* Posts by DougS

12863 posts • joined 12 Feb 2011

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: If you can stomach the nagware and price, it may be Droid of the Year

DougS Silver badge

Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

The 'tap power button 5 times' thing was replaced by holding down the volume down & power button for about a half second (as with shutting down the phone)

Dunno why people keep talking about passCODES. No one claiming to care about security should be using them unless their phone does not support a proper password! You can have a more complex password if you have some sort of biometric unlock that means you won't have to enter your password very often - having FaceID means I NEVER have to type my complex password in public. Thus I don't have to worry about a person or CCTV camera over my shoulder seeing me type it in.

People who complain about the insecurity of biometric logins but use a simple passcode they are constantly entering in public are worrying about the wrong things on the security front. I could MUCH more easily watch you type in a 4 digit passcode once or twice and get into your phone than go through the far more involved steps required to fool either a fingerprint or 3D facial recognition scanner.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Cost of Face ID sensors

Yes I wasn't implying Apple makes it, but that it costs them a lot more than an LCD, and that and the lack of the 3D Touch layer accounts for 90% of the cost difference between the XS & XR. The only other difference that matters cost wise is a single camera versus dual camera.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Can anyone tell me the advantage of face/print unlock?

Like XKCD says, the $5 hammer is the best device to unlock any phone. Almost no one would allow their hands and kneecaps to be smashed by a hammer rather than unlock their phone, so this works regardless of the security it is using. A determined criminal will get in your phone, there's no way to prevent it short of destroying your phone - though if they were willing to take a hammer to you to unlock it they might be unhappy if you destroyed it so I wouldn't recommend it.

The police may not resort to hammer based measures where we live, but they do some places. In more "civilized" places like the UK they can force you to reveal a password so the type of security makes no difference, you'll be in jail anyway just without broken hands. In the US they can't make you reveal a password, but they can make you perform a biometric unlock. So hit the volume/power buttons at the same time to disable Face ID / Touch ID when the cops are knocking loudly on your door, and hope they don't have any other evidence on you!

DougS Silver badge

Re: Apple didn't invent FaceID...

Apple could obviously have had concept devices out more than 5 months before they launch, they don't market that way. When Apple is first to market, with something people will say "well so-and-so showed a concept or had a patent about it first". When Apple is second to market, as with the notch, people will say they "copied" it - as if Apple could have copied Essential's notch when it came out only a few month before Apple and there were rumors Apple would have a display notch for over a year before the iPhone X actually launched.

There are only so many ways to solve problems like "how the phone owner can authorize himself to the phone" and "maximizing screen area when you need to have some stuff on the front face of the phone" so obviously the same solutions will be arrived at. Doesn't require anyone copying, and coming up with a truly unique solution to any of those problems is pretty unlikely.

I mean everyone knows that something better than the notch would be holes in the display where sensors go, and even better than that would be sensors that can 'see' through the display. Those will come, someone will be first to market, but it is virtually certain that Apple, Samsung, Huawei and others are all working towards that improvement so notches and top bezels go away.

DougS Silver badge

Cost of Face ID sensors

Was only a problem during the initial ramp up of the iPhone X last year, due to low yields. Once those problems were solved, it became a non-issue - which is why Apple was able to offer it on the cheaper iPhone XR. The big cost difference between the XS and XR is the OLED display with 3D touch layer.

They'll likely keep selling the XR next year for $100 less than today, just like they are selling the iPhone 8/8S now for $100 less than they were a year ago.

DougS Silver badge

Which could be fooled with a photo, so not the same thing as Face ID or the Mate 20 Pro.

FCC Commissioner slams San Jose mayor for not approving 5G cells… then slams him for approving them

DougS Silver badge

San Jose

Is hardly on the "wrong side of the digital divide", as I'm sure that idiot commissioner well knows. Most cities in the US could only dream about having their broadband options.

Guess who's back, back again? China's back, hacking your friends: Beijing targets American biz amid tech tariff tiff

DougS Silver badge

Re: Hypocritic US

Good thing no one outside your country has access to a VPN.

GDPR USA? 'A year ago, hell no ... More people are open to it now' – House Rep says EU-like law may be mulled

DougS Silver badge

I don't care what they do

Anything would be an improvement over the wild west we have over here now!

In news that will shock absolutely no one, America's cellphone networks throttle vids, strangle rival Skype

DougS Silver badge

Boosting the start of a video

That's probably to remove the perception that their network is responsible for later throttling. If you have problems and call for support, they can ask you to test whose fault it is by going to several different video providers. Since they are all fast for the 30 seconds you will test obviously Sprint is not to blame!

Google vows to take claims of sexual assault, harassment seriously, just like privacy

DougS Silver badge

Right to be forgotten

Either way Google is accepting censorship due to laws forced on it by other countries. Just because the EU is our friend (well, unless you ask Trump) doesn't make the slope any less slippery.

It is really splitting hairs to think there's a huge difference between individuals asking for censorship and governments asking, when in both cases governments are enforcing censorship via threats that Google must comply or not be able to do business there.

As if connected toys weren't creepy enough, kids' data could be used against them in future

DougS Silver badge

Blanket ban

If they do that, I'll change my birthdate in Facebook from 1904 to 2004!

Samsung 'reveals' what looks like a tablet that folds into a phone, but otherwise we're quite literally left in the dark

DougS Silver badge

Re: folding batteries.

A proper folding phone might sell by the boatload. It would have to be a trifold device so it unfolds to 16:9 and is MUCH larger than what you could get with a non-folding phone, weigh less than 8 ounces, and be no more than 1/2" thick when folded up.

IMHO, of course, but I don't see a device that unfolds to a roughly 4:3 like this one, and is only 7.3" at that, being much of a success. Most people would want a bigger screen for watching videos or gaming, and both need 16:9. They also want something MUCH bigger, getting something only a little bigger than what you can get now if you buy one of the larger phones isn't worth the higher price, greater likelihood of problems, heavier weight, reduced battery life, etc. etc.

DougS Silver badge

How would a folding monitor save space on your desk? The base is the same size either way, and that's what takes up space.

As for transport, yeah its easier but what percentage of people do you think move their desktop monitor more than once a year? This is far too much of a niche market for anyone to ever bother addressing - and if they did the price would be so high due to tiny volumes you probably wouldn't want to buy it anyway.

DougS Silver badge

Re: I'd go for one

They stole Samsung's thunder with a ridiculously terrible folding phone, yes. There's still room for a proper one, but based on specs alone Samsung's isn't it. A 7.3" screen is hardly bigger than the 6.5" screens common in large phones today. OK, given its aspect ratio it probably has 75% more screen area when unfolded but it isn't 16:9 so it won't be useful for watching videos or gaming - the two primary reasons most people would want a larger screen!

Curious, if you want one, what would you do with the bigger screen? You don't see an aspect ratio nowhere near 16:9 as a problem for your intended use? You don't see having it be much thicker/heavier as being a problem? You'd be willing to pay the rumored $1500 price to be an early adopter of this turkey?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Alternative

A phone with a built in projector is the ultimate niche market. You'd find more people who want a phone with a 9" screen that doesn't fold than people who want a built it projector!

DougS Silver badge

Re: This

The problem with the ~ 4:3 ratio this will have unfolded is that most people like bigger screens for watching videos. They'd probably be better off having it be basically a square when folded which is fine for using it as a phone or texting someone.

I've always said though that for a folding phone to really take off it'll need to be a trifold device to get the ratios right. That will mean something a LOT thinner. This thing would be REALLY thick when folded, though they might not have showed the real device that goes on sale. If this is what goes on sale, it isn't going to sell much.

DougS Silver badge

How they test matters

They aren't giving them to people to fold and unfold thousands of times. They are having it done by robots, which do it exactly the same way every time. In the real world, sometimes you slam it shut and sometimes you carefully close it, sometimes you torque it a bit to one side while pulling it open, it sits in your pocket and gets squeezed (perhaps a lot, given how thick that thing would be when folded)

So no, having a robot fold it 100,000 times would not make me feel confident it will be fine in the real world.

Dutch cops hope to cuff 'hundreds' of suspects after snatching server, snooping on 250,000+ encrypted chat texts

DougS Silver badge

Re: That broke rule 1 of creating secure services

If that's all they cared about they'd simply legalize drugs and tax them. Even at triple the normal VAT they'd be far cheaper than they are now, because the risk of being arrested puts a "crime premium" on drug prices. The more they crack down on them, the higher the crime premium is and the more you pay for a joint or a line of coke.

DougS Silver badge

Re: That broke rule 1 of creating secure services

You seem to think rule 1 is "let cops with a warrant snoop". If you set up a system where you cannot snoop because the communication is from one phone to another, you can tell the cops with the warrant "sorry, we can't help you".

Other than them trying to do like the FBI tried to do to Apple and make you push an update that changes that behavior, it is safe for criminals.

The reason most things aren't safe is that making a 100% secure communications channel is REALLY hard. Even with the unlimited resources of Apple, Google, and Microsoft they don't always get security right, so what chance does some guy selling a fly by night app have?

DougS Silver badge

Re: Sending a message

Usually authorities admit to stuff like this for one of two reasons. One, word has leaked that this happened (i.e. the guys who were arrested figured it out, or a cop on the take ratted them out) so there's no harm in making it public. Two, they will need to present evidence in court where they will have to disclose how they obtained the information so the cat's out of the bag if they want to get convictions.

DougS Silver badge

Re: New???

Without evidence of a criminal activity they seized the servers.

Without evidence you've assumed this. The article mentions a drug lab, it is likely they already knew or at least suspected they were involved with drugs, and if you're a drug dealer you obviously have to be involved in money laundering, so...

Depending on the circumstances under which they seized the servers, they might be able to look at all their customers if those circumstances made it likely they were mostly criminals (i.e. they sold them on a dark web site that is invite only for drug dealers, for instance) or they might only be able to target certain individuals that they have other reasons to suspect.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Impressed by the Dutch Fuzz

If the cops compromise the people running the service, they could simply modify the P2P software to send copies to a central server and push the update.

How many crims are going to sniff their outgoing traffic and figure that out? And if they do, how many will still be suspicious when they call support and are told the stuff being sent to the central server is harmless diagnostic information, to enable them to improve their software?

Six lawsuits against FCC's 5G idiocy – that $2bn windfall for telcos – is bundled into one appeals court sueball

DougS Silver badge

Bronx Telecom

Wouldn't need to have roaming agreements with anyone if they were addressing the market for fixed wireless. That's where the real money will be made from 5G. For mobile, 5G is just LTE with more bands available, there's no difference that will be noticeable to a smartphone owner so they will have no reason to care whether their phone uses LTE or 5G.

The same players who are dominant today will install some 5G antennas on the same towers they have LTE, using similar bands (i.e. 3G bands they have freed up) and only later go back and fill in the "small cells" in denser areas using higher frequencies and new antenna sites.

DougS Silver badge

Re: $270 per site per year

So if I decided I wanted to hang some 5G antennas on light poles the city should let me do it for $270 per pole? High band 5G licenses will be pretty cheap due to how much spectrum is being opened up, so mom and pop ISPs could easily spring up and do this. Somehow I think AT&T and Verizon would see things differently if a lot of local competition for fixed wireless sprang up and took advantage of "their" light-touch regulation environment. I think it is easy to see that it would be a problem if a dozen other people decided to do the same the poles were just bristling with antennas. One way you prevent that is for the city to set the rate - higher in bigger cities where more competition is likely (and cost of land is higher, blocking a lane off when guys are up on a pole is a lot more disruptive to rush hour traffic, etc.)

Upset fat iOS gobbles up so much storage? Too bad, so sad, says judge: Apple lawsuit axed

DougS Silver badge

Re: Sizes

I'll bet drivers are a rounding error in the size of Android installs. There isn't REALLY that much variation in Android phones, since there are only about a half dozen SoC vendors, and not too many parts to choose from for stuff that's separate like wifi, bluetooth etc. Even Macs have far more variation, and PCs are probably 2-3 orders of magnitude more than Android.

An operating system doesn't get to be 3GB in size without a lot of media like wallpapers, sounds, localization strings, and so forth. The amount of actual instruction/code in binaries probably increases at a very slow rate.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Sizes

Why should the OS be smaller on devices Apple has full control over?

This just in: What? No, I can't believe it. The 2018 MacBook Air still a huge pain to have repaired

DougS Silver badge

iFixit is providing the information

They are showing you what you will encounter so you can fix it yourself, and they sell you the "proper tools". Whether a phone or laptop you've repaired yourself will be worth less when resold depends on whether you've done a good enough job that it is noticeable or not. So long as the warranty is over, what's the harm? A broken device has no resale value except for parts, and a device you tried unsuccessfully to repair still has resale value for the parts...

If they were just going to give it a repairability score, they would simply have a table showing the scores they assigned. They wouldn't have the long writeup with lots of pictures and detail for what you will encounter like 'when you remove this board, be careful of the tiny ribbon cable attached to the back side'. They do that so the next person won't break something during initial disassembly like they occasionally do.

FYI NASA just lobbed its Parker probe around the Sun in closest flyby yet: A nerve-racking 15M miles from the surface

DougS Silver badge

Why don't they use multiphasic shields?

It worked for Voyager to enter a star's corona and stay there for hours!

Qualcomm: Welp, there's a $5bn-ish Apple-shaped hole in the books, but at least we have other chip buyers

DougS Silver badge

Qualcomm is dreaming

If they think 5G is going to drive a wave of smartphone upgrades. There isn't any meaningful advantage to it, a higher theoretical max speed is meaningless when you're already at 1 - 2 Gbps for LTE, which is far more than any single phone can make use of.

Their big problem is that with CDMA going away and Samsung and HiSilicon offering SoCs of similar capability, there is less of a reason for Android OEMs to choose Qualcomm SoCs so they'll be forced to compete on price.

Setback for Qualcomm: It has to license modem tech to competitors

DougS Silver badge

Re: FRAND definition

Pretty sure that error was El Reg's, not the commission's.

Dollar for dollar, crafting cryptocurrency sucks up 'more energy' than mining gold, copper, etc

DougS Silver badge

Re: Some nitpicking

The cost of resources tends to generally equal the energy cost to extract and purify them. Aluminum used to be insanely expensive, until better methods for processing the ore were found that required far less energy input. Titanium would be much cheaper than aluminum and used in place of steel for most things if a similar improvement could be made in its processing.

DougS Silver badge

Depends on whether you decide to account for the resource extraction required to generate the "primarily energy cost" part. Especially with a lot of bitcoin mining happening in countries that generate much of their power via coal. Gold mining isn't exactly clean, but compared to the environmental damage done by dumping the radioactive heavy metal infested fly ash, gold mining is like working in a cleanroom by comparison.

DougS Silver badge

If increasing CO2 could all be absorbed by plants, we wouldn't see CO2 in the atmosphere going up and up. I hate to think how much vegetation would be required to soak up all that CO2 - our world would probably have to look like Pandora with dense jungle and 1000 ft trees.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Proof of work vs. Proof of stake ..

I hadn't heard about such schemes but I'm not surprised. Anytime anything gets in the news as a way to "get rich" you'll have people preying on people's fear of "missing out". I remember during the dotcom boom when there were constant news stories in the US about people quitting their job and day trading full time, you couldn't turn the TV on for more than two minutes without seeing an ad for Etrade or similar companies. I'm sure countless people got into the market just in time to lose everything they put into it. I'm sure the story is the same with bitcoin.

DougS Silver badge

Re: Ending in 2140?

Probably the sensible answer would be to lower the transaction requirements and make more Bitcoins available in future.

No, the sensible thing is to abandon bitcoin. Trying to fix it is like trying if Microsoft had decided they could simply patch and improve Windows 3.x instead of throwing it out for NT. If there's a desire for a similar cryptocurrency, a more sustainable one can be designed from scratch taking into account all the failings and problems of bitcoin to do it right. There's nothing stopping the backers of bitcoin from designing bitcoin2 and providing a way to convert bitcoins to bitcoin2. Not everyone would follow, but it survived the fork of bitcoin and bitcoin cash.

Of course the holders of bitcoin don't want to see this happen, because the reason bitcoin is still insanely valued despite being useful for nothing aside from crime and speculation these days is because of its first mover advantage.

Mobile ops and Wi-Fi set to scrap for spectrum in the glorious 5G future

DougS Silver badge

Re: Replace WiFi?

5G was never meant to increase spectral efficiency over LTE, and doesn't. It is just as good as 150 Mbps LTE in that regard. Both max out at QAM 256, though the most recent 3GPP standard allows for QAM 1024 for both LTE and 5G - but you'd practically have to be under the tower to get sufficient SNR for that. 5G has one and only one advantage inherent to the protocol that makes it better than LTE - it offers significantly improved latency.

All the headline hype about 5G being "faster" (as if any phone needs something faster than the 2 Gbps we are already up to with LTE) is because new high frequency bands are being opened up for 5G. Meaning it will increase potential max speeds the same way that LTE > 150 Mbps has increased speed - by using more spectrum at once. There's a lot of room to grab really big swathes of spectrum at 28 GHz, after all.

DougS Silver badge

Re: 5G hype has become ridiculous

Yeah I'd like someone to explain exactly what need cars will have to pass hundreds of megabytes between each other. All they need to know is where the other cars are, how fast they are going, what they are planning on doing as far as turning/changing lanes/etc. and what "stuff" the car senses around it such as other cars, obstacles, signs, etc.

Even 3G would be massive overkill for this.

DougS Silver badge

5G hype has become ridiculous

Every day I see something talking about stuff that will never happen, like 5G making wifi obsolete, or leading to the creation of whole new ecosystems of devices - nevermind that these imaginary devices could work just well with LTE today rather than waiting for 5G unless they require millisecond latency.

You hear that self driving cars will require 5G for coordinating with other vehicles - as if communicating with a tower, out to the cloud somewhere, and then back again is somehow better than communicating directly with the cars near you. Nevermind that a requirement for 5G would be a problem for cars in much of the US for many years to come...

Mobile operators are making these claims because they want governments to give them swathes of spectrum for free, hoping that lawmakers will fear not doing so will leave their country permanently behind others and become another North Korea.

DXC: Everything is going to plan, too well in fact... we've chopped so many staff, our IT projects are now behind

DougS Silver badge

Better that being referred to as a "resource". I'd rather fly than be mined.

Russian computer failure on ISS is nothing to worry about – they're just going to turn it off and on again

DougS Silver badge

Re: Actually transistent failures are to be expected

The US no longer uses rad hard gear in almost all cases, they just shield it and rely on redundancy. Dunno if Russia has followed suit.

You still end up with trailing edge technology because it takes them a decade or two to design stuff that goes into space. You don't get to up the spec to whatever is current after you've spent years testing everything.

Foxconn denies it will ship Chinese factory serf, er, workers into America for new plant

DougS Silver badge

Re: Haha! <nelson laugh>

As the true scope of how terrible this deal was becomes apparent to Wisconsin voters, I'm sure Trump will attempt to blame that on the democrat governor that succeeds Walker. And his base will no doubt believe that, because they are really are dumb enough that they would continue supporting him even if he shot someone on the Fifth Avenue.

DougS Silver badge

Pretty sure this is all contractual, so the new governor will have no choice but to honor it. However, I'm sure he'll make a big point out of telling voters how they were taken for a ride by Walker and Trump as the bills come due. Trump won Wisconsin by a razor thin margin in 2016 despite the democrats running Hillary, this will easily be enough to cause him to lose the state in 2020 even if the democrats were dumb enough to run Hillary again.

DougS Silver badge

That "infrastructure and facilities" is over 95% roads and utilities like electric/water, which is only being run to that area because of the factory. So the money is truly wasted, versus spending it on roads where companies that will actually pay taxes might locate.

Heck, if they would have given a fraction of that money to Harley Davidson, they wouldn't have moved that plant overseas that caused Trump to call for a boycott.

DougS Silver badge

It was never going to pay off by 2042

That number was based on the original $3 billion giveway, not the newer $4.3 billion - and it really is a GIVEAWAY - there are no corporate taxes on manufacturing in Wisconsin, so they are actually writing checks to Foxconn! Trump and Walker were taken for a ride by the Chinese like no one ever has before!

The other problem is that it is located only 20 miles from Illinois, so some percentage of the workers will be Illinois residents who won't even pay taxes to the state of Wisconsin!

This is a giant boondoggle, it isn't surprising though that Trump is still crowing about it because he doesn't know or care about any of this. Or know or care what the truth is about much of anything since his followers get their news from mostly fact-free sources like Drudge and Fox.

British fixed broadband is cheap … and, er, fairly nasty – global survey

DougS Silver badge

I'm hoping fixed wireless 5G comes here in the next couple years

I have a choice between expensive but reliable VDSL2, and expensive and faster but unreliable cable internet. So I've stuck with VDSL2 because 40 Mbps that always works and is always at full speed is better than the cable crapshoot and monthly multi hour "maintenance windows" starting at midnight on a weekday.

A fiber provider said it was coming to town a couple years ago, but other than connecting up a few businesses they don't seem to be doing much so I've given up that they will save the day. This a university town that not too long ago had the second highest rate of postgraduate education in the entire US - you'd think if anyone would have broadband competition we would!

Lloyds Banking Group: We're firing 6,240 to hire 8,240

DougS Silver badge

They're doing it wrong

By hiring 3/4 of them back they won't save much money. IBM knows how to play this game, they would fire 6000 expensive people in the US, and replace them with 8000 cheap people in India. Just look at how much it has helped their stock price....oh wait...

Oracle 'net-watcher agrees, China Telecom is a repeat offender for misdirecting traffic

DougS Silver badge

Some good samaritan should fix this

It should be doable for someone with a BGP connected router to write a script that checks worldwide route advertisements and compares them to the destinations, and "fixes" routes that have been hijacked. Or at least publishes the information when it happens so things don't go 2 1/2 years without correction.

iPhone XR, for when £1,000 is just too much for a smartmobe

DougS Silver badge

Surprising how much difference LCD makes for battery life

Three hours more than the XS, which might be helped a little by the lower resolution but is mainly down to LCD being more efficient than OLED. Given how each technology works you'd think it would be the other way around.

Has science gone too far? Now boffins dream of shining gigantic laser pointer into space to get aliens' attention

DougS Silver badge

It only takes one "Dalek" species in the galaxy

That goes out and exterminates every civilization they become aware of as a potential future threat. Even if 99.999% of species are curious and friendly (and I'm not so sure we'd qualify) the one aggressor would kill them off and dominate the galaxy unless an older friendly species saw them do that and decided to kill them off for the good of the rest.

We're probably better off looking rather than knocking on doors until we know a LOT more about what's out there. The odds don't favor the door knockers.

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