* Posts by Walt French

59 publicly visible posts • joined 1 Oct 2007


Apple finally publishes El Capitan Darwin source

Walt French

“Finally,” WTF?

It's been an agonizing 70 days since El Cap was released to the public, during which time everybody has been worried that Apple would renege on its open source commitments.

What do people actually DO with Darwin, anyway? Who prefers Apple's flavor of Unix for anything other than academic investigation? Were people dying to incorporate the recent changes in networking, not relying on other approaches?

Apple: We'll tailor Swift to be a fast new programming language

Walt French

Re: I find it doubtful that you can copyright a programming language's syntax

Oracle's case against Google was always based on the organization and implementation of the libraries, not the java language itself.

Might be a fine point for a programmer who doesn't care about what is in “the language” and what is in the libraries that make the language useful, but it's key for any organization big enough to actually consider implementing it.

Walt French

Cross-Platform Looks About as Easy as it Ever Gets

It's definitely not worth MY time to write a Swift compiler, but LLVM is distributed under a very permissive license, and as others note, copyrighting a language seems just a tad unlikely.

Seems that any firm with interest in having Swift on its platform (or, any firm wanting to add a Swift compiler to its existing stock of tools) should have relatively little difficulty. For instance, Google already uses the LLVM framework for much of its work; if they deemed the language to offer actual performance advantages over other languages, or if they wanted to facilitate cross-platform products, why wouldn't they?

Seems interest is the key issue. NIH is strong in this world.

Pegatron named as Microsoft Surface fondleslab foundry

Walt French

What's The Objective for Surface?

I've used a large, high-powered laptop for years. Lots of hard disk, fast CPU, big, detailed (and gorgeous) screen. I run major math problems in Mathematica, edit video (occasionally), manage a couple of big databases, and write programs. (In addition to all the ordinary browsing & email I do.) So I wouldn't try to squeeze my work onto a tablet.

But my wife's needs are different: she loves having 8½×11 PDFs on her iPad when she goes to Board meetings. Writes Chinese on it as part of her study. Pops it out of its home in the kitchen table drawer when we feel like Skypeing after dinner. Finds it easy to catch up on friends' photos or videos, or play a round or two of a game with friends before going to sleep. Every one of these tasks works better on a tablet (withOUT an extra keyboard in the way) than ANY other device. And does just fine on the modest CPU Apple supplies.

People here seem pretty desperate to shoehorn the wrong jobs onto iPads, so I guess they'll do the same with the Surface. And they might be MORE disappointed in lack of good apps (that fabulous Chinese dictionary/OCR/flashcard in her case), or other apps that go viral too quickly for Microsoft to supply the financial incentive to developers. Also realistically, Microsoft has made the story VERY difficult with the long-battery-life, less expensive version unable to run any legacy Windows apps.

As with any device, the question becomes: what job(mix of jobs) do *I* need to do, that this device will do better than any other device? I can see it working for some mobile corporate types, who need a “different and innovative” sexy device for their client work; for everybody else, I don't get why an iPad or a Windows UltraBook wouldn't work BETTER.

Apple drops 'thermonuclear' patent bombshell

Walt French

Re: Well, Huey Lewis is stuffed.

Way to totally miss the spirit of the post, by spewing retreaded, same old blather in a pompous, self-important, preachy, superior tone. Oh, at least you included some totally made-up, likely false facts; too bad they ALSO were condescending at best, the very opposite of funny.

Is Apple nobbling iPhones to avoid more patent misery?

Walt French

Pretty Terrible, Indeed!

Sure sounds awful to me that Apple might have held back on distributing software that they didn't own rights to give away. They should be able to take ANY functionality that Google, or anybody else develops, and capture all the revenues from the extra sales they'd enjoy.

And why stop there? Laptop and desktop manufacturers should bundle Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office and another few dozen widely popular games, too. Who gives a rat's ass whether software people get compensated for their work? It's all about the user getting “thousands of dollars” of software for the price of a $500 laptop.

For that matter, why don't firms go out and create TheRegister.Com, hijacking all the Register's content, but inserting their own ads? Who would mourn the Register's loss of their copyright? I take it that this article is essentially greenlighting people to do exactly that — duplicate all of the Register's material, copyrighted or not.

This will make for a much better world, indeed! Anarchists of the world, unite!

Apple sues NYC mom & pop shops

Walt French

Too Bad the Register Tricked You!

You run the risk every time you pay too much attention to the Register's innuendo, when the actual facts that they DON'T report tell you otherwise.

Lots of people legitimately use the word "Apple" in their names, none more obviously than the Beatles' old outfit. (And Apple paid them perhaps many millions for the right to sell "Apple" musical equipment.)

These shops were selling junk gear with the exact Apple, Inc, logo. Shiny, with a bite out of it.

Your supposition is equivalent to saying that no other newspaper in the world could call itself "The Register," e.g., The Cleveland Register, because this website has registered the name.

While the snide implications in the article are that every "mom & pop" website should be able to rip off the name, logo and create counterfeit "Register.Com" or "Register.Com.UK" type URLs, and this publication wouldn't give a rat's ass.

Walt French

Naw, they were counterfeiters. Plain & Simple

Not that the Register has the boots on the ground resources, but the local NYC press was happy to deliver pics of cheapo cases with the Apple logo. Apparently identical to the registered trademark that Apple has used for some 35+ years, in its current shiny chrome incarnation. I don't suppose the “defendants” will attempt to justify their actions in any way.

Perhaps the Register legal counsel would explain why this article is not an invitation to another web site to copy The Register ® name and logo without so much as a whimper. Because this seemingly claims the little ® is simply irrelevant to how people should do business these days. Some mom & pop people deserve to overrun the Big Bad Register 'cuz that's what Democracy is all about, eh?

Unlike Google, which has its Chief Counsel whine to the press when it runs afoul of the legal system, Apple lets the courts enforce existing laws. Whether it wins or loses cases, it doesn't end-run the legal system by trying to sway public opinion. Apple's practice is thereby more like the actual legal requirements in the UK, giving people who rip off its IP every benefit of the doubt.

How perfectly Cupertinian.

Walt French

Good Memory… In Part

Yes, Apple (then, Computer) Inc. and Apple Music had a long-running standoff.

But it ended with what was reported to be a substantial settlement by Apple Computer. Both parties apparently found it agreeable — they worked it out without outside interference — and that is that!

Next iPhone to sport thinner, lighter casing, says paper

Walt French

A chicken's fart comment?

And yet, you chose to go to the page and post your less-than-a-chicken's-fart reply. Verrrry interesting, as your analyst might say.

The Register hasn't added much value to this story, at least yet. My impression is that the WSJ (for which I shell out a fair amount of money each year) actually has a damn-near-perfect record as far as its Apple prognostications go. Maybe The Register could differentiate the quality mainstream British press from the Niebelungs toiling for Mr Murdoch by assessing that track record, maybe differentiating it from how <i>News of the World</I> gets its material.

How about it? Got cojones?

Apple dealers hit with Lion bar

Walt French

I Used to work for a shop like that…

that thought it was somehow smarter to run a PO thru a bunch of hands and get signoff up and down the line.

A couple hours of paper pushing for a crummy $29 item. Not exactly what you call “best practices.”

The company is no longer in business.

Walt French

Why Do People Want To Give Away Their Money???

To retailers, whose knowledge extends to “I think you can find the Apple stuff on the bottom rack over there.”

We have a little saying: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” If the retailers were helping users with installation, or advertising the new features so shoppers could decide whether they wanted to bother, or providing much of ANY marketing services at all, you could make an argument for pricing the disks an extra $50 higher to cover their efforts and a fair profit.

They used to do that. But it's been a long time since *I* have seen much of any reason to pay extra to somebody who can't find the power switch on a demo machine.

I weep for this the same way that I weep for the days when people had whips to make the horses trot faster.

iOS 5 closes Apple's infamous homescreen webapp gap

Walt French

What? Do You Have Something Better To Do…

… than run SunSpider benchmarks all day long?

Can you not imagine how many precious <b>whole milliseconds</b> the Register's devoted iPhone lovers have lost due to Apple's inaction?

After all, lots of iOS users have trouble finding first-class apps to do things and depend on webpage fake-apps, unlike Windows, WebOS, BlackBerry, Playbook and Android users who ALL have huge native app libraries that run compiled code.

Yet again, the Register has found a crucial distinction between Apple's support for customers and all the other smartphone vendors'. You ought to admire their writers' keen sense of priorities!

Apple iMac 27in

Walt French

Your choice

We went to an Apple store to get my wife an iMac.

I wanted to spec it up to the 27" screen & faster CPU, to give it a bit of headroom against unspecified future needs. The Apple store person asked her what she wanted to do (email, browsing, photo edits, music library), and proposed the low end of the line.

That was 3 years ago, IIRC. I doubt they would've stopped us from spending too much if we insisted, but it's not like they're sinisterly trying to drain our wallets.

BTW, we have since blown another $50 or so to add RAM; that's about as much upgrading as is likely for such a well-integrated box. A hard disk failure in the warrantee period is a no-cost non-issue, and out of warrantee a relatively minor expense. Whereas the integrated temperature sensor is an advance in protecting the drives from failing in the first place.

Microsoft+HTML: The antidote to iOS and Android

Walt French

Just one of many non-sequiturs

My favorite was that app developers were looking to extend their brands thru mobile apps (not wanting revenues but more usage from each relationship), but they are frustrated that they cannot rise to the top in the crowded app stores, on which they depend for marketing.

They got brands or ain't they?

Or maybe it was that Apple leads the pack in developers' access to current users and revenues, but Android is better because developers want access besides revenues (of which, most developers don't get enough to cover the cost of pizza for the late-night coding sessions).

And WP7 is in developers' hearts despite not having either of the #1 or #2 priorities.

My guess is that developers never say never, and there is a LOT of MS-aware talent. But you'd have to be pretty masochistic to put much work into porting your app to a platform that shows no signs of getting to 5% market share anytime soon. You can do a lot better by accelerating that bugfix release that another commenter called for.

Apple iCloud: Same old cage, new height

Walt French

Random, Ignorant or Intentionally Misleading???

So transparently, blatantly false that one has to wonder what rock this sock puppet crawled out from under.

Walt French

End of “PIRACY!!!”

Just as we've pretty much immunized ourselves against viruses by upgrading from XP, installing AV and shifting to more reliable platforms, I celebrate this announcement as the beginning of the end of the industry's BS attacks against “Piracy!!!”

Apple provides a small share of its fee to the copyright holders, who implicitly acknowledge that they are getting INCREMENTAL revenues as part of consumers listening to their music, whether legally licensed or otherwise obtained. And it's not small potatoes: if half of the 225 million iTunes accounts sign up for iMatch, the rumored 30% share to the publishers is a billion dollars per year.

Forcing Apple to reveal watermarks, or otherwise using Apple to rat on its users, is not possible under US laws unless it's somehow a national security issue. The risk that US laws will be re-written to favor some bad player is totally <i>de minimis</i>.

Meanwhile, users have less incentive to upload their music onto open servers where others can download it, making “file sharing” less appealing. Unless you're selling torrent or filesharing services, this is a good week.

Walt French

Worse than nonsense: sponsored disinformation

The Register continues its habit of swallowing anti-Apple jizz and then regurgitating it for all to see. I guess there's a certain clientele for that form of pornography but sheesh!

What you call “utter nonsense” — such as the claim that “you are screwed” by iCloud if you own an Android device — is actually a competitor's whining about being cut out of the loop by Apple-provided services.

The claim is transparently false: if I sign up for iCloud (and why would I not?), I will have EXACTLY the same ability to transfer music from my iTunes library to any non-Apple gizmo, as I have today: plug a USB memory stick or device with a USB port into my desktop, copy some files and I'm done. Oops, actually MORE ability, as I can get non-DRMed, higher-bitrate files out of the iCloud. The only person being screwed is the company selling cloud services that are MUCH LESS flexible and convenient than Apple's. I personally wouldn't want to do business with firms that make such misleading and backward claims.

In contrast, I don't see this as a negative at all for a service like DropBox: it's still a great way to share your documents between different users, across the whole range of devices that talk to the internet. They may lose a handful of users who only want to share across their own iGizmos, but will benefit if more and more devices with documents, photos, etc. want to share with friends or workmates. I'll be surprised to hear them bash iCloud at all; it oughta be a big win for them.

RIM PlayBook strikes back at Jobsian internet dream

Walt French

Why Playbook has NO NATIVE APPS from 3rd parties, JUST JUNK GAMES

I double-checked the BlackBerry Playbook developers' page just now:

- There is NO information about the Native Development Toolkit. None.

- There is NO information about porting Android apps to PlayBook. None.

- There IS info about developing using web specs (HTML) and Flash/AIR.

Enterprise developers essentially NEVER write apps in Flash/AIR, although they may use it in data display, etc. on their web pages. Some apps can be written in HTML; it's about the same as if you were on a website but you wouldn't want to do complex database searches, incorporate photos, or fine-tuned interaction/response.

RIM has apparently worked with a few devs, e.g., FaceBook, to write native apps on the PlayBook but unless you have privileged access, “sorry” is the best response you can get.

Third-party apps are mostly web games ported from Flash to Flash. At least they're easy. The quality, speed and capabilities are all limited.

RIM has big plans for PlayBook apps, but they are NOT working with 3rd parties or in-house developers to build “real” apps of the sort that Android and Apple users take for granted. So this is a non-starter for the Enterprise, and a non-starter for consumers.

RIM seems to have an honest, hard-working and smart Developer Relations guy but he's hobbled by working for co-CEOs who dismiss apps as "tonnage" and utterly fail to appreciate how valuable developers are to RIM's business. Apple had to learn this the hard way (developers were stunned back in 2007 when Jobs said no tools), but learn they did.

Until native and/or Android toolkits are available to developers, there will be thousands of junk games, but zero expense tracking/reporting systems that Enterprise types (myself) depend on. Zero video editors to allow putting your kids' birthdays on FaceBook. Zero third-party mapping, or any other consumer or business apps. Just junk games.

Nobody needs the hundreds of Fart apps that run on iPads. (I've counted them.) But nobody can work on a platform that has zero true productivity and consumer apps in virtually ALL the major categories.

Walt French

Schizoid Machine?

If I read this right, the PlayBook is just great if your desire is for a web portal limited mostly by its 7" screen size. Bit of an issue for the NYT, for example, but doable.

But if you like to watch movies on airplanes, there's no content and insufficient battery life; if you read on the train, your vendor doesn't even list the #1 best selling fiction in its Best Seller list. You likewise have me-too, feature-stripped versions of music, no TV, photo library/editing, etc. I'll be generous and give it a bit above zero on the consumer feature score.

Worse, if you're a corporate type (as am I), there are only a few, RIM-supplied productivity apps; missing are the expense reporting tool I rely on, the note-taker, the drop-boxes, etc. And there are no practical tools for my IT department to build custom apps or briefing books or standards manuals, unless you just dump them into a PDF.

In other words, a 90% on the web, a 15% on consumer apps (guaranteeing no "BYO" devices in the enterprise), and a 10% on supplied corporate tools (more sometime soon) and a pure zero for custom Enterprise functions.

Sure can't figure out why a quarter million people wanted that mix of features.

Google Wallet teams with Citi, MasterCard

Walt French

Think of the (Google) Children!

This will benefit merchants who can tie (Google) adverts to (Google) purchases. It'll allow other (Google) advertisers to know your purchasing habits, so to try to entice you to competitive or complementary shops with better (Google) ads the next time you go online or play a game.

Remember Google is an ad agency and derives more than 100% of its profits by selling your eyeballs and potential purchases, to businesses. Whatever it takes to capture your attention.

YOU are their product, my bewildered friend, not their customer.

Apple admits scareware problem, at last

Walt French

Sue the bastards

What?!? It's possible for users to install software on Macs?!?

Who knew? Why didn't I get high-priority warning emails from Apple?

Obviously, the company is responsible for any junk that users put on their machines, if they let users install a single app.

Obviously totally irresponsible of them to allow users to put programs on their computers, and to connect to the internet with them. Sue the bastards!

Right, Register?

Motorola Xoom

Walt French

A “Hardware” Review that focuses selectively on software

Of course it's senseless to talk about hardware without discussing the software, which is why it is odd to review this without even touching on...

Movies. It's great for plugging into your TV, cables dangling. But where would one get the HD video that is so great about the tablet? And if one is flying, say on a four-hour flight, how would one (legally, reliably) download a video onto it for watching while not streaming from the web?

Video editing: you mentioned capturing video and then streaming it to the TV after edits. How good is that editing? Would you actually attempt more than simple clips with it? The YouTube vid I watched of using that editor made it look like the buggiest POS imaginable.

Browsing. A huge selling point for the Xoom was Flash. And yet, if I understand correctly, there is today, months after the feature was announced, only a beta version of Flash on it, playing many videos badly or not at all. WTF? Why buy a tablet to run Flash that won't run Flash? Maybe in a few weeks Adobe will figure out the powerful Tegra2 chip inside, but as of today, there is an advertised feature that does not work, dependent on a third party that owes you nothing if it fails to get it right by two years from now.

Other apps. Most people are NOT buying tablets just to have a skinnier netbook; they want device-attuned apps for dictionaries, book-reading, photo editing, etc., etc. What's the line-up of these? How have developers responded when Jobs said he was being charitable in counting 100 apps suitable for an Android tablet?

"Inquiring Minds Want to Know!"

No, iPhone location tracking isn't harmless and here's why

Walt French

Did the Headline Writer read the story?

Headline says “it's not harmless and here's why;” the story says if Apple would only speak up there'd be no problem.

The only logical conclusion is that Apple's silence is what outrages the Register. What sense does that make?

And if indeed you don't like the idea of this data getting out— I don't — the Register has grossly neglected the trivial steps to prevent it:

1. Take Apple's advice on password-protecting your phone.

2. Take Apple's advice on how to encrypt your iPhone backup files on your PC.

3. Realize that there are probably a dozen OTHER files — recent phone calls, address books, web cookies, more — that are MORE sensitive than your location history. Keep your phone out of the hands of people you don't trust and encrypt or erase.

Of course, the Register has never been much for proactive how-to stuff; mostly it's a place to take cheap shots at others' work. “Whoring Link-bait,” as it's sometimes known. So the logical inconsistency in fact makes sense: the Register doesn't need you to know anything, as long as they can get you worked up.

Memo to iPad mimics: No one wants a $799 knockoff

Walt French

The Times They Are A'Changin'

“Your average MCSE has no idea how to administer OS X…”

Whoever they are. Your average MSCE has no clue how to administer WebOS; Android versions 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 or 3.0; or QNX (which they have never seen and for which there is not even a native dev kit).

Probably clueless about the Windows 8 Tablets, as well.

My organization's IT is also exceptionally closed to new technology. But the iPad and iPhone are coming in from both the top — CEO's who wonder why their competition has all the sexy customer-facing apps and the competition's marketing people all have slick-as-snot info-sharing devices — and from the bottom, employees who happily bring functional hardware in their pocket when making service calls, going into meetings, etc. In these days of high demand for productivity and zero budget for costly, one-trick-pony mobile workstations, Times will change.

Walt French

Follow this much?

“Apple can sell for the price they do as they know they will make a fortune from itunes apps music etc.”

You really don't follow this business much, do you?

Apple makes a fortune from its iTunes stores for exactly one reason: it helps them move more gear. Customers know that they can watch actual TV programs (unlike the Google TV fiasco), so they get an AppleTV or iPad. That they can get almost any music they want (unlike Microsoft's PlaysForSure disaster) and play it as long as they like on their iPod. That they can get the same Chinese dictionary as their friend has on her iPhone, so they buy an iPad.

The store revenues are indeed big bucks but they pale in comparison to the profit margins on the hardware. If Apple reduced its 30% or whatever share to 10%, their company profits wouldn't notice it and stock price would drop only if it suggested a competitor was halfway close.

Walt French

All About Margin?

“Apple is all about margin, which means maintaining a healthy price premium for its products.”

Pardon me, but did some gremlin introduce a sentence that entirely contradicts the rest of the article? And ignores the fact that lower-priced tablets announced to date are fugly hodgepodges of chips and crapware?

There was an interesting comment in 2004 in Newsweek, criticizing Apple's pricing policies that went for “obscene” profits instead of going for market share. Speaking to Dan Lyons was… Steve Jobs.

Apple may have forgotten the idea — it was a shot at marketing types, leaping from Mr. Sculley to one Mr. Ballmer, after all — but the apparent reason why Apple's prices are so high is simply that they have no incentive to reduce the price until they can make more of them.

Once they can quintuple capacity, their profits would probably maximize at something like 2/3 of today's equivalent pricing. There will be other tablets and phones, but as costs are unbundled from the carriers and can be compared, Apple's huge volumes are going to make it hard to produce a similar quality ecosystem.

Adobe Flash: 20m phones flip Steve Jobs the bird

Walt French

Ooooh! Soon (?) to run on a majority of devices!

“Adobe expects that by the end of 2011, Flash Player will be supported by 132 million devices, including tablets.”

Well, that'll be a majority if the Wall Street Journal has its facts dead wrong about Apple introducing several new mobile devices, including a low-cost, high-volume new phone. *AND* if the Motorola Xoom goes on sale for a few hundred dollars less than the leaks/rumors we're seeing.

Is there a single Register reader who does NOT expect Apple to intro an upgraded iPad in 2011, one that'll have all the current apps, IT friendliness, ecosystem, and customer appeal of last year's breakthrough device, and then some?

Many will express a wait-and-see attitude about new phones, but the WSJ doesn't print stuff that they have to retract; they have the goods, whether direct from Apple or otherwise.

So unless Adobe has come to Apple with a kick-butt Flash engine for iOS— one that works a lot better than the reviews we read about the balky Android experiences— there are going to be a LOT more non-Flash devices that delight their users just fine, and a LOT fewer Flash tablets & phones than Adobe is optimistically projecting.

Meanwhile, I see that Jobs has continued to keep Flash from running on any of the current BlackBerrys. That he managed to slow down WebOS from running Flash on any currently-available device (and he made sure that the recent announcements were about a BETA, not production-quality version of Flash). That he's kept Flash off all the Nokia phones, not to mention all the generations of Windows phones.

The majority of non-Apple mobile devices today can't run Flash, including a fair number of recommended Androids, and most of those will never get any upgrade that lets them run it.All the commenters who talk about Jobs being the über-Nazi of non-choice must give him credit for these other platforms' shortcomings.

(OK, enough with the hyperbole: If you bought a device yesterday that doesn't run Flash, you can figure that you'll have to scrap it to get Flash. Thank Adobe for its tardiness.)

But back to reality. Today, 20 million flash users is a drop in the mobile ocean. The huge majority of mobile users can't see those stupid intro pages that keep you out of restaurants' websites. Can't enjoy the blinky ads some sites are so fond of. Are forced to view videos via HTML standards and the world's most efficient, widely-used codec (h.264), like YouTube serves up for iOS users.

Some day, Adobe will have the engineering prowess to get Flash on a majority of mobiles. And as the Register notes, it will help users who want legacy technology. For now, it's just a contentious sidenote to mobile computing.

Patent attack launched on Google's open video codec

Walt French

This isn't about who's willing to give away their work…

… it's about who has the right to prevent others from giving their work away for these others' benefit.

I don't see that Apple has claimed a lot of rights that VP8 tramples, so I don't see what this has to do with Apple and MS other than some other hatred of them. NOT relevant to this issue, eh?

In any case, they're a small minority of the MPEG-LA, which is concerned about a stable environment for doing business by the people who ship $billions$ of TVs, DVDs, satellite boxes, over-the-air digital broadcast equipment, all of which use h.264. That's why the h.264 codec, around which MPEG-LA has created a predictable patent/rights environment, is backed by so many TV manufacturers, broadcasters, video equipment producers, etc.

We're fans of internet video, which is the future, but the present is with the above, who have chosen to have a clear path even if it requires paying 10¢ per end-user (or less).

I personally am not opposed to paying a dime to a group of engineers and suits who have designed and negotiated a fine way of transmitting & storing video. I recognize that others may have different opinions, but don't see why they want to prevent me from my choice.

Walt French

The basis for patents

I don't know how the idea of patents spread, but I do know at least it was ensconced in the US Constitution, and so dates to "liberal" ideas of the 18th century. Or earlier.

The purpose was pretty clearly to prevent the government or thieves from expropriating individuals' work, denying them their livelihood.

People here seem to think they have better ideas, but this has been the law for centuries. I myself have advocated civil disobedience to improper laws, but claiming they are somehow irrelevant is just a silly fantasy. If there are patents covering VP8, this process should uncover them, and provide a way for the US society to agree as to whether they are relevant. As to whether they are fair, why, that has nothing to do with VP8, Apple or Google; I doubt the US Supreme Court would casually turn over something just because a couple of freetards think it's a bad way to go.

How Nokia and Microsoft will carve up mobile services

Walt French

Poke Intel in the eye???

Microsoft and Nokia will both be thrilled to have a viable mobile offering three years from now, so I'm sure that "poking Intel in the eye" is about the LAST thing in their mind.

I can see that Intel MIGHT have thought their Meego effort would bear fruit, but I CAN'T see why, if this is a mission-critical business for them, they would have allowed another firm, Nokia, to control their destiny. More likely, they would *like* to be in the mobile space, but recognize they have nothing particularly interesting to offer and were happy to let Nokia flatter them.

Fanboi king hails Apple 'love affair with open web'

Walt French

Further Free Scenarios

I have seen others claim — I haven't plowed thru the paperwork — that videos of less than 12 minutes in length do not need to pay royalties to MPEG-LA, regardless of whether they lurk behind paywalls.

A source specifically cited the Wall Street Journal news articles, usually ~ 5–10 minutes, as royalty-free.

I like free as much as the next person, but I DON'T like "free" when it means I get something quite inferior for de minimus savings. The area of greatest interest is specifically mobile phones. ALL of 'em have h.264 built into hardware; across the many millions of handsets the costs get capped and are essentially irrelevant — somewhere around 0.02% of the cost of the phone itself; more like 0.005% of the cost of a two-year service contract at typical US rates. This is the cost that Google wants to rescue us from by proffering WebM.

Walt French

Motives? Please Identify where I claimed motives.

“While what you've said are mostly well-known facts. I think you got Google's motives completely wrong.”

Thanks for the confirmation of my understanding. And apologies for writing descriptions in a way that you read as motives. I didn't intend to cite any as I'm frankly utterly confused what advantages Google will gain that are commensurate with the risks they have taken.

There are many who applaud Google's moves, so I won't discuss the advantages. However, Google seemingly wants near-universal access to the web through the browser, and those websites who have been moving towards video without Flash are certain to be perplexed by this move. Google risks having users of the Chrome browser being unable to see sites that use h.264 video. And most of all, by weakening their customers' browsers' ability to use the lowest-cost (!) video codec, they will encourage organizations to develop apps instead of using the <video> tag; apps clearly being contrary to Android's "the browser is paramount" goal and a competitive disadvantage for them vis-à-vis Apple.

* I say the lowest-cost codec because while the fee for an h.264 end-user license can go as high as $0.10, most pay much less. Any mobile video user whose time is halfway valuable will resent the time and possibly higher data cost to get equivalent picture quality on their mobile. The general SWAG is that h.264 is about 10% more efficient than contenders, because those patented features actually perform valuable compression, so like quality needs about 10% more data and is 10% slower under WebM. Whose time isn't worth a dime?

Walt French

Register's Straw Man

Well, quite the tempest over Google's move, and a pundit's response to it. Whatever else you think of Gruber, he is NOT responsible for policy at Apple, so he's kind of a straw man for a very different debate.

Today, h.264 is the overwhelming choice of every distributor of video, both on the web and elsewhere. Digital TV standards around the world. Blu-Ray. Videocams, inside mobiles or elsewhere. On the web, however, somewhere around half of that video is put into a Flash container. It's still h.264, but Flash supplies other features such as DRM and interactivity. Flash does support other formats besides h.264, but the technical superiority of h.264, as well as the simplicity of workflow, means almost all is h.264.

Google announces they will no longer support it, citing their credo. But not really: h.264 will continue to be the dominant way that their browser users, in fact all browser users, get almost all their video for many months, perhaps years, to come. Google is merely requiring its users to invoke the Flash software.

Yes, WebM is theoretically an alternative. Today, that is virtually impossible, as virtually no production or distribution or widely-used players exist. Also, Ogg. While some very vocal developers value the open licenses of these, the entire commercial web, as well as most non-commercial websites, use h.264.

No mention of Apple, yet, which, to my knowledge, has made no comment. The most recent news from Apple that's even remotely relevant is that Apple has collaborated more closely with Adobe, and Adobe has released new plug-ins (including some test versions, IIRC) for Macs, that Adobe says work much better than before.

Apple iPhones continue to have exactly the same Flash support as every BlackBerry. Every Nokia. Every Windows Phone. Every Palm (remember them?) And even, the many Android phones being sold today running version 2.1. Surely, John Gruber has not convinced all these Apple competitors to avoid Flash?

Perhaps author Metz has a theory explaining why Fanboi Gruber is the focus of an article when it's Google claiming ideological purity by making empty claims of saving the world from a superb, near-universal format, when in fact it is not even doing any such thing. Google is merely, and transparently discouraging website developers from dropping the Flash wrapper from their videos.

This article has utterly missed the story, attacking a straw man position. Trolling, so typical.

Apple iOS app hunger swells

Walt French

Over my head…

It sure seems like Google doesn't give much credence to this type of info. Just this week, Google says it might get around to purging the store of apps that violate their Terms Of Service (e.g., inappropriately taking customer data). Here they are, in a full-out race with iPhone, and they still have what is widely characterized as a store infested with spyware, apps that don't do what they say, inability to even buy an app in many countries, etc.

There COULD be method to Google's madness: they want to provide a wide-open access to the internet, and little else. They seem to care very little for the little games, expense trackers, etc that aren't all about the www.

But if this data even remotely suggests what people like to do with their mobiles, Google's approach is puzzling. Why not make it easier for developers to sell apps, and customers to toss a couple of dollars to the people who make these little charmers? Most of these apps are priced less than what you might tip your server at lunch, and they build customer loyalty.

Of course, there are many aspects to Google's tactics that are over my head. Anybody who wants to point out why apps hardly matter, please feel free.

Apple refuses frozen iPhone repair

Walt French

In YOUR world, devices have limits and users can't be clueless

Every device any more is designed to work within a prescribed environment.

Fr'instance the Nokia N8, surely intended to be used in the cold. Its User Manual directs, “always keep the battery between 15°C and 25°C.” Use the phone much without a battery? Obviously, this is a much tighter restriction than Apple applied. Some devices will be more tolerant, others less.

BUT ALL REAL-WORLD DEVICES HAVE LIMITS! Even if they're buried in the fine print. (Apple's are right on the specs page.)

Nokia's user information unhelpfully applies other warnings. “Do not use or store the device in dusty or dirty areas…Do not store the device in high temperatures. …Do not store the device in cold temperatures.” How dirty is bad? Obviously, “too” dirty.

My point is not to bash Nokia, nor specifically exonerate Apple. I point out that we live in a real world, where compromises must be made. Users who want to work in extreme environments must expect to pay extra for the more stringent engineering costs. Maybe, these are easy and a simple 5% cost premium results. But for some items, say, batteries, no amount of clever engineering will ensure they'll work after being left outdoors for a week in Antarctica.

And that means, the user will have to RTFM!

Walt French


It's “U. S.” and not “US.”

Oh, it's OK to use either the earlier or a newer form? Take a look at a dictionary and see that “centigrade” was the universally-accepted form before honoring Celsius in 1948, and the likelihood of any listener being confused hearing “centigrade” approaches zero.

I might even wager that more people around the world recognize the association for “Fahrenheit” than “Celsius,” since most people only hear “degrees” unless we Americans have to be specific.

Walt French

BRAVO for El Reg

It takes a certain genius to pretend to be a tech-oriented web site, and report stories the way you'd expect in a cheap tabloid for near-illiterates.

Here, the Register has cleverly refused to discuss the actual problem in technical terms. Was the battery dead? Motherboard capacitors blown? Circuit traces cracked from parts' warming and expanding other, still-ultra-cold parts?

Naw, actually "reporting" such technical facts might stifle the creativity of those who know it's because Apple HATES satisfied customers, or who otherwise want to promote nonsense.

In particular, while condensation MIGHT indeed have been the problem, that would NOT prevent Apple from honoring a warranty. Condensation is actually MORE likely if you were to take the phone out of a very cold storage and operate it in a warm, slightly humid area. That obviously does not violate the prohibition against USING it in too-cold temps, but such logic is eschewed in the interest of a "lively" (i.e., totally information-free) discussion.

How serendipitous that acting like a dolt draws trash!

Google sneak peeks Android for fondleslabs

Walt French

Are false claims a sign of desperation?

A “…truly virtual and holographic user interface,” eh? So Google has some new laser display technology up their sleeves, given that holography relies on interference patterns from coherent light sources?

Apple's claims of “magical” are hard to refute logically, but this goes a step beyond, claiming a functionality that we may presume is utterly absent.

Raising Android Marketing to an Ever Higher level of BS.

Exposed: leaked body scans published online

Walt French

Big scam by Gizmodo; is Reg more clueless than usual?

These images are NOT from the scanners. You can see people in the foreground and background, far removed from the scanners.

The images are totally smudgy, not unlike what you'd get with some infrared camera. The sort of thing that anybody could easily walk up to the TSA line with. Anybody who sees pudenda here, has a much more vivid imagination than I do. We KNOW that the TSA is getting different images out of the scanners.

Further, the portly appearance of the subjects, plus pre-identified areas of the photos for closer inspection, suggest these were plant/test (TSA? ScanCo?) employee subjects, and the photos were used to justify the machines or train operators in noticing contraband that other detection systems miss.

So (1) Gizmodo has no idea what scanner images actually look like, and (2) their claim that these images prove scanner images are somehow saved is utterly without merit. Scanner images certainly MAY have been saved, but if this is the best Giz/El Reg can find, you'd actually think they are either shredded or VERY carefully locked away.

iPhone apps put user privacy at risk

Walt French

Users (smartly!) DEMAND that these apps track their ID

The PDF mentions Twitter, Amazon and facebook by name. I didn't see others called out.

But these apps are USELESS for their intended purpose without identifying information. Twitter is where you post YOUR thoughts for the world -- or your four thousand intimate friends, anyway -- to see. Amazon exists for the sole purpose of sending books, televisions or MP3s to you, in exchange for some sensitive financial info & permission to draw on the accounts. You don't want to be ID'd when you link in? Why link in, then?

Come back with some more questionable examples of apps that want to track you. Every one of these, the user would refuse to use if the app DIDN'T track you.

Steve Jobs in iPhone bitchslap to creationists, Tea Party

Walt French

No worry about “intelligent” design here!

Has El Reg been taken over by the Inquirer? Don't people feel a bit tender around the anus after having patronized this nonsense?

Google: 'We did not follow Apple into phone market'

Walt French

Not only "slap a label on it..."

The public info on the Android phones prior to the iPhone were not multi-touch oriented; they were keyboard-centric. Tiny netbooks, if you will.

Many of us heard the Google comments at I/O and thought they were revisionist history themselves, in saying that Google did Android to prevent "one man, one company" from controlling the mobile internet. Well, that sure sounds like a "response" to Apple, to me, even if they had bought Android Inc in 2005. Since Google execs apparently say whatever suits their fancy, it seems...

- Google bought Android in 2005, probably with the intention of extending their ad platform (how the firm makes money).

- Google decided that after the iPhone, the features would need to be substantially greater than the prototypes Android, Inc. had come up with. They formed the alliance and upped the hardware spec, plus the software. (In response to Apple.)

- Google finds it useful to contradict Apple's version of anything so Schmidt calls Job a liar.

Given that his own people have mouthed the same history that Jobs cited, it sounds like utter marketing BS either way. I wouldn't trust a bit of it. Just one of the many ways that Google seems low-class in this whole phone thing, altho maybe that's what they think they have to do.

Maybe Schmidt will issue a correction to the I/O presentations of his own people? That'd clarify things.

Apple bars radiation nanny from App Store

Walt French

The "Crock" is Tawkon's

This app cannot work under long-standing rules that Apple has recently clarified: the info that Tawkon claims it uses is not available thru published APIs. Ergo, the app is not merely useless, it is deceptive. Apple bans those, too.

Maybe some day Apple will document the interface that Tawkon needs and they can get the data they want and present it in a way that is not deceptive. I kinda doubt both.

People who want to know how Tawkon thinks they are frying themselves should buy BlackBerries or maybe Tawkon's engineers can figure out how to work on Android.

And just because I'm a great guy, I'll save those interested from the $9.99 expense there, too: especially if you are far away from a tower (e.g., 1 bar) so that the radio needs to send a stronger signal, use a headset to minimize radiation to your skull. Not that it matters. You're welcome.

Walt French

Right: there are at least 3 better reasons to ban it.

(1) Ban it because it does not do what it says it will.

It cannot detect how far you're holding the antenna from your head. It cannot detect how much power is being reflected away from you. It...

It doesn't do anything except make a stink, which is exactly what the article sez.

(2) Ban it because it cannot work without using private, or non-existent APIs. Even developers who dislike Apple's rules on private APIs concede that apps that use them are at risk of failing, crashing the phone, or even modifying its operations. All the more reason to keep these clowns away from circuitry that could fry your phone.

(3) Recognize that all "legal" iPhone apps are products sold by Apple thru its store. It implicitly endorses the suitability of the apps. There is no way that Apple or XYZ Inc is going to open itself up to lawsuits over hypothetical harm. Tawkon should go peddle its stuff on venues that don't care about shooting themselves in the foot. Maybe Android Don't Care ®.

Flash bursts onto Android

Walt French

Thanks for reminding us: Android Is Not Android

The article said that Flash has “burst” onto Android. It probably meant the expression positively, versus the breaking of a colostomy bag. And yet, the great majority of Android phones now in the wild will not get Froyo for weeks, if ever.

This is Choice® for HTC to sell you a replacement phone to the one you bought a year ago; Open® in that the world is 100% dependent on Adobe's schedule and capabilities for installing Flash on devices. How many ordinary people expect that when they went into the Verizon store and bought a Droid, that they'd be completely in the dark about capabiliities that were supposedly "supported": even the just-released DroidX ships without Flash.

Google's geniuses have shown a remarkable disinterest in little issues like customer service, patches for security issues, bugfixes, driver corrections, you know, all the stuff that differentiates a nice meal at a restaurant from a can of beans in a homeless encampment.

PS to the author: “The threat of embedded Flash competing … will ensure that Apple never allows Adobe's technology unrestricted access to iOS devices. … But no one else has anything to lose by supporting Flash and the rare opportunity to lord it over iPhone users is something everyone can appreciate.”

Does this mean that no other provider is going to have an interest in an app store for its users? That's grim news for developers who might hope to write real apps for those stores. Or do you mean that the absence of Full Flash on all but a handful of the nearly half-billion smartphones is because of (bogus) technical reasons, since all would LOVE to one-up Apple? Where is it then?

Microsoft bares Steve Jobs' Flash rant claptrap

Walt French

Gosh, don't Reg writers know how to read English carefully?

So how is it that Microsoft's not having <b>completely</b> migrated to Cocoa in any way dispute the fact that Adobe was the last to move over? And, for that matter, why do you try to claim that Apple offers third-party apps?

Some people might think this is hair-splitting, but when you say somebody is lying, you have an extra burden of proof. Aren't libel laws in the UK rather nastier against against willfully malicious misstatements, even if they were fueled by incompetence?

Queuing for an iPad? Why?

Walt French

Why, Indeed? 'Cos they do useful things that people want

People queued up so the Reg would have something earthshaking to write about. Slow news day otherwise?

If this is too insignificant to write about, why write about it?

Apple seems to have come full circle from the time when they'd ousted Jobs, and priced their computers according to the monopolist's playbook… when, unfortunately, they hadn't a monopoly on an easy-to-use interface any more. Now, the Apple logo signals to consumers that they'll be much more satisfied than if they'd bought some crappy competitive product.

Would that some other firms would think up some clever devices that aren't just the latest minor speed upgrade of last year's hard-to-use model.

Apple iPad

Walt French

It's NOT intended to do what desktops or laptops do!

“Disruptive Technology” is NOT meant to do everything its predecessors can. It's meant to do MANY things faster, easier to access, more accessibly.

And so the iPad does.

Great for vids, quick surfing, reading, ... Not too bad for shorter emails, twitter, etc., and usable sometimes when a notebook or desktop wouldn't be handy. NOT a replacement for stuff I use at my office that does major processing or ties into secure systems that can't be accessed over any wifi.

My needs are met well enough by a combo of an iPhone and a loaded-to-the-gills MacBookPro, so I'm not getting an iPad soon. But it sure looks compelling and I laugh at quibbles such as its using a micro-sim in place of the older standard.

Apple bets on Mac-only photo land grab with Aperture 3

Walt French

Doesn't matter even if 90% of photogs use Windows

“After all, professional photographers wouldn’t be seen dead with a Windows-based machine, right?”

Well, the obvious point, supported by your readers' comments above, is that a total of about three Windows-using photographers might actually try then buy Aperture. Whereas on the Mac platform, Aperture competes pretty head-on against Lightroom and gets a share of sales.