* Posts by DrXym

4369 posts • joined 18 Jul 2007

No one needs Blu-ray, says Microsoft exec

DrXym Silver badge

Liar liar

"We offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?"

Unless they are delivering 20-40Mbps then claiming instant blu ray quality is an utter lie. Even if they were delivering that, which I doubt, people would have to be subscribed to a FIOS with unlimited bandwidth to benefit. I would be surprised if their content was running higher than 10Mbps and probably its far less.

Perhaps the service is okay for video on demand or streaming but you'd have to be stupid to purchase anything from it to keep. Microsoft have already killed PlaysForSure key servers (thus locking purchased content to one device forever) so who's to say they won't do it again.

Dell Streaks on stage

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Android device revealed at an Oracle convention

I wonder if he did that just for the laffs.

CUDA daddy muses on future GPUs

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OpenCL is a platform neutral way of GPGPU programming. It's supported by a raft of industry players including AMD & NVidia (who were instrumental in developing it). Why are NVidia still pushing CUDA?

Google frees Gmail updates from Android

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Android has a clean, fast, stable email client which isn't tied to any email service. It's part of the core apps.

Blighty's carriers to field Windows Phone 7

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MS will get there in the end...

I think Microsoft could potentially innovate mobile gaming by introducing XBL to smart phones, but other than that I really don't see much their platform offers right now that would set it apart from its competitors. Maybe a few more iterations will give the platform time to mature and to implement some pretty important functionality it is missing right now.

Tthe problem is by the time they sort this crap out will it be too late? Aside from games, what exactly is the killer feature that sets Windows Phone 7 apart from its competition?

Piracy threats lawyer mocks 4chan DDoS attack

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Most competent ISPs?

DDOS attacks are very difficult to stop since if done in a sophisticated way there is no way to separate genuine traffic from the attack. You might be able to set up intrusion alarms that monitor for unusual activity, you might even be able to auto bounce / reroute the requests into a hole until the attack subsides. In theory it could be done automatically but in practice I expect it is requires a lot of sysadmin time & resources to monitor and control the situation, conference calls and so on.

A principled ISP might be prepared to take a lot of punishment for a controversial website or an innocent victim, but how many are prepared to take it for a bunch of litigious lawyers. At the end of the day these people have the money and if the attacks continued they should be footing some of the bill. If not, then they should find themselves another ISP.

Steve Jobs in iPhone bitchslap to creationists, Tea Party

DrXym Silver badge

Evolution is a fact too

Evolution is a theory supported by overwhelming evidence and it is also a fact.

Human beings can cause animals to evolve by selective breeding. Wild populations have also been observed to evolve, for example because of predation by introduced animals.

The evidence for evolution is compelling. The only question that remains of creationists is whether they are ignorant or willfully ignorant to disregard it when there is absolutely no evidence of any kind to support creationism. It is a non theory since it predicts nothing or accounts for anything. Claiming "god did it" is the ultimate cop out.

DrXym Silver badge

The situation in the US is pitiful

I can understand a movement which wants less government spending and / or taxation if its backed up by some rational arguments. But the Tea Party is anything but rational. A better name would be the Hate party since its members appear to run the spectrum from racists, xenophobes, homophobes, misogynists, zealots to common-or-garden bigots.

What is particularly alarming is the success they are enjoying at least in the Republican party. Scandals seem to be running about 1 per week at the moment and it's like their supporters don't even care. The latest features no less than Christine O'Donnell who espouses the usual religious phooey even though she was just shown on TV confessing to dabbling with witchcraft. Pure hypocrisy.

How Ellison could fight Google's Android - without lawyers

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Come off it Ian

It is true that Google worked around Java, but anyone who knows anything about J2ME can fully appreciate why.

J2ME is a shit environment that people are fed up with and it's expensive to licence. Modern phones & set top boxes have outgrown J2ME's limitations. I just came off a project that chose to use Skelmir (a clean room JVM) in a set top box because it cost half as much as J2ME to licence, and supplies virtually all of important features of J2SE 5.0. I expect if the project were started from scratch again we'd even have considered Android. What we would never have done is considered J2ME.

J2ME hasn't changed in the last 5 years - it implements a subset of Java 1.3 (no generics, no autoboxing, no NIO, no XML parser, no concurrency APIs etc.). It's barely adequate to develop a single application let alone an entire OS of apps all talking with each other. Oracle have basically neglected their child and are acting all shocked that people don't want to use it any more.

Of course Android & Dalvik aren't Java, but they're close enough. The fact that it isn't Java and never claimed to be is why Oracle must resort to patent violation litigation. If you look at the handful of patents Google has been accused of violating a good half are in the SDK, not Android. And all of the "violations" are pretty weak. I expect if it comes to anything Google will just file a countersuit with a list of Sun / Oracle's violations and the whole lot will be settled for a paltry sum and some token support for Oracle somewhere.

It's too bad Oracle don't recognize Android for the opportunity it is. JavaFX would be a natural fit for Android, and would allow people to develop rich apps that run on the desktop or on smart phones.

DrXym Silver badge

The problem with J2ME

JavaME is getting sidelined because development under Oracle / Sun's stewardship is moribund. J2ME APIs are arcane, a subset of J2SE and stuck in a world where phones are only capable of running 1 java application at a time with limited access to the rest of the phone.

Google just did with Android what devs wish Oracle / Sun had done with J2ME building an entire OS around a Java like runtime with a rich & powerful API. Instead of whining about it, Oracle should produce a viable alternative or at least contributing to the ecosystem in a meaningful way. For example I expect a port of JavaFX to Dalvik would be a popular and welcome addition.

Sony piques PS3 fans with PlayTV patch fee

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If you had an original XBox 360

Then you're probably lucky it still works. Most likely in addition to fees you would also have paid for a larger HDD or memory card with the ridiculous premiums both items command thanks to their proprietary mouldings.

DrXym Silver badge

Maybe they should have offered ad supported and pay versions

If the new update costs so much, perhaps they should have stuck ads in it and then offered users the choice to pay for a key to disable the ads. Either way Sony would gain some revenue, probably enough to justify continued support.

DrXym Silver badge

Cut off your nose to spite your face

Yeah you show Sony. Go switch to a console which charges for online services and slaps a large premium on peripherals like hard disks and headsets. That'll teach them!

Steve Jobs chops student hack down to size

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Responsible journalism?

You call her "lazy" for trying to contact the press relations department. I'd call her conducting due diligence. Crazy as it may sound, it is good form to contact the entity and request comment before hammering out a story. I wish more blogs & journos did it.

Anyway, at least now she can make lemonade from lemons. Steve Jobs basically and undeservedly told her to piss off. If you can't write a story about that then you don't deserve a passing grade.

ZoneAlarm slammed for scarewarey marketing

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Most AV software has become scareware

Buy a new PC from Dell or similar and the first thing you'll notice is the Norton 30 day trial crapware nagging you with scary notices about how your machine won't be protected unless you subscribe.

Screw that. Microsoft produce a perfectly serviceable AV product called Microsoft Security Essentials. It's free, it does it's job and most of the time it stays the hell out of the way. When combined with Windows Defender I really see no reason to pay Norton or some other vendor for AV or firewall software unless you are stuck on XP.

Firewall software is even more a waste of time these days. Most people will be behind a cable or ADSL modem firewall anyway and Windows Firewall provides a second line of defence. The chances are the default protection is more than adequate out of the box unless you want anal levels of control.

Swedish Pirate Party suffers embarrassing general election flop

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Their stupid name doesn't help

Reduced copyright & patent controls and greater use of open source software all have compelling arguments to support them. But those arguments fall on deaf ears when they're coming from something called the Pirate Party.

The name conjures up two things in people's minds - either a) something akin to the Monster Raving Loonies, but with pirates or b) a bunch of disgruntled losers who want something for nothing. If they want to be taken seriously, they need to rebrand themselves and convey a more professional & pragmatic attitude to their issues. Otherwise they are just going to fail in one election after another.

Jailbreaker alert: Apple TV runs iOS

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More likely reasons

The first Apple TV was underpowered, expensive, tied to a download service which few people could access in a timely fashion, and for a while you couldn't even buy content on the device - you had to buy it on a PC and transfer it to Apple TV. It was a complete mess.

Apple have rectified some of the issues and introduced others. The device is still underpowered (no 1080p video), but at least it's cheaper. Problem for Apple is they're no longer king of the dunghill. There are quite a few streaming devices and there are bound to be more coming. I'm sure eventually the device might offer apps and potentially IPTV or other services, but at the moment it's nothing to write home about.

Code for open-source Facebook littered with landmines

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Scalability isn't a function of the language

I could write a Java app which won't scale, or a C++ app, or a Ruby on Rails app. Scalability is a function of design not the language the design is implemented in.

DrXym Silver badge


"Bugs are to be expected, but there's no reason to have things like XSS flaws and bad user input validation, even in "pre-alpha" software. "

Yes there is. It's called limited time and resources. I expect the modus of these devs was to get basic functionality up to some level, throw it to the wolves and then work on the security and other issues identified thereafter. Ultimately the software will be stronger for it.

O2 shocks customers by slashing iPad data allowance

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2Gb for £15

God, that's tantamount to daylight robbery. Three give 10Gb for £15 on a 1 month rolling contract. Same price, similar T&C but 5 times the data.

Sony PlayStation Move

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Kinect is never going to be perfect

Kinect is trying to infer a wireframe representation of a person(s) from a 2D image and a depth sensor. It's going to be compute expensive to do and even then it is never going to be perfect or precise because it's trying to work off limited inputs. If someone puts their hands behind their backs, the software is going to have to guess. If someone moves too fast for the camera or a mote of dust passes over the camera lens, it's going to have to guess. etc. To counter this, they'll probably have to dampen the inputs, but that introduces lag. In the non-optimal conditions in the average home it's going to be laggy and probably still glitchy.

The live demos shown so far would bear that out - I was watching one on YouTube last night where there was literally a second's worth of lag between a girl jumping and her counterpart avatar in a rafting game. I realise that the software in demos might be preproduction quality but the thing is only 6 weeks from release so it hardly bodes well for the final product.

DrXym Silver badge

They'll be on PSN

Sony already announced you can download the demos online

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Go look how much Kinect costs

I can't say the Move is huge value but the price is in line with other controllers and the entry level is fairly low especially compared with the price of the Kinect device.

DrXym Silver badge

Future depends on support

My original PS3 packed in recently so I've ordered a Move & Slim bundle seeing as I had to buy a replacement anyway. I haven't received them yet but my thoughts are that some games will really benefit from the controls but most won't.

Just like the Wii motion control will work best when there is a 1:1 or obvious mapping between what you do with your controller and what happens in the game. So sword swing will work great if your in-game avatar copies your moves, but it will be balls if it maps onto some generic swipe hi / lo style action (like Red Steel). A game that tracks you in real time will be great, but a game that waits for you to proscribe some action before responding with be awful.

And games that rely on gestures such as drawing a wavy line or a circle or a squiggle to do some action should be cast into the pits of hell. Abstract gestures suck so badly.

I have to wonder how things will fair between Move & Kinect over christmas. I have no doubt which is the more practical and accurate system, but sometimes reality doesn't favour the best solution. Perhaps both will sink into relative obscurity once the initial fanfare passes.

Virgin Media set-top box modder gets 5 years

DrXym Silver badge


Not really. The way crypto works in DVB-CSA is a little tricky to explain but here goes:

a) The crypto in the STB (Irdeto, Nagravision, Videoguard etc) listens for entitlement control messages in the incoming transport stream. The content of these ECMs is unique & proprietary for each crypto scheme.

b) The proprietary crypto scheme cracks open the payload and extracts a descramble key. The descramble key is just a random 64 bit number.

c) The descramble key is plugged into the CSA algorithm to decrypt the video / audio content. The key is only good for a second or so and then another one is sent.

Steps b & c) are common to every DVB-CSA implementation and a) is unique. A cable company can transition from one form of crypto or run a couple side by side, sending ECMs for both kinds of boxes at the same time. A cracker might be able to compromise a) in one scheme but it would not necessarily help them crack the others unless the schemes were related in some way.

Theoretically two ECMs for different boxes do contain the same descramble key so if you know the key from one ECM it might help you crack the other, but I expect that every scheme ensures to salt (put random stuff in and around the key) to stop this. More modern STBs also do 2-way crypto (i.e. they need a cable modem) so it's not enough to just read what's on the wire.

I don't think it will be long before someone starts selling brute force devices that simply try every possible combination of descramble key until they find the right one. Then it won't matter what crypto is in the box because DVB-CSA will be completely broken. If that happens the shit will hit the fan since you'll be able to plug a CAM of any kind into bog standard satellite / cable receiver and watch ANYTHING.

I expect at that point that Sky et al will have to replace their older boxes. I imagine their more recent boxes may be capable of DVB-CSA2 & 3. I don't know much about either but I expect the keylength and crypto algorithm is a lot stronger to resist brute force attacks.

DrXym Silver badge

The answer to that

Is to do what Sky do. Put the decryption onto a card / cam and swap it from time to time based on perceived thread. The beauty of DVB-CSA is you can have multiple encryption schemes running at once, allowing a period of transition between the two scheme, or for boxes by different manufacturers to use different crypto schemes.

Virgin could even start decking out new customers with boxes which use a cable modem to talk with a centralized crypto server. It would make cracking virtually impossible short of someone being able to brute force the CSA payload. Once computers get fast enough to brute force the CSA encryption in realtime, then all bets are off until DVB-CSA2 turns up.

DrXym Silver badge

From a certain point of view

If their customers could get service for free, they'd no longer be customers. So in that sense they're protecting them by stamping on free hacks. They're protecting customer numbers in other words and have lower overheads that they don't have to pass onto to customers. Doesn't mean Virgin won't jack up their prices for other reasons, but supporting freeloaders is not one of them.

Girl, 3, buys iPad apps, using mum's credit card

DrXym Silver badge

My kid did that

I was sitting at work one day when a bunch of emails turned up from PSN thanking me for my purchases. WTF? A phone call later reveals my 4 year old son had decided to buy a bunch of games while he was playing on the PS3. He cost me €30 that day but I learnt my lesson and password protected the thing.

Steve Jobs carried 'ninja throwing stars' in hand luggage

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No big deal

I'm sure he could have snapped his fingers and a lackey would have instantly appeared to Fedex the throwing stars back to the US.

Coalition pledges free appeals for filesharers

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Crypto alone is not enough

Crypto prevents deep packet inspection by ISPs which is a Good Thing. However it doesn't prevent the fake P2P clients recording every incoming IP address and using that info to compile reports that eventually get sent to the ISP.

In order to have plausible deniability, it would be necessary for P2P clients to act as proxies to other clients with receiver and sender separated by 1 or more hops. The more hops and the more random the path between receiver & sender the better. Preferably the hops would cross several national jurisdictions as well. An IP sniffer would not be able to say with 100% confidence that a node is the recipient of the data (which is encrypted) or merely passing it on somewhere else.

If this were part of the protocol rather than an optional feature, then the entire population base would benefit from it. It's more or less how Tor and Freenet work. The problem is doing it right. Tor and Freenet are painfully slow because of the number of hops and I expect that any P2P implementation would suffer the same issue.

Craigslist to tell Congress why it cut adult ads

DrXym Silver badge

Why not just leave them there?

If people are stupid enough to advertise illegal and repugnant services on a medium that allows them to be tracked down and arrested then I don't see what the problem is. Let them do it. They'll certainly be caught, prosecuted and jailed a lot faster than if they offered those services in a more discrete way.

GoDaddy seeks $1bn buyer

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Adequate service but so annoying to use

GoDaddy takes the Ryanair approach to domains. It starts off advertising dirt cheap domains but makes it difficult to get those prices. By the time you've navigated a gauntlet of nickel & diming & upselling the cost is nothing like what you started with. They also love spamming customers with a constant barrage of promotions.

Once you fight your way through this crap, the service is reasonable enough. They have online tools for the usual things and service is fast. It's too bad they make customers feel so icky in the process.

Acer Stream Android smartphone

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Maybe they like multitasking or cut and paste?

Windows Phone 7 is bound to get better but it's widely known that the first release will be hobbled, (or more charitably) focused on certain consumer functionality. Things like cut & paste and multitasking are not implemented, which you'd think are pretty bloody important. Give it a few more iterations and it will probably give Android a run for its money. Whether that's enough to consider it right now is another matter.

Koran-burning 'pastor' loses website

DrXym Silver badge

@Just Thinking

It boils down to this. If this person publicly does what he claims he will do, people will die. That is the outcome, and the cause rests firmly with his entirely avoidable and completely offensive act.

Possibly it will be US soldiers who die, possibly some poor bastards who get caught up in the frenzied demonstrations that will inevitably follow, possibly some Muslims in the crosshairs of the police, possibly some time later when some radical uses it to justify blowing themselves up.

This "pastor" is a moron. I think he should be allowed to burn the Koran if he wishes. I believe he flown to the main square in Tehran where he will be promptly stoned to death by the angry mob. Then we can get this shit over with until the next loon decides to exercise his free speech in the most offensive way possible.

DrXym Silver badge

Every religious book is the same

Fundamentalist idiots are fundamentalist idiots. It doesn't matter what magic sky pixie demented worldview they've bought into, they're as stupid as each other.

I propose flying every fundamentalist and dumping them all on a small island. There they can brutally kill each other in their insane never ending holy war and leave everyone else alone. Whichever faith comes out victorious shall receive a small Tesco Value plastic trophy for their troubles.

DrXym Silver badge

The problem as I see it

Is that this insane, insignificant, god botherer has managed with little effort to cause a massive international storm of controversy. In a rational world, people would just ignore the loony (and the many Christians / Jews / Muslims just like him). Sadly, it's not a rational world and people will die because of this idiot.

DrXym Silver badge

Yeah but look at the way she said it

To wit - "Book burning is antithetical to American ideals. People have a constitutional right to burn a Koran if they want to, but doing so is insensitive and an unnecessary provocation – much like building a mosque at Ground Zero."

The "mosque at Ground Zero" is a day centre two blocks away that she and her followers turned into an issue, nobody else. She might not be quite as demented as this pastor but she is definitely of the same persuasion.

Brits unleash world's hottest chilli pepper

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50p goes to

The first person to rub their privates with this sauce and post the aftermath video up on YouTube.

Samsung scents strong Android tablet sales

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Apad is a bit cheap and nasty though

I like the Apad at one level because it demonstrates what a ripoff the iPad is. Here is a fully functional Android tablet on sale than $100. Wholesalers can get them for $80 which is frankly an incredible bargain.

On the flip side, there is nothing to write home about the device. What it says to me though is that Samsung, Acer et al could easily produce extremely functional tablets in the $200-350 range and make a lot of money. I think if they jack their prices too high they're going to fail.

Firefox 4 beta gets hard on Windows

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Firefox already has an abstraction layer called Cairo. It has a rich API and numerous backends, many of which are hardware accelerated. I assume Firefox have just flipped whatever switches are necessary to make Cairo use DirectX if its available.

As for SDL, it really doesn't do a huge amount in the graphics department except set up the screen / surface for you and provide some low level primitives. You are meant to use it in conjunction with DirectX or OpenGL.

DrXym Silver badge

HSTS sounds interesting

The only fly in the ointment I can see is that if you were subject to a man in the middle attack, the attacker could as easily strip out the strict transport header. Without the header, STS is not enabled and so things continue the way they are.

It's a lot better than nothing though. I wonder however if sites which can't even be bothered to fix expired certs, or who mix encrypted & unencrypted content are going to bother with STS.

DrXym Silver badge


Of course there are things analogous to Direct2D in other operating systems. Every platform has a native drawing API. Firefox uses whatever is most suitable and available. In the case of Windows, that would be DirectX or GDI. On OS X it might be QuickDraw or Quartz. On Linux it might be OpenGL or X11.

Firefox uses Cairo to abstract all these differences so the bulk of the code just calls a Cairo API.and the command is translated into the relevant backend instructions. Cairo can also be used to print to PDF / Postscript which makes it useful for printing too.

Microsoft certainly do change DirectX from time to time but they do so in an incremental fashion. They add new interfaces to support new functionality, not change the existing ones. Therefore, there is no reason to think that Firefox will suddenly break from using it, any more than some random game that happens to use DirectX 9 when version 10 or 11 turn up.

Sony updates PS3 system software

DrXym Silver badge

Great idea but

I don't think anyone would object if the PS3 allowed games to be backed up (with suitable encryption & disc verification). It works well on the 360 and would be a welcome addition. The size of some games might be an issue but it would beat not having the feature at all.

However. Realistically the vast majority of people mod do so only to play pirate games. Backups and homebrew are just horseshit excuses to hide behind. It would certainly remove the excuse if Sony did implement backups in official firmware but it's not the main reason by a long shot that people mod.

DrXym Silver badge

Over course they're going to big lengths

"They're going to big lengths to protect people from playing pirated games or ripping their own to the HDD."

Well duh. They have a reputation and profits to maintain. They have to stop people playing pirate games to ensure they make money, that their reputation with 3rd parties stays intact and to stop a modded assholes cheating and ruining the experience for legitimate customers on PSN.

"Overkill of Sony once again treating all of their customers as criminals"

No they're not. They're treating the modders as criminals. The firmware update shouldn't make the slightest difference to actual paying customers.

DrXym Silver badge

Wouldn't matter

Sony could change keys or protocols so that unauthorised firmwares couldn't connect to PSN. They could even put in surreptitious checks so that even if someone was stupid enough to connect while running modded firmware that the fact would be noted and used to permaban the machine & id forever.

Dell Streak causes user fury

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How is this the fault of Google?

It's up to Dell to adequately build, test and deploy the upgrade. Given this is an update to 2.1 (the current latest being 2.2), it seems they should have plenty of time to make it work properly.

If the update has been screwed up or apps are missing it has nothing to do with Google.

Air mouse targets TV - Apple to follow?

DrXym Silver badge


Exactly. Gestures are vague forgettable things. If they MUST be implemented then they have to correspond to some action in real life. e.g. if the game wants me to throw a handgrenade then some kind of pull pin out and toss gesture might work. But twirling spirals, loops, stars etc. is just stupid interface design.

Save the motion control for exactly that - motion control. I hope Sony learns that with their Wii-like motion control. At least the wand has plenty of buttons which is a good sign but I suspect Move enabled versions of games like Heavy Rain will cross the line.

Lack of buttons is why I think Microsoft's Kinect will (to use the scientific term) suck balls. There are no buttons so anything a game or the dash needs the player to do which doesn't relate to a physical action is going to be a huge pain. Either the game will use gestures, or it will use voice control, or it will have to super impose a video of the player to help them "reach" for on screen buttons or similar. It has the potential to be a disaster.

DrXym Silver badge

Some phones could be universal remotes

If a phone has an IR transmitter on the top, it could be a replacement remote. Leave the original in the house but use the other one as you see fit.

The problem for me is that even if a phone did have an IR (and many don't now), is they're simply not designed to be used as a remote. For example, on my phone I would have to push the power button which is on the top and designed to be low profile so as not to be set off by accident, swipe the screen to take the screen lock off, potentially launch an IR app, and eventually get at soft keys which represent TV / DVD / Sat actions. Chances are half the time if I'm at home that the phone is charging anyway and not in front of me anyway.

Meanwhile someone else just pushed a button on a regular $2 packin remote and it did exactly what it was meant to do. I do wish devices adopted a single, universal, bi-directional standard for pairing TVs & other household appliances with control centers or phones though. IR is so crap compared to what could be done with bluetooth or similar.

DrXym Silver badge

Abstract gestures suck so badly

I have yet to see any game, or any system which uses abstract gestures in a way which doesn't suck. The problem is abstract gestures don't mean anything to anyone. People don't know what shape they're meant to do, or forget the gesture, or don't perform it with enough precision, or the system keeps firing false positives when somebody just picked up the remote or handed it to someone. All of these things are hugely more frustrating than if there were just a button or two for the task.

Wii games work best when you have 1:1 mapping between your action and what happens in a game (e.g. a bowling motion makes your in-game character bowl). When a game starts asking people to proscribe loops, or draw squares or some abstract shape and map it onto something else things fall apart very rapidly.

Samsung: demand for Windows Phone 7 'specialised'

DrXym Silver badge

Windows 7 could have an ace up its sleeve

Windows 7 Mobile is lamentably late and what's shipping is crippled by time constraints. Thus you can't even cut & paste in version 1. Or multitask. These limitations are as lame in Windows 7 Mobile as they were in the iPhone. Microsoft's decision to gut the UI also means that it lacks many of the features that would sell it to businesses, and probably some that would sell it to consumers are going to have to wait for future iterations.

Where Windows 7 could succeed is if they play to their strengths. I think it has the potential to be the best mobile gaming platform for phones for example. Certainly much better than Android and probably better than the iPhone too. This isn't because the phone hardware is better, but by supplying high quality SDKs for development with integrated XBL support.

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