few people would think it's useful to have a barometer in our phone, let's add one so we can point to another feature the competition lacks!" is not innovation, it's just adding things without a clear goal of accomplishing something useful or solving a problem end users generally have.

DougS Silver badge

@Khaptain

Why else move from the 4s to the 5 when there are no major advantages.

Hang on, haven't you fandroids been telling Apple fanboys how larger screens, 16:9 format and LTE were major features that no phone should be without? Now you seem to be dismissing those as not being major. I guess if iPhone adds NFC you'll shut up about that and start complaining about how the Galaxy S3 has a barometer while the iPhone doesn't?

Google promises autonomous cars for all within five years

DougS Silver badge

Re: Five years? They're on crack

I do love every time we have a story on auto-cars we get comments along the lines of "it won't handle a junction or something unexpected".

Sure, it'll handle 99.9% of everything it runs into. It's that 0.1% that humans will deal with better in many cases.

Look, I have faith that computer driven cars can be much safer than human driven cars. They don't get distracted, bored, angry, sleepy, drunk, etc. which account for the bulk of accidents. They will mostly avoid the accidents that humans get into. However, they'll also get into some accidents most humans WON'T, because of that tiny percentage of things it won't handle correctly that for humans is not that hard. That's going to be their achilles heel.

I think cars will be computer driven with a human required to be in the driver's seat and required to be ready to take over at a moment's notice the second the computer becomes uncertain of what it should do for well over a decade before we can sleep in the back seat while the car drives us home.

DougS Silver badge
Flame

Five years? They're on crack

Maybe it'll be able to drive your car for you on simple roads like interstate highways, but navigating city streets? Google Maps may be way better than Apple Maps, but they still contain enough errors that you don't want your car following their instructions and driving you into a cornfield or a creek.

How the hell is it going to deal with construction zones? Sometimes even I, a human with a lot more vision recognition ability than even Google can muster, has to slow down and think about exactly where the hell the high school dropout who placed the cones and signs is trying to tell me to drive.

Nevermind driving in rain, snow, or fog. And I'm only thinking about the US. Traffic lights and stop signs make for pretty simple intersections. Having a computer navigate a complex roundabout seems a lot more difficult. The narrow roads in some areas of the UK will present big problems too. Sometimes the only way two cars can pass without busting mirrors or worse is to drag the side of one or both vehicles in the hedges (I've always wondered if that's where the expression "hedging your bets" originated) Is a Google driven car going to be willing to hit a few hedges without tripping its collision avoidance? Or will it stop in the middle of the road and force its human to take over?

I think these problems can eventually be solved, but if overzealous idiots try to push this technology out to the general public before it is REALLY ready, all they'll do is harden a public perception that it is dangerous and/or worthless and should be banned and avoided, and set back actual availability by a couple decades.

Blazing new comet may OUTSHINE THE MOON in 2013

DougS Silver badge

RTFA

Article says Nov. 28 2013. That's Thanksgiving Day here, so if it turns out as bright as all that I'm sure it'll be known as the Thanksgiving Day Comet in the US.

I'm not getting my hopes up, as I'm just old enough to remember being a little kid when Kohoutek came by and being bitterly disappointed when the hype turned out to be just that.

Intel CEO thinks Windows 8 isn't ready, insider claims

DougS Silver badge
Pint

@Cam2A

If you are bypassing changes then you are hardly a useful preview participant anyway.

Ah yes. Shoot the messenger.

If the changes suck so much that even people invested in Microsoft enough to take part in the preview program are forced to find ways to work around them, that speaks to a pretty serious problem. Sticking your head in the sand and saying "you'll get used to it eventually" won't make it go away. It will only guarantee that Microsoft doesn't hear the legitimate complaints and drops a bigger turd than Vista.

As one of those one percenters (Linux desktop user) who uses Windows infrequently, and thus can stay on Windows 7 for nearly a decade if necessary as I did with XP, I sit back with my beer in hand and await the appointed meeting of shit and fan later this fall.

Smartphones may soon listen in on you while they sleep

DougS Silver badge

Can't see how this is useful

So if I watch one of the Apple commercials advertising Siri with my phone sitting on couch next to me, would it try to respond to Zooey Deschanel? Yeah, that sounds like a useful feature.

This is why you have to hit a button before you talk to your phone rather than just looking in it's direction and talking to it like you talk to a person sitting next to you. People can pick up on visual cues and know when you are talking to them rather than the person next to them. Phones can't do this. Maybe it could figure out if you are looking at it if you happen to be in view of its front camera, but if my phone is lying on the couch and I'm sitting to the side of it, it can't see me unless it gets a fisheye lens and runs the front camera ALL the time.

Talking to your phone when it's sleeping will become useful the day you can say "come here phone" and it will levitate on little air jets and fly across the room into your hand. OK, that's really not very useful at all, but it would certainly come up all the time when fanboys of that phone tried to argue it was the best :)

iOS 6 maps can't find Sydney Apple Store

DougS Silver badge

Re: @ Mark C Casey

My point is, I don't think it's possible for anyone to release something better than Google Maps from day one. Doesn't matter who it is, doesn't matter how long and hard they work at it. The world is way too big, you need user feedback and more importantly telematics to see where the problems are so you know what needs fixing. Apple has been giving away their telematics data to Google for free for five years, helping Google get better faster than they otherwise would have. Now Apple will be able to make use of that data, and improve at a very fast clip (because they have a lot that needs improvement)

Your argument seems to be that if you can't match the competition from day one, you either shouldn't try or you should wait until you can. Well, with maps I'd argue it isn't possible to match the competition from day one and you can wait forever and this will still be true, so your argument becomes that no one should ever try to do maps ever again, and just rely on those who have already done it. That strategy was not working well for Apple, as their Google powered maps app was far behind the Android maps and was going to fall ever further behind for obvious reasons. Maps are important for smartphones, so Apple had to do something since they were getting a terrible deal from their main competitor. If it was Apple that had been doing mapping since 2005 and Google was relying on Apple for maps, I have a feeling all the fandroids who are making hay over this would be saying it is a long overdue move for Android to dump Apple's maps.

Apple users will suffer a bit in the short run, but with a quarter billion iOS 6.0 users, they will be flooded with telematics data to enable them to identify and correct problems. It'll take time, but they can prioritize issues by how often people run into them so it won't take long before the average iOS user doesn't see any major problems with Apple Maps. It took Google seven years to get where they are because back in 2005 no one had Google Maps on a mobile device, and that's where you get 99% of the useful data. Apple will be able to get their maps in decent shape - not close to Google Maps, but good enough Apple Maps is no longer a joke - by next summer if not sooner by targeting in this way.

They will probably never be better than Google Maps, or even equal to it, but they don't have to beat Google for their maps to be a success. They don't even have to beat where Google Maps is today. They only have to beat the old iOS Maps app, which in case you haven't much experience with it, is not a particularly high bar.

DougS Silver badge

@ Mark C Casey

Second, google maps only has rare occasional mapping problems. I can't actually remember the last time I came across something incorrect.

You do realize that Google Maps USED to be worse than Apple's Maps when it first came out, right? It was a joke, mapquest was far better and the only thing worth using for a while. But Google improved it, and part of that was via user feedback - I corrected a couple things in it myself in the past.

Apple Maps looks terrible because it is released in 2012, when the other mapping apps it's being compared to have had years worth of improvements and user fixes. There isn't any way to get the user fixes without releasing something and getting that process started. That's how Google had to do it, and that was the only way forward for Apple unless they'd bought Nokia.

If Apple had released iPhone 5 as a psychic phone, that would know who you were going to call and dial it for you before you had time to hit the buttons yourself, even if it failed to read your mind and you had to dial yourself 50% of the time people would think it is pretty amazing. But if Windows Phones already did this and did it right 98% of the time, people would say Apple's psychic software sucks. Perception has a lot to do with what comparison is being made.

DougS Silver badge

Re: its become a bit fashionable to say 'Steve wouldn't let this happen...'

The issues are in the data which lives on Apple's servers (same as Google Maps' data, which lives on Google servers) They can update this stuff anytime and the app will immediately have the correction, you don't need to wait for an iOS release. Not saying the maps app itself is perfect, I'm sure it has some flaws too, but if the data Apple got from Tom Tom was better we wouldn't see so much broken stuff. Maybe they should have talked to Nokia instead.

Or hell, just bought Nokia, between the maps and the patents it would have been worth it, getting Ballmer to throw chairs would be a bonus!

All you need to know about nano SIMs - before they are EXTERMINATED

DougS Silver badge

Re: You Apple haters don't get it

Yeah, well, that most certainly works great if the phone with the virtual SIM on it has died, doesn't it?

Do you not understand that a software SIM is just bits? How can bits die? Your carrier issued your that SIM, it will ALWAYS have a copy. When you first install/activate it on a phone, it would mark it as "copy number 1". You happily use that phone and then one day it decides to catch fire while charging and is toast. So you get another phone, use its SIM management app to connect to your carrier (presumably with some type of password) and download a new copy of the SIM, marked "copy number 2". When activated, the carrier will automatically deactivate copy number 1 - so if your old phone was like the guy in Monty Python who was not quite dead, if it tried to connect using that SIM the carrier would reject the attempt as copy number 1 was no longer the active copy of your SIM.

Again, this is better than a hardware SIM, because with a hardware SIM you're screwed if the phone catches fire, is lost, or is stolen, and you're SOL until you can get a new SIM. If it was a prepaid SIM, you may be out whatever money was left on it when this happens. Just loaded it with $100? Too bad for you, that's money down the drain (literally, if you dropped your phone down a culvert) With a virtual SIM you can issue yourself a new copy immediately, which will deactivate the old one.

Combined with using the capability in modern smartphones to brick a stolen phone, and stealing a phone would be so pointless thieves would go back to holding you up for your wallet (reportedly, one of the reasons thieves like stealing phones so much even though many owners will immediately brick them is to use the SIM to ring up "free" overseas calls)

And there's another benefit of a software SIM. If you keep your phone locked, a thief can't run up your bill. With a hardware SIM, a locked phone doesn't stop them from popping that SIM in another phone.

DougS Silver badge

Re: You Apple haters don't get it

Why does it have to be a physical SIM? If there was a "SIM management" app on iPhone and Android that let you transfer it locally (bluetooth, NFC, wifi, whatever was available on both ends to communicate) or let you connect to the carrier to do it (deactivate on one and activate on the other) how would that be any more difficult than popping it out physically? Especially if you have one of the phones that locates the SIM under the battery, meaning you have to power cycle the phone to swap in a SIM.

If you had an iPhone that supports only a software SIM and an Android that supports only a hardware SIM it might be more of a pain, but it could probably still be made to work - your carrier would just have to supply a matching hardware and software SIM. You'd have some way of activating the hardware one with the carrier after it verifies the software one had been deactivated, and so on in reverse.

However, assuming software SIMs were made a standard (which may never happen) I'll bet it would quickly become the norm in Android and Windows phones, not just iPhone. In fact, given Apple's once a year product cycles, it would be a virtual certainty that Apple wouldn't have the first phone on the market implementing it.

Having a SIM management app that could hold multiple SIMs would be great for the markets where having dual SIM phones is the norm (even more so for certain of those customers wishing they could have >2 SIMs installed in their phone at once) For people like you who typically only want one SIM at a time but want to swap them around frequently, being able to use an app to zap SIMs instantly from phone to phone makes it no different from having a hardware SIM. Better, in fact, because you never have to worry about breaking or losing it.

It is only because it is Apple proposing this idea that people don't like it. If it was Nokia or Google proposing this as a standard I don't think there would be as many people like you resisting it. I would think it is a no brainer to take something that can be lost or damaged and replace it with indestructible bits. Though I suppose there are some people who still prefer the printed page over PDF files...

DougS Silver badge

You Apple haters don't get it

This isn't some evil Apple plot, all they want to do is take SIMs from being physical to being virtual. Instead of physically pulling out a SIM you'd transfer it electronically (download from the cloud, transfer via NFC, whatever)

They want to get this approved as a standard so carriers would be forced to support it. That won't force other phones to use it, so as with physical keyboards and removable batteries, some would stick with the old physical SIMs for those customers who prefer them.

Just because Apple does something doesn't mean everyone else who doesn't use Apple is being forced to follow. But Apple haters love to complain about Apple doing things like nano-SIMs or a new dock connector even though it doesn't affect them in any way whatsoever. I don't complain about the Lumia 920 having wireless charging even though I think it's a useless gimmick, so why should a Lumia or Samsung owner care what Apple does? If you think they're doing something stupid you should applaud them, as it would mean fewer Apple customers, which I think any Apple hater would be happy to see.

Fans rap Apple's 'crap' Map app

DougS Silver badge

I hope they have a way for users to submit issues and corrections

With over 300 million iOS devices upgradable to iOS 6 out there, this app is going to see a lot of use. Many of the inaccuracies could be addressed quite quickly if there is a SIMPLE method to report issues back to Apple (i.e. a button on the UI, not an email address) They'd need a team of people to investigate and fix them, but presumably they have that in the form of the people working at the mapping company they bought a few years back.

Google's maps didn't get to where they are without a lot of user feedback (for instance, I fixed the location of my business, as searching for the address dropped a pin in a vacant lot a couple hundred yards north of the building's actual location) Apple will need to do the same thing if they hope to catch up.

If Google pushes out the maps app for iOS fairly quickly they could make the Apple maps app suck much longer, as anyone who uses mapping a lot and doesn't need turn by turn would probably install Google's app and mostly ignore Apple's maps.

Forty Canadian birds BONKING against windows EVERY MINUTE

DougS Silver badge
Linux

How many birds are there in the world?

I laugh when I see people get worried about a small number of birds hitting wind turbines or being killed by UK cats, or striking windows. There are so many birds, none of these things makes a difference unless they preferentially kill rare species. It is only the bleeding hearts who can't deal with even one wild animal dying through "human" causes but won't shed a tear if predators kill them by the millions.

Tux, because he's smart enough to not run (into) windows.

Fanboys order 2m iPhone 5s in 24 hours

DougS Silver badge

Re: Profiteering

Errrr...are you saying they should they not count as sales if you buy them to resell? That's a strange definition of sales you have there!

Apple makes money off the sale no matter what the end user decides to do with it. Even if it is to make a "will it blend" video.

Apple's first batch of iPhone 5 preorders sold out in an hour

DougS Silver badge
Flame

Re: Gee...

Yes, the last time they did this with the iPhone 4S they really fooled people into thinking it was much more popular than it was. They only sold 37 million in Q4 and another 35 million in Q1. What a failure!

If they sell 50 million this Q4, as analysts expect, will you still say they're "pretending the iPhone is a lot more popular than reality dictates"? Because what, these launch shortages could only be real for a product that would sell 100 million next quarter?

Apple Lightning adaptors reveal limitations

DougS Silver badge

@Dave 126 - Re: @Annihilator

Yes, you are missing something. The speaker jack is on the bottom now, so even if Apple doesn't do it, a third party could easily produce an adaptor with the 30 pin dock connecter to hook up to your speaker on one end, and attach to both the new dock connector AND the speaker jack on the other end, so you can still get your analog audio.

That's probably why they moved the speaker jack to the bottom at the same time they changed the dock connector...

DougS Silver badge

Re: Yikes!

Who says that third parties won't be able to make these? You're assuming this because there aren't any available on launch day? Maybe it takes more than a few hours for the Chinese factories that sell the $2 connector cables and adapters to reverse engineer this new one and ramp up production? There will be some electronics involved in the adapter, so it may not be $2 - it could be (gasp!) up to twice as much!

Screw waiting and seeing rather than assuming, I'm sure it's more fun for you to whine, despite the fact this won't affect you since you own a Samsung phone and presumably would not buy an iPhone 5 no matter what kind of dock connector it had (or even if it made you a cup of coffee in the morning and then walked the dog)

Smartphone sales to new users 'have peaked'

DougS Silver badge

Re: There are still untapped markets

For example the business and engineering market. Not everyone wants a shiny toy, there are people who want to actually _do_ something.

Such as? What do existing phones need to have to be able to serve these needs that apparently only you see? Do they need to be bigger, faster, come with a full sized qwerty keyboard, what?

If it is software, then I can't imagine there aren't already apps out there that serve these needs (though perhaps not as well as you think they should) unless you are talking about exact compatilibility with specific things like Microsoft Office or Mentor Graphics, in which case I think you'll find the reason those apps don't exist is because it is ridiculous to think one could be productive with them on a phone.

iPhone 5 to boost US GDP says JP Morgan

DougS Silver badge

When iPhone 4S came out and it added far less than this there were a lot of people predicting the same thing, yet it broke all sales records. They will do the same with iPhone 5, even if it that's all it has. LTE and a bigger screen have been the major reason for some people to choose Android. You know, average people, for whom phones are a tool rather than a religion - who are not "choosing Android" because they don't know what the hell Android or iOS even are, they just know "this phone has LTE so it's faster, and a bigger screen, so I want it!" Now people who feel their phone must have LTE or at least a 4" screen can consider Apple where they previously wouldn't. That will help Apple more than adding every other feature any other phone in the world has all in one glorious package.

What exactly could be new that you think would be deserving of an upgrade? Wireless charging? Pointless gimmick. More megapixels on the camera, better lens? Yawn, every phone makes incremental improvements here with each model, but real photo buffs own an actual camera. NFC? Mostly useless without some wide ranging merchant agreements that make it useful in more than a fraction of retail outlets. Quad core? Don't make me laugh. HDMI? Stupid. Projector? Even stupider.

There really isn't much in the way of major improvements for smartphone hardware on the horizon, from this point it'll be software improvements enabled by industry agreements (with retailers, music/movie industry, and so on) that enable real benefit. Only fanboys care about hardware specs like cores, clock rate, RAM and so on, what matters is being able to do totally new things with it. Smartphones subsumed the function of PDAs/addressbooks, casual cameras, GPS devices, and portable music players. Those were what was important, not adding a camera or adding GPS.

Think about what other things a smartphone could obsolete or what things in our daily lives we do in some other way that a smartphone could do better/easier. That's where smartphones will go next. Not gimmicks like wireless charging or projectors.

Phones are getting those gimmicks today because they are out of really good ideas for the moment, but people who compare phones based on specs and feature lists demand something new to start fanboy flamewars over, not caring that they don't ever use the feature. Consider how Android fans used to slag on iPhone for not having an HDMI port. iPhone still doesn't have it, but all those people realized that it is stupid to brag about a feature on their phone they have never used in the two years since they bought it, so you never hear people saying their phone is superior because it has HDMI anymore.

Intel to turn Ultrabooks, all-in-one desktops into giant tablets

DougS Silver badge

Re: Sheep, all I see is Sheep

To be fair, Intel is just trying to protect their quasi monopoly since they make money on most PCs sold but make nothing on tablets and smartphones which today all use ARM. They are hoping to snowjob consumers into think that a touchscreen laptop is the best of both worlds (it isn't, tablets are way more portable than laptops) I suspect the big PC vendors who aren't participating in the tablet market (Dell, HP, Lenovo) will be the ones really pushing these, while the PC vendors who participate in the tablet market (Samsung, Acer) will be more lukewarm to the idea.

Even if Intel was able to interest some tablet/smartphone vendors in using x86 it isn't really a win for them (they won't convert Apple who are control freaks and design their own ARM SoCs, nor Samsung who designs and needs to fill their fab capacity with their own ARM SoCs, but the rest are potential x86 converts) As the market moves to more smartphones/tablets and fewer PCs, Intel trades $100-$200 profit per chip for $10-$20 profit per chip, with a potential market that is far less than 10x larger.

Companies are only willing to hurt their own markets where they can make more money. Apple knew iPhone, if successful, would put a massive dent in the iPod market. But they make a lot more per iPhone sold than they made per iPod sold, so this was a good deal. If it was the other way around, they probably wouldn't have released iPhone until it looked like someone was about to dent the iPod market with a phone and accepted that reduced profit was better than no profit at all.

Touch tech firms tap Intel for factory cash

DougS Silver badge

I'm curious how many people would ever want a touch enabled laptop?

I can't see the point. I'm talking about a normal laptop that is a laptop in every way except it has a touch screen. Does anyone think they'd use this as more than a novelty?

Thumb up if you agree with me, thumb down if you think I'm an idiot and of course you want a touchscreen laptop. Curious to see how Reg readers feel about this...

More 'iPad Mini' tat pics leak ahead of Apple's big unzip

DougS Silver badge

Dumb displays

What is in that box that your dumb display would connect to? A CPU, some RAM, some storage (flash, unless you want it to store a large DVR's worth of video) and some sort of Wifi, along with video encoding/decoding. You could put all that in a display, and anything important that makes a "smart" displayer "smarter" would be done via software. It wouldn't be unless there's a major change like the MPEG2 to MPEG4 switchover that you'd want additional hardware. Even then, you could have a little card that plugs into the display that is a small PCIe board that contains whatever you may ever want to update.

Look at how much Sony has been able to enhance the PS3 through software updates alone. The Blu Ray player has improved a lot, added 3D capability, and so on. Obviously no one wants a TV on a smartphone like replacement cycle, but I don't think people would mind too much if they had an expected lifetime of 5-10 years, which is about how long dumb displays are built to last today. If your TV lasts longer you can put it in your basement or spare room if you absolutely MUST replace it with a better model.

Apple's soon-to-be-slurped securo firm shrugs off crypto warning

DougS Silver badge

If you have administrator access

Then presumably you can install keylogger software and obtain the passwords of anyone who logs in to it after that date. Not only for the PC, but any other site they login to, see the emails they send others even if they were sent encrypted, and so on. Yes, I know, in domains there is local Administator versus domain Administrator and you can lock down what local Administrator can do - but if it's possible to prevent them from installing drivers (i.e. keyloggers) then I'd expect you could also prevent them from reading the file that the fingerprint reader software keeps its encrypted passwords in?

If someone has physical access or administrator/root access to a computer, then you really shouldn't worry about there being some sort of potential attack on an encrypted file that stores passwords, because they can easily steal those passwords directly without needing to attack anything.

It sounds like Windows should provide a better way for stuff like fingerprint readers to hook into the OS and validate logins, as saving passwords (no matter how encrypted) seems like a really braindead way of doing it...

iPad no flight risk says Federal Aviation Authority

DougS Silver badge
FAIL

Please spare me

In theory - but the next time that you fly, check out how many people ignore the safety briefing by reading a newspaper or the inflight magazine.

So what? It's always the same information, anyone who has flown more than a handful of times already knows how to fasten the seat belt, where the exits are, how to put on your oxygen mask if they drop down, the procedure for opening the emergency exit door, and so on.

If they were teaching me how to land the damn plane in the event that both pilots died and it was left up to me, then I'll listen intently each and every time because those would be some very complicated instructions, as well as being different on different planes. But the instructions they provide at the start of every flight are simple enough I could have followed them when I was five years old, so please forgive me for not giving it my rapt attention when they are repeated for the umpteenth time!

Think about this. Which is more likely to cost lives, people flying who have never heard the instructions provided before the flight, or people driving a car who have never been given instructions for what to do in case their car becomes submerged in water, stalls on a deserted road with below zero temperatures, has a flat tire on a freeway in a construction zone with nowhere to pull over, etc? No, this isn't an invitation for some nanny state solution of having a two minute safety presentation in my car every time I turn the ignition before I'm allowed to put it in gear...

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