* Posts by OffBeatMammal

507 posts • joined 25 Jun 2007

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Pixel 2 tinkerers force Google's hand: Secret custom silicon found

OffBeatMammal

wish they'd focus on power consumption in Android for their flagship phones... whatever else this elusive custom silicon does the only thing I care about is actually getting a phone that can survive a genuine day when I'm traveling, not need recharging every few hours. while I'm not a fan of iOS because of some of the restrictions/limitations (and clunky UX) I'll often find myself carrying my old testing iPhone SE in preference to my current Pixel to handle the battery anxiety issues!

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GE goes with Apple: Not the Transformation you were looking for, Satya?

OffBeatMammal

Re: ArrrrrG!!!

agree on the keyboard. it's pretty horrible which is why I ended up putting a new battery and bigger SSD in my old Macbook Air to keep it alive!

I actually worked at MS for about 8 years all told, and managed to use a Mac as my daily machine (even though I had no real justification!) most of the time... and in the last few years it was a better machine to run Windows (even via Fusion) than the Surface Pros

One of the great things about the Macs is standardization ... at my new place of work I can walk into any conference room or hot-desk area and there's a USB-C and a Magsafe connector on every desk. To do the same across the wide range of PCs is near impossible. Surface has done a good job keeping their connector consistent, but Sony, HP, Acer, Lenovo etc over the years I ended up with a collection of model-specific power bricks.

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Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull hints at surveillance expansion

OffBeatMammal

while we're at it, why don't we simply roll all the State licensing bodies into one... standardize the driving tests, road rules, and licensing. Would reduce a lot of duplicated effort and frustration. Today we live in a country where it's possibly to communicate from corner to corner at speeds no-one would have believed when the original systems were put in place so the need for these duplicate, similar, but not quite the same, systems is now only historical

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Audit office finds Telstra's universal services were good politics, bad deals

OffBeatMammal

It's disappointing to see Telstra, even with a big bucket of money behind them, failing to deliver on promises, especially when there are incremental things they could do that might not be roll-out of 5G (or other headline-worthy things) but would help both city and rural customers (eg follow the Comcast Xfinity model of opening up home wifi hotspots to the Air/Fon network to back-fill coverage)

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Patch your Android, peeps, it has up to 14 nasty flaws to flog

OffBeatMammal

sigh. still stuck on 7.1.2 (Aug 5 2017 update) on my Nexus 5x

would be more inclined to think they cared if they actually delivered patches to existing devices in a timely manner...

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Microsoft may have its groove back but it's binned 'Groove'

OffBeatMammal

They never took it seriously, for instance refusing to develop clients for iPad (while, as a company, trying to force people to develop for a one-size-fits-all appstore).

The UX for managing your own music was always half-arsed, and even though they pushed paid content it was hard to compete with Spotify or even Pandora.

It's a shame to see MS fail, again, at a consumer service... but a reminder not to get too attached to anything they do that's not enterprise focused.

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Joint Committee on the NBN splits, as National Party member sides with opposition

OffBeatMammal
WTF?

At the moment I live in the US - Comcast may be shit, but they can deliver a steady 100Mbps down (and 25Mbps up) for $100/mo.

We're moving back home to Aus at the end of the year, and I suspect my daughter will last about a week before demanding we move back to the US so she can get a decent ping time.

It's embarrassing that this project has been burning so much money, for so long, and the roll-out is so far from completion while our neighbours in NZ, and much of Asia leave us in the dust.

It's not like any of this is rocket science... people know how to roll out reliable, cost effective, highly performant networks ... but the politicians and their mates, the consultants and the greedy contractors saw the dollar signs flashing and we're left with this crock

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The new, new Psion is getting near production. Here's what it looks like

OffBeatMammal

agreed! I remember years ago using a Sony Vaio "Picturebook" as my on-call device, tethered to my (1st gen) LG 3G flip-phone (if I couldn't find a landland!). Now luckily with remote desktop software and an iPad Mini I'm pretty much good to go, but sometimes the on-screen keyboard is enough of a frustration that this form factor would be good to get back to

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It's official: Users navigate flat UI designs 22 per cent slower

OffBeatMammal

did they run these tests with an ad blocker in place?

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10 minutes of silence storms iTunes charts thanks to awful Apple UI

OffBeatMammal

not just cars...

I have a similar frustration with Alexa and Spotify.

"Alexa, play Chemical Brothers on Spotify" will *always* play tracks in the same order, even if you had shuffle turned on before.

So, my routine is now more along the lines of:

"Alexa, play Chemical Brothers on Spotify", "Alexa Shuffle", "Alexa skip"

or ... totally defeating the voice centric model, I use the Spotify app to select what I want, hit the random button and then tell it to play on the relevant Echo device...

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Don't buy Microsoft Surface gear: 25% will break after 2 years, says Consumer Reports

OffBeatMammal

The "3" in Surface Pro 3 for me was the number of warranty replacements I had to go through before I finally gave up on the machine.

First failure was the battery ... apparently holding a charge for more than 30 minutes is desirable, but when the device is a sealed unit it's really hard to replace the battery.

Second failure was the screen stopped responding to touch except for about a 1" strip ... but that's glued to the unit as well and not replaceable

Third failure it just refused to power up at all and the tech couldn't work out what it was so got the final replacement.

The biggest problem for me though was the painful process of re-imaging the replacement machines (and this is a general Windows gripe) ... because of the convoluted registry it's not as simple as just doing a 'backup your apps and documents regularly and you can restore to a new machine" ... you have to reinstall programs (which is a pain if there are serial numbers or specific configurations that have to be re-created).

I've quickly learned that the only place to keep documents is in the cloud (because I've Office365 I use, and like OneDrive, but GDrive or Dropbox are equally useful) because when Windows borks it tends to bork hard.

I almost got a Dell XPS13 as the replacement, but I do a lot of video conferencing on the road and the camera position was just too weird, so now I'm using a Macbook Air (with Windows in a Fusion VM for the odd occasions I need it) and I'm very happy

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I've got a verbal govt contract for Hyperloop, claims His Muskiness

OffBeatMammal

how deep?

just wondering how deep he's have to go in the US to avoid needing to get permission... then it's just the stations that would need an okay...

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Microsoft offers cloud to Baidu, gets autonomous car in return

OffBeatMammal

maybe they're just rolling out Skype so your can can have a friends list too....

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Who will save us from voice recog foolery from scumbags? Magnetometer!

OffBeatMammal

and guess what my Bank has just done...

... yup, rolled out "my voice is my password" for phone authentication. Sigh.

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Hotel guest goes broke after booking software gremlin makes her pay for strangers' rooms

OffBeatMammal

Re: "Sounds like a lawsuit"

also, will this leave a note on her credit history that needs to be explained away...

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PayPal peed off about Pandora's 'P' being mistaken for its 'PP'

OffBeatMammal

New Pandora logo is horrible

Personally I hate the new Pandora logo. So much so that while it used to be the first music app in that folder on my android phone (so became the groups primary icon) I moved it to second place so I didn't have to look at it all the time. The result is I'm using Pandora a lot less and Spotify more. I did submit a customer support request back when they made the change to undo it!

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Don't install our buggy Windows 10 Creators Update, begs Microsoft

OffBeatMammal

and even when it's delivered automagically it can still f#ck you up...

I have a couple of machines that came pre-installed with W10 Home. Because RDP doesn't work on Home (and I couldn't see the point of paying for Pro just for RDP) I use RDPWrap (https://github.com/stascorp/rdpwrap) and have done since Win7 days as needed. For some reason Creators Update borked it. Not a problem, except now I can't remote into the machines which are several hours drive away. Sigh.

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TPG to create Australia-wide mobile network

OffBeatMammal

my guess is that they plan to use a mix of the spectrum they just bought and wifi calling by turning broadband customers modems into hotspots to help fill in the backbone in areas where they have less dense coverage.

Google Fi and Comcast in the US have had some success with that model, and as a (US) T-Mobile customer I do like the wifi calling fallback when the mobile signal isn't strong enough.

The downside of relying on wifi for backfill though is that the range isn't good so in more rural areas you're less likely to be close to somewhere you can use for a boost.

This is one instance where having a single infrastructure company who owns the towers and then leases capacity to the 3 or 4 consumer facing telcos would make more sense ... their charter would simply be to provide 100% coverage but rather than each Telco having to build towers they share footprint and amortize costs...

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As Trump signs away Americans' digital privacy, it's time to bring out the BS detector

OffBeatMammal

Comcast vs Google isn't Apples to Apples...

a lot of comments are saying that Google has an unfair advantage when it comes to monetizing user data. that's wrong, for a couple of reasons:

- I'm already paying my ISP to provide 'carriage' for my data, if they're not making money they can always shut down ... as it is they keep upping my monthly bill for no improvement of service

- Google make money by making their services attractive. unlike the ISP I have choice when it comes to search or email

- my ISP (potentially) has visibility of every packet in and out of my house, no matter what site I am visiting

- Google (or Facebook or whoever) only get visibility over what I do when I am on their site, interacting with their services or viewing a page that has chosen to include one of their ads in.

by allowing unlimited spying and additional monetization of the traffic I put over my ISP this ruling potentially exposes things I don't want shared with advertisers ... for instance I have just had surgery on my spine so there's a bunch of research I've been doing on the procedure, the recovery, and the various drugs that I'm being prescribed along the way, as well as interactions with the medical staff via their website (nicely SSL'd so less concerned in this case)... I hate to think what spam I'd start getting as a result of this for recuperative products, ambulance chasing lawyers, drug dependency rehab clinics etc...

so, the outcome is this drives users to HTTPS, Encrypted DNS requests, TOR, or VPNs... all of which add overhead but also obfuscate the data on the network even more thoroughly... which in turn makes their efforts to find the terrorists and kiddy fiddlers harder.

another great example of why politicians should not be allowed to make policy!

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WWW daddy Sir Tim Berners-Lee stands up for end-to-end crypto

OffBeatMammal

how do the authorities know he checked whatsapp? that would imply a certain level of access either to a now unlocked device, or the whatsapp data. if all they have is a network trace showing that whatsapp received a message it could be totally irrelevant...

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Reg now behind invisible HTML5 Bitcoin paywall

OffBeatMammal

first thought was "this could work" followed by "sure I've seen it before" .... https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=9042.0

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With Skype, Microsoft's messaging strategy looks coherent at last (almost)

OffBeatMammal

don't give them too much credit just yet.

the Skype UI is a mess, and the add-on things (like SkypeIn, calling minutes) is so convoluted and overpriced it really looks like they're trying to be a traditional carrier vs the potential to create a useful global platform

Skype for business is faring a little better in recent months, especially with the new macOS client, but still has some crazy UI/UX decisions around the interface and how conversations are (mis-)handled

and please, for the love of $DEITY$ would someone explain why I need two clients with a significant amount of overlap... Outlook can manage to talk to Exchange, IMAP, POP3 etc, Trillium could talk to every IM protocol going etc, but we still have to have a 1:1 relationship with client:chat persona :(

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'Clearance sale' shows Apple's iPad is over. It's done

OffBeatMammal

totally agree... I used an iPad Mini4 and love it both as an eReader and for note taking, but having to use the on screen keyboard is limiting and sadly because it's not a "Pro" their Pencil won't work with it, and while there are a bunch of third party active bluetooth stylii available a lot of apps like OneNote don't provide support for them (I know OneNote supports "Pencil by 53" but that's like using a crayon!)

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OffBeatMammal

so new processors, more memory and price reductions are not a good thing these days?

pundits calling the iPad "done" should perhaps compare how well they're selling vs an even faster declining PC market.

for sure, there are areas where the iPad could do with improvement, and certainly areas where iOS could become less crappy but unlike so many of the Android tablets Apple continue to create a product that actually meets the needs of it's users and while we nerds may get pissy about incremental improvement sometimes slow and steady is a good strategy.

while Apple have lost the plot at the moment with their Pro laptops I think the reaction has been strong enough that they'll get their head back in the game and we'll see things continue to innovate, but there's no point adding features if they just add cost and not benefit

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As Microsoft touts Windows Insider for biz, let's take a look at W10's broken 2FA logins

OffBeatMammal
Facepalm

2FA still not user friendly

my biggest complaint about most of the 2FA solutions out there is they are a pain... either I have to insert a USB device (find my keyring, plug it in, use it, try not to forget it!) or type in a secret code that expired 1 second before I hit enter!

when I say some of the yubikeys supported NFC I thought for one moment they'd solved both the clumsy USB plugging in problem and being able to support iOS/Android devices ... but nope. Most PCs don't seem to support NFC readers yet and while most smartphones can use NFC it's not integrated into the unlock process or developers aren't using it to support unlock

when you look at some of the crazy 2FA login schemes out there (First Direct I'm looking at you) there's a lot of frustration to be removed by whoever comes up with a good solution first...

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Christmas Eve ERP migration derailed by silly spreadsheet sort

OffBeatMammal

Re: Ah, Excel sorting

but... why would you edit an intermediate file not the master "source of truth"? and again, Excel CSV import can be told about formatting so it knows what columns it should treat as (say) text. I'm not an Excel fan, but most gripes with it are down to how people use it - watching the magic that experts can whip up is astounding!

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Police raid India call centre, detain 500 in fraud probe

OffBeatMammal

Re: Similar Scam in Hong Kong

Actually, with the rise in off-shoring here in the US and every call center now routing to somewhere in India or the Philippines it's a rarity to actually call and get a genuine American accent. Not saying the US call center does any better of a job, but I'd certainly be more comfortable knowing that access to my financial information is staying within geo-political boundaries

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DirecTV Now to give Apple TV free for those who take 3-month deal

OffBeatMammal

was this written by a human?

I, this article, tried to read. Confused and bewildered I have to the conclusions come, that some sort of Turning Test is it. Perhaps also with a free giveaway and discounted brain cell option.

I'm used to sometime strange stylistic use of Language on El Reg, but this one certainly the biscuit takes.

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Adblock overlord to Zuckerberg: Lay down your weapons and surrender

OffBeatMammal

Re: Funny you should say that...

that's why I either use Brave as my browser on mobile (ad blocking turned on by default) or surf via a VPN (PIA) which has an option to block ads/malware

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No nudes, bloated apps, Android sucks and 497 other complaints about Apple to the FTC

OffBeatMammal

so... rather than just bitch about it here... I was inspired to file an FTC complaint, and kick off a petition (hey, you never know) ... please show your support ... https://www.change.org/p/tim-cook-apple-to-allow-users-to-choose-default-applications-and-services-on-ios-devices

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OffBeatMammal

the complaint, and question I'd love to see put to Apple, is regarding default apps.

on Windows, Android, and even OSX I can choose my default browser, my default mail app etc... and thanks to DoJ investigations, consent decrees and EU oversight... that works as intended.

yet on iOS no such freedom exists. want to default to Google Maps? nope. Firefox as your browser of choice? nope.

why, as such a dominant player do they get a pass on such anti-competitive behavior?

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Australia's e-Senate vote count: a good start but needs improvement

OffBeatMammal

why paper at all?

why not eliminate the air-gap and go end-to-end electronically?

(though that would be an, um, interesting challenge to secure ... though Estonia seems to have managed)

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Florida Man's prized jeep cremated by exploding Samsung Galaxy Note 7

OffBeatMammal

In the US at least Samsung have not gone through the "official" recall process - http://www.consumerreports.org/smartphones/consumer-reports-samsung-should-officially-recall-galaxy-note7/ ... this means they're handling it themselves and that maybe opens them up to liability especially as retailers are still potentially selling ticking time bombs. I did see of one report where a Note7 has set fire to a hotel room and Samsung have agreed to pay for the damages (http://gizmodo.com/galaxy-note-7-explodes-in-hotel-room-and-causes-nearly-1786279887)

Sad really... I was going to get one last weekend, but seeing the news I might hold off for a while...

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Brave idea: Ex Mozilla man punts Bitcoin adblocking browser

OffBeatMammal

generate the bitcoins based on dwell time

Why not tie is back even closer to the value of the site... have the browser mining for bitcoins (as part of a pool of all Brave users) in the background and depending on how long I spend on a site deposit the appropriate percentage of earnings with the site in question.

the longer I stay engaged with a site, the more it earns. so TheRegister which continues to amuse and inform would get more of the slice of the pie than, say, Wired which daily becomes less relevant...

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Microsoft releases firmware fix for faulty Surface Pro 3 batteries

OffBeatMammal

Re: So far so good...

similar experience... before yesterdays update I'd get somewhere between 45 mins and an hour on a full charge. yesterday after the update (and another reboot for good measure) I got over 5 hours before the thing finally ran out of juice and I had to re-tether.

what is frustrating is I had to go through a whole return/replace procedure on my original SP3 for this issue that I could probably have avoided

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OffBeatMammal

Re: "Microsoft shifted 275,000 Surface Pro devices ... In contrast, the iPad Pro sold 107,000 units"

true. the Macbook neither works as a tablet (no removable keyboard) nor does it (or any other Mac laptop) support touch (which is pretty commonplace in the PC world). it's a good little laptop, but it's not a fair comparison.

the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro are more apples to apples (pun intended) even though the Surface is a more general/backwards compatible computing device and the iPad Pro essentially a jumped up phone ... but in terms of the sorts of things you can do when you plug in the keyboard and swipe around the touchscreen it is a fair comparison... especially when you look at the price tags

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Microsoft's beta language service gets C# dev kit

OffBeatMammal

Re: What is it exactly?

LUIS parses a given sentence - supplied as text (from a chat client, Speech-to-Text functionality, or otherwise prepared and delivered) - and returns an intent and entities (eg assuming the developer has built a model for a music player then "I want to listen to Sade" would give me an intent of "PlaySong" and an entity of "Sade") - it leverages both specific domain training data (supplied by the developer in the form of annotated phrases) and then overlays that on the general Corpus that Microsoft have build for the language understanding models. The models can be a little more sophisticated (eg prompting for missing required items) but are fairly simple to train and interact with.

The developers application may know about you, but your interaction with LUIS is anonymised via the proxy that is the app you're interacting with (though depending on how that's architected there may be correlation possible via IP address)

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BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

OffBeatMammal

maybe the vans just contain stealthy gentlemen armed with a small drill and an endoscope camera and they simply observe rooms where suspect action takes place... low tech and they can even take photos of the evidence ;)

in other news... as an ex-pat, I'd pay a license fee to watch the BBC here in the US (not the BBC America mess) but I suspect the audience isn't big enough for them to tweak iPlayer for the FireTV to support that...

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Remix chomps Marshmallow, updates its Android for PCs

OffBeatMammal

why no linkage love?

I've noticed El Reg is becoming a little lax in linking to the actual company / product, preferring instead to send us to other articles on the site. Sure, I can type in a URL or go Bing my way around the internet, but it would certainly add value if I could do something that I thought was the whole idea of the World Wide Web directly from the article...

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Latest Windows 10 build loves up cloud, banishes 'strange grey bar'

OffBeatMammal

Re: How many average users will use this stuff?

unlike Google and to some extend Apple with their iCloud strategy.

hybrid cloud/local solutions are here to stay, and I'd probably trust MS more than I do Google not to monetize based on the content of my Word docs

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Shhhh! Facebook is listening

OffBeatMammal

those settings are only available in the latest Android flavours (assuming your OEM doesn't bork them.

I install most apps now with very restricted permissions and only turn things on if something breaks because there's been too much abuse of trust

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P0rnHub revamps bug bounty, back pays cash, hires staff, after criticism

OffBeatMammal

Re: What's on the T-shirt?

Not all backdoors are fun

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As US court bans smart meter blueprints from public, sysadmin tells of fight for security info

OffBeatMammal

Wonder what the power consumption of these meters is... and who for them (us of course)

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Surface Book nightmare: Microsoft won't fix 'Sleep of Death' bug

OffBeatMammal

Oh, and turn off Connected Standby on battery. That shit likes to suck the life out of your battery

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OffBeatMammal

Not just the Four and Book, the Three has the same issue... in fact the overheating in my bag was a suspect in rapidly diminishing battery life (getting 40% of original charge a year on).

Windows 10 and the Surface devices are disappointing. Sadly MacBook hardware hasn't improved much since 2012 either so options are limited (at least OSX is better behaved, unless you are a gamer)

Run 'powercfg /energy' to check your battery health...

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World goes SIM-free, leaving Sony and HTC trailing behind

OffBeatMammal

disposable :(

the problem - for me - is that all three major flavors of Smartphone (well, two plus Windows which I still think is under-rated) are generally a pretty meh experience.

Android has a problem with stability and robustness. When it works, it works well (even when vendors like HTC and Samsung pile their cruft on top of it) but when there is a weakness then fixing it seems too hard. My Nexus5X is a case in point... multiple times a day the Google Calendar app crashes for no apparent reason and when it's done that enough times the phone reboots. If Google can't get their flagship devices right what hope have random Chinese vendors

iPhone has a problem with the locked down OS. Sure, there are lots of apps and the phone is <sarcasm>magical</sarcasm> but what if I want to change the default Map app, or browser, or ... well anything for that matter. Didn't Microsoft get forked over by the DoJ and the EU for that sort of behavior? Apple make decisions as to whats good for me and still expect me to shell out several hundred quid every 12-18 months for a newer shinier model (now in champagne with hints of rose gold). And OMG please stop with the bespoke connectors.

Windows Phone... largely uninspiring designs and still far too few "cool" apps (but Windows 10 does seem to be making a difference) but the ecosystem is a mess and while W10 is largely better than what came before it the attention to detail and rush to add shiny new features (that no-one wants) is distracting them from making a bullet-proof OS that's easy for developers to build for which in turn leads users to buy without fear of getting left behind in the app race.

All three suffer from crap battery life and pretty awful hardware robustness. Big slabs of glass are fragile, but it also seems the innards are designed to self destruct after about 24 months to keep us on the upgrade cycle so they don't build in anything apart from obsolescence.

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JavaScript daddy's Brave ad-blocker hits Android, Apple stores

OffBeatMammal

Wired

looks like the folks at Conde Nast are trying the option of paying to avoid ads - if you have an ad blocker, they block you unless you buy a subscription. Sadly the price tag for that subscription (especially as I still have a subscription to their magazine) seems disproportionate to what they'd be earning from the advertisers if I was putting up with the crap they think is "acceptable and in keeping with their content" (seriously, I will never drink Gatorade, even without full screen take over ads putting me off the idea!) ... I like the idea of a micropayment scheme where I could pay the same rate as the advertiser to the hosting network not to show me crap. But then again it's easier to just cross Wired off my list for now

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Toshiba denies it will exit the PC market

OffBeatMammal

they have been for a while

given their level of customer support, and even sales support, I think they've been winding down for a while now and making sure they don't get repeat business is as good a way as any to guarantee an exit...

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Earthquake-sensing smartphone app fires off early alerts of disaster

OffBeatMammal

is it only California that has Earthquakes?

had a quick look at the app and it's very California-centric. Sad really as there are other places, even in the US, that have earthquakes. Uninstalled

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FTC: Duo bought rights to Android game – then turned it into ad-slinging junkware in an update

OffBeatMammal

Re: Slap on the wrist

jail time costs the tax payers. fine them 110% of earnings for each infraction, soon changes behavior.

of jail time but in a facility where the prisoners have to be revenue positive - sorting litter/recycle, working on the roads...

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