* Posts by OffBeatMammal

546 posts • joined 25 Jun 2007

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GG n00b lol! Amazon frags support for its own games controllers

OffBeatMammal

sad

I'm not a big gamer (bejewelled is still my go-to!) but I do enjoy kicking back at the weekend and playing a bit of Asphalt8 on my FireTV with the gaming controller.... if it's stopped working with this latest update I'll be a bit disgruntled (it's not quite the same playing it with the FireTV remote!)

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Plex plucks media cloud service, sends users scurrying to exit

OffBeatMammal

I didn't use the Cloud option so not too worried ... hopefully it means they can continue to develop a great solid product that my family can use (it replaced our old Windows Media Center which was much loved!)

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Guys, you need to sit down and have a chat: Skype rolls out SMS a week after Microsoft

OffBeatMammal

the Skype capability (for me) is much more useful than Windows as I use Skype on Android (phone), iPad, and macOS ... so the ability to read/reply to a text on my phone from Skype on my iPad or Mac would be great (because I'm cross platform I won't use iMessage)

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Unpicking the Pixel puzzle: Why Google is struggling to impress

OffBeatMammal

I've had a pretty good experience with return/replacement process both for my Nexus devices (my 4 was rock solid, my 5 needed replacing twice, my first Pixel2 lasted a week but had a battery fault and was also painless to replace) but at the time I was in the US. Now I'm back further from their logistics center I'm a bit more worried how things will be handled in the future... that, and the awful leak photos of the be-notched Pixel3 makes me suspect I'll need to look elsewhere.

As the price tag has gone up every generation the incentive to actually upgrade has gone down, especially with things like headphone jacks and SD cards disappearing (the first annoys me several times a week because I've already lost two USB-C to 3.5mm adapters!)

For me, the big selling points of the Pixel have been the camera, the minimalist skin (though I do still prefer and tend to revert back to, Evie) and the regular as clockwork updates. If Nokia live up to their promise to deliver the same then I may switch back (less about the nostalgia the name evokes, but based on their ability to deliver on their promise to rekindle customer loyalty by building and supporting good hardware).

I keep thinking a switch to the iPhone would solve my complaints with the Android ecosystem, but ... https://medium.com/@offbeatmammal/apple-are-a-design-company-so-why-is-ios-so-annoying-d40530dce8d9

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Microsoft bids adieu to inky fingers with whiteboard app

OffBeatMammal

I wonder some of these smarts - shape recognition etc - will make their way to OneNote? I have pretty terrible drawing skills so having something that can automagically improve the quality of my scribbles would be very handy (though an iPad would still be my preferred device!)

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iPhone 8 now outsells X, and every other phone

OffBeatMammal

While I like the iPhone/iPad hardware, I stick with Android (currently a Pixel2) because the limitations of the OS are enough to make me resent paying the Apple tax. If Apple were to address some of the issues then I might become an 8 customer, but the X seems like a crazy price to pay for not much extra

https://medium.com/@offbeatmammal/apple-are-a-design-company-so-why-is-ios-so-annoying-d40530dce8d9

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Meet the Frenchman masterminding a Google-free Android

OffBeatMammal
Big Brother

Amazon anyone?

while their Fire Phone was pretty much DOA, people forget that Amazon have a pretty solid, Google free fork of Android already. The Fire Phone, tablets and FireTV platforms are all ASOP based but largely replaced the GMS pieces with their own store and services (with APIs that over the years have got a lot closer to their Google equivalents).

the challenge will be getting OEMs and chipmakers to work on delivering/integrating with their BSP so the OS layer can be dropped onto devices (perhaps the work Google is doing with "P" to decouple the OS from the firmware where possible might help speed this up...)

now, not saying Amazon are a better path to tread than working with Google, but it would be interesting to see if these projects could play nice and get further together than bifurcating all over the place.

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Australia, Solomon Islands to ink Huawei-free cable contract today

OffBeatMammal

it's only cheaper because we're paying for it!

so a $100m subsidy, no doubt taxpayer funded, somehow makes this a great deal?

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nbn™ CEO didn't mean to offend gamers, just brand them unwelcome bandwidth-hogs

OffBeatMammal

so, first they tell us they don't need to deliver 100Mbps to the home because there's no demand, but not they tell us they're going to have to throttle and traffic shape users because they're too demanding.

for a future-proof network, they've don't a pretty crap job of even making it capable of replacing what we currently have

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You know what your problem is, Apple? Complacency

OffBeatMammal

M'eh

I used to look forward to Apple events to see them pushing innovation and keeping the race - both PC and phone - moving forward.

In recent years... I kinda don't care. Improvements are incremental and the hype-vs-value meter has swung so far it's not really going to make any change to my user experience.

macOS still works fine on my mid-2012 Macbook Air (which I switched back to after 3 attempts to get a Surface Pro3 that worked) and while I'd like a faster CPU/GPU, more RAM, a larger SSD and a better battery I'm not going to do that at the expense of a keyboard that dies if it gets any dust on it

iOS is an incredibly frustrating walled garden, and while I did get briefly excited to see CarPlay will now allow Google Maps/Waze to be used it looks like they're still not "brave" enough to open up the default handlers for mail://, maps://, etc to allow developers to actually compete on the experiences that make Android my go-to for a phone [ https://medium.com/@offbeatmammal/apple-are-a-design-company-so-why-is-ios-so-annoying-d40530dce8d9 ] ... and I'm not sure a red-headed emoji is enough to make me want to switch...

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Waiting for 100 Mbps NBN on wireless? Errr, umm, sorry about that

OffBeatMammal

Re: 4G hotspot ???

@Denarius, I'm with you on the cynical.

While I hated their customer service, since I've moved back to Melbourne I really miss Comcast (consistent 100/25 for less than I'm currently paying for 12/1 and lucky if I get reliable 5/1)

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OffBeatMammal

I'd settle for an unlimited 4G hotspot ... my Pixel2 on Telstra does a good job of consistently delivering my 35Mbps at home, where otherwise I can only get 12Mbps ADSL2+ (and no NBN until this time next year apparently). Sadly the cost for that right now is prohibitive (and while Optus do offer an unlimited wireless hotspot solution it's unclear if we'd be able to get the 3Mbps or 12Mbps coverage - you'd think they'd be able to tell given the address - so it's not much better than ADSL2+, and more expensive).

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'Facebook takes data from my phone – but I don't have an account!'

OffBeatMammal

in countries where you pay by the byte for data (@Telstra here in Australia, I'm looking at you) especially if the crap is pre-installed on a phone bought from the carrier who pays for that data? The user (was there disclosure?) or the carrier (have they zero-rated the IP/URLs this shit talks to)?

Pixel2 user (after a couple of Nexus devices) so not suffered from too many pre-installed apps (apart from the Google spyware and multitude of messaging apps) but it looks like Google may be in the spotlight for this already - https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/14/oracle_tells_tales_about_google_data_slurps_to_australian_regulator/

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Facebook Android app caught seeking 'superuser' clearance

OffBeatMammal

removing the FB app from my phone (a few years ago now - https://offbeatmammal.com/2014/01/14/why-i-uninstalled-facebook-and-your-app-might-be-next/) feels like a very smart decision now. Their permission (and data grab) has always been pretty egregious but coupled with their track record of bad behaviour means they (and Whatsapp etc) have no place on any of my devices unless I can block pretty much every permission request.

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Last night's net neutrality episode had some good one-liners but a repetitive plot

OffBeatMammal

American... the finest politicians money can buy... and plots with less integrity than a South American soap opera

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Telstra said its 7-incher was really an 11-incher, left customers frustrated, unsatisfied

OffBeatMammal

Re: BS restrictions from the content owners in the first place !!!

the AFL probably sold digital rights with a bunch of restrictions in place to avoid cannibalising the TV deals they'd already sold (presumably with that restriction already defined) so can't really blame Telstra for once

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nbn™ scoreboard: miracle needed to hit FY 18 construction targets

OffBeatMammal

I won't be connected this year!

they finally updated the NBN page for our street last week ... I only have to wait to March 2019 for "commencement" of the HFC rollout availability.

The big question I have is if, when it arrives, it'll actually deliver anything better than the ADSL2+ we currently have... and of course if it'll be any better than the 4G/LTE wireless service currently in our area (Vivid) or if some magical 5G service will be rolled out...

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Supreme Court punts on Microsoft email seizure decision after Cloud Act passes US Congress

OffBeatMammal

So Uncle Sams over-reach (and legal reach-around) continues to show what little respect they have for the rest of the world Team America basically claim it's their way or the highway and every other Sovereign State isn't worthy. Legislation and Rulings like this are not just going to hurt Microsoft, but any other US based company doing business in overseas jurisdictions and makes a mockery of Data Sovereignty laws. You know sure as shit that the US would scream blue murder if they were on the receiving end of something like this from a Chinese or Russian Corporation (well, actually given the current incumbent in the White House who knows...)

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Windows 10 to force you to use Edge, even if it isn't default browser

OffBeatMammal

Re: Fucking idiots

funnily enough people have no problem giving Apple a pass for doing exactly this same shit throughout iOS - you can't choose your mapping app, your browser, your mail app, your calendar etc. And because of this Microsoft starts to think it's okay to inch back to forcing users into using their second rate apps because Apple has got away with that behaviour for so long.

I use full-fat Outlook (because the Win10 inbox mail app is a half-arsed mess) and will be seriously grumpy if they start hijacking links there to point to Edge instead of my default Brave ... at the end of the day I don't care about what browser I actually use, but I want the one that keeps my history etc in sync and has a UI that doesn't suck... Edge ain't that.

So... yes it sucks MS are doing this, but if we're going to get outraged there let's make sure Apple also feel which way the wind blows

https://medium.com/@offbeatmammal/apple-are-a-design-company-so-why-is-ios-so-annoying-d40530dce8d9

(and no, this still won't usher in the era of desktop Linux. For all the great advances that have been made in the last few years it's still not the no-brain install that Windows is for the vast majority of users)

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Cyborg fined for riding train without valid ticket

OffBeatMammal

so, you can now pay for an Opal ticket using an Amex or an Opal card. I wonder if pulling the NFC chip out of there would have got the same offence?

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Airbus CIO: We dumped Microsoft Office not over cost but because Google G Suite looks sweet

OffBeatMammal

As someone who has experienced both, good luck with the GS roll-out. There are so many half-implemented things in GS that Office just gets right (especially around email, calendaring, and the GAL) that you end up having to use a mess of third party tools to try and plug into GSuite to emulate... badly.

And the actual Gmail clients (on web and mobile) are severely lacking when it comes to Corporate tye communication ... if you have a mail conversation threaded beyond a couple deep it just falls apart. I've ended up getting a personal Office365 subscription so I can get the full GSuite integration in Outlook and use Nine on iOS/Android

also, the majority of the article reads like a press release

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Transport for New South Wales told to stop tracking oldies, students

OffBeatMammal

I presume if I pay by credit card, or sign up on the Opal site and register my card (so I can cancel it if it gets lost/stolen) the same will apply and they won't try to de-anonymize me? Not that I really care, I only ever use it from the airport to the office and back again!

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Microsoft says 'majority' of Windows 10 use will be 'streamlined S mode'

OffBeatMammal

what would actually be great is if they focussed on cleaning up the mess than is Windows 10 in general. so many control panels it's impossible to know where to adjust things, so much redundant crap that adds no value (and I include Cortana in that), and performance that sucks... macOS still runs just fine on my 2012 MacBookAir, but even a signature edition Win10 install on a Surface Pro is laggy and unreliable.

the other thing that drives me crazy with Win10 even on their own hardware is that the control keys are essentially crippled because (ignoring the fact they're an inconsistent mess even within MS apps) they rely on keys that require modifiers to get to on the Surface Pro keyboard is even simple things become arcane tasks

I actually use an iPad and a bluetooth keyboard for a lot of things now, only really reach for the Mac when I am coding. The only remaining Windows machine I have is an Intel NUC running Windows for Plex and that's as locked down, services killed, automated and scripted so I never have to actually touch it as I can make it.

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Up to 25% of new builds still can't get superfast broadband – study

OffBeatMammal

Crickey mate

not sure at this point what's worse... OverRetch for the UK or the NoBroadbandNetwork here in Aus. Once politicians get involved in any project which requires a modicum of technical domain expertise all common sense goes out the window as the lobbyists and vested interests offer to "help out" with the "complexity" and the win/win they propose turns out to be lining their pockets and the ministers while we all pay for it...

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British clockwork radio boffin Trevor Baylis terminally winds down

OffBeatMammal

true national treasures

It's sad that the UK (and others) give more praise and adoration to ephemeral sportsmen and pop acts than folks like Mr Baylis who only get recognition in their obituary, long after it is of any help.

BTW in Australia where I now live there is a nationwide Mens Sheds initiative - http://www.mensheds.org.au/

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Australia's new insta-pay scheme has insta-lookup of any user's phone number

OffBeatMammal

so, is this only displaying details of people who have signed up for PayID and used their phone number as the key, or does this do a reverse look-up on any AU phone number?

makes me pretty sure I'll be using a unique email address for this, and not sharing my phone number as an identifier

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Developer recovered deleted data with his face – his Poker face

OffBeatMammal

wow. blast from the past. mid 90s I had the pleasure of using Clarion... a step up from COBOL, but less productive the qbasic!

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So... Nokia's taking a long, hard look at its health unit

OffBeatMammal

after trying various Fitbit and the ilk, I've settled on a Nokia Steel HR (actually, the earlier Withing branded model) and ... I love it. The fact it looks like a real watch, and the battery goes for about 20 days without shutting down is pretty amazing considering it also includes the whole array of heart rate, sleep etc monitoring.

while it's not a full 'smartwatch' I can do simple notifications on the in-built screen and that's usually enough to let me know if I actually want to pick up my phone.

I'd actually trust Nokia - provided they take their network engineering approach - to be the ones who could build out a persona EHR solution for long term tracking and consolidation (and securing) of my data ... as someone who has moved countries (in total four times!) that challenges of keeping the major records are a frustration, but even having changes from Fitbit to Withing has meant I don't have a good consistent record from my pedometer/HR monitor/scale etc .. that's why this industry will continue to churn without someone less obsessed with lock-in and annual replacement than Apple as the shining star

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Six things I learned from using the iPad Pro for Real Work™

OffBeatMammal

I try to use my iPad as primary device when traveling to avoid needing to take a laptop as well. While, for my use case, Office is okay, and I like a lot of the new split screen and other "pro" tweaks my biggest problem with iOS is that it's still very limited more because of philosophical decisions by Apple to create a locked down eco system (eg I can't set the default mail app to Nine, or switch the web URL handler from Safari to, say, Brave). Allowing OneDrive able to integrate into Files so I don't have to bounce around between different apps/workflows would also be a huge help.

Battery life, compared to my iPad Mini, is terrible. Using it for music as well (either Cloudbeats locally, or Spotify) while working kills it.

Totally agree on the Pencil experience ... I'd hoped that apps like OneNote would do a really good job of being a genuine pen+notepad replacement, but so far all of the options I've tried fall short in usability or capability

For the price tag on the iPad Pro, it's very disappointing and doesn't give it enough "bang" to be a real laptop replacement.... but if Apple could get their head out of their arse about controlling users then there is still hope ...

4
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nbn™ scoreboard: our new way to look at Australia's national broadband network

OffBeatMammal
Thumb Down

Even though I'm renting, I would buy a 100/40 connection in a heartbeat, in fact I'd probably pay a couple of grand to have them bring Fiber or even HFC to the house. The seriously crappy ADSL2+ experience is beyond frustrating... but... right now we're still pending surveys to tell us when our neighbourhood might get a plan. It's a joke

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nbn 's CVC discounts worked - ISPs splashed for 38 per cent more bandwidth

OffBeatMammal

having just moved back to Australia after some years in the US as a Comcast customer, I have to say I'm astounded that in the decade I've been away progress seems to be ... zero.

I'm currently living in an Airbnb in South Melbourne - some 15 minutes on a tram from the CBD and the best we can get is ADSL2+, and it's horrific (I presume either the copper from the DSLAM to the house, or the internal wiring, I've already helped the landlord replace one crappy socket!) ... but it's not filling me with confidence that when we move out 30 minutes to the East we'll be able to get anything better than pigeon post... the street we're moving to indicates that they won't even have information available on planned rollout for a coupe of months.

The fact that partisan politics and lobbyists can screw up something like this is a joke... the interesting thing is going to be if Optus or TPG swoop in with a 5G based solution and make all the expense of this rollout redundant (wasting yet more of the taxpayers money)

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$14bn tax hit, Surface Pro screens keep dying – but it's not all good news at Microsoft

OffBeatMammal

does the replacement trigger a new warranty period?

one thing I discovered after 3 replacements of my Surface Pro 3 was that the warranty period didn't get reset each time... because I was getting refurb machines they would only honor the original period as 'new', and the last replacement (just inside the original period) only got 90 days of coverage. It, of course, died on about day 120 and now I use a Macbook

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I'll torpedo Tor weirdos, US AG storms: Feds have 'already infiltrated' darknet drug souks

OffBeatMammal

The "war on drugs" isn't about making America "safer". It's always been about two things - since 1971 when Nixon used it as a way to criminalize the poor and those who he felt opposed him; protect the bottom line of the drug companies (who, as the article points out, are one of the biggest problems).

Having lived for some years in a State where Marijuana is legal (and which seems to get particular ire from the evil elf Sessions) and seen the good that de-stigmatized, legalized, licensed, revenue producing access brought to help people manage medical conditions ranging from chronic pain to depression and anxiety I live in hope that one day a rational discussion can be had by lawmakers. But while they are bought and sold and trade their beliefs to lobbyists I suspect it'll never happen

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Engineer named Jason told to re-write the calendar

OffBeatMammal
Coat

showing my age, but back in the mists of time there was a comic called Nova which featured the death of Ralph Rider (the costumed hero's uncle) at the hands of a villain called Jason Dean. Nova (working with Spiderman) realized the pages from the calendar next to the dead uncle, showing just July-December were a message from the dying man...

(why can I remember this, but not useful stuff?!)

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Intel to slap hardware lock on Management Engine code to thwart downgrade attacks

OffBeatMammal

Hope they include enough Fuses to store the version numbers for several firmware updates... OMG, Y2K for Intel chips as one too many firmware updates overflow the fuse-box!

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Lap-slabtop-mobes with Snapdragon Arm CPUs running Windows 10: We had a quick gander

OffBeatMammal

if there was an ARM native version of the Office suite then I could see some value in this (as long as it's as usable and reliable as my trusty MacBook Air) but if my primary apps are going to be running in emulation mode it'll be a slow, frustrating experience and I suspect would never reach the expected battery life.

telcos will find ways to screw with the experience to try and drag an extra buck out of users (and the device will probably support limited bands which will make hopping countries a pain, not to mention international roaming rip-offs from folks like Telstra that have me searching for wifi when I'm overseas)

It does solve part of the the problem with the previous Windows Phones and ARM based devices in that it can finally run real apps so they won't launch with just the dozen than Microsoft Evangelists could pay people to develop (and drop as soon as the cheques stopped coming)... but the performance is going to be the make or break of this especially if they want to complete with an iPad for the same money but the added cachet of having well optimized apps created for the form factor...

5
3

Belgian court says Skype must provide interception facilities

OffBeatMammal

I wonder if MS would have been in the same legal position - viewed as a Telco - if they'd left Skype as a P2P distributed system rather than centralizing control (and systematically ignoring their users to try and turn it into some Snapchat style social network)

3
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US judge orders Sci-Hub be excised from the internet

OffBeatMammal

authors should simply publish direct to Sci-Hub and let the parasite publishers die...

4
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Google's phone woes: The Pixel and the damage done

OffBeatMammal

the guy who maintained the list is being a bit disingenuous by conflating the problems with two different models (form two different manufacturers) into one list and lumping it under "Pixel" as opposed to splitting between Pixel2 (NFC producing a clicking noise) and Pixel2XL (Screen burn-in). I guess it makes for better headlines.

that said, I loved my Nexus 4. My Nexus 5X has been great, but recently started to misbehave (and I'd really recommend not updating to Android 8 on it, that was the end). The Pixel 2 seems like an okay compromise (no headphone jack, way too expensive, but the iPhone is still to crippled for me to jump ship - https://medium.com/@offbeatmammal/apple-are-a-design-company-so-why-is-ios-so-annoying-d40530dce8d9 ) ... just hoping they do fix the NFC issue and sound quality via software quickly, and that it manages to last at least as long as my Nexus 5X has... (that said, less than impressed so far as it's due to be delivered today along with the trade-in package for my Nexus 5X to go back in... but according to the courier it's still in Ontario!)

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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!

7
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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.

4
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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

5
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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)

0
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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...

3
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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.

11
2

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

4
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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

1
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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?

1
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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...

1
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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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