* Posts by Simon Rockman

577 publicly visible posts • joined 17 Nov 2007


Elon is the bakery owner swearing in the street about Yelp critics canceling him

Simon Rockman

Nice piece.

Bank of Ireland outage sees customers queue for 'free' cash – or maybe any cash

Simon Rockman

This sounds like North Korean Hackers

Cosmos Bank of India was hacked by the North Korean Lazarus group - a hack known as "jackpotting" which had just the same scenario. They made off with $14m from ATMs around the world, all within a few hours. Just handling the cash was an impressive feat. Details here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3ct5fby

The spokesperson for Cosmos said that they recovered all the money from legitimate customers who took advantage of the ATMs spewing cash. When I heard that I suspected a whiff of Mandy Rice Davies.

Post Office Horizon Inquiry calls for compensation to be brought forward

Simon Rockman

Allowing the perpetrator to assess the compensation

It's a huge shame that Sir Wynn didn't scrap the existing compensation schemes and set up a new, independent one. The awards being made are tiny. Think what a ;lifetime of earnings must be, then throw in compensation for wrongful prosecution, imprisonment, stress of collapse of marriage and the like. It's got to net out at £3m a pop and there are over 1,000 cases. Current awards are in the tens of thousands.

Will LLMs take your job? Only if you let them

Simon Rockman

Re: I am an LLM!

I'm rather pleased that we've grown out of people commenting on what else AI stands for.

Windows XP's adventures in the afterlife shows copyright's copywrongs

Simon Rockman

I'd bet there is plenty of code SAP is using that is more than 20 years old.

Nvidia CEO pay falls ten percent in FY23 on missed sales targets

Simon Rockman

Dropping sales

It's almost as if all the Etherium miners have stopped buying graphics cards to mine.

India calls for all mobile phones to include FM radios

Simon Rockman

You need more than FM.

When I worked for Sony Ericsson, I had the task of traveling the world to learn about how people used mobile phones in different places. I went to rural India. The real expert was the Nokia anthropologist Jan Chipchase so much of my work was just reading his research. Bear in mind that this work was done over a decade ago and was for feature phones, but I suspect that much still holds true.

India needs special phones. In poor areas your phone is a status symbol, but it has to have utility. It’s why Chipchase added a torch. Farmers who go out at night to turn on the irrigation want torches. There are a lot of power cuts and batteries are expensive. A radio also adds justification to this major purchase.

India has four religions: Hindu, Muslim, Bollywood and Cricket. It is the secular ones of these which dictate phone requirements. Most cricket is (or was) broadcast on AM, so we added AM to the Sony Ericsson phones. The country is loud. Everywhere is noisy, so we added big speakers, particularly for listening to Bollywood music.

We also learned a lot about resale value, supply chain, dust (lots of it), language support and regionalisation. We debated adding a field in the phone book for caste, but were told that people just know. A bit like gaydar.

It was a long time ago, before apps and before the kitchen sink attitude to features. We had Cybershot phones for photography and Walkman for music fans. There was proper consumer segmentation for devices. MeitY is right in wanting features that suit the nation but it’s a lot more than FM radio.

Catching a falling rocket with a helicopter more complex than it sounds, says Rocket Lab

Simon Rockman

Why don't they put retractable wings on the booster and then they could glide them back

Luxury smartphone brand returns with $41,500 device

Simon Rockman

The really interesting thing about this phone is that it's not Android. It's their own, linux based OS, with encryption through a custom chip. This is probably as ambitious as the claim to be the new Appple.

Google bans third-party call-recording apps from Play Store

Simon Rockman

You are much better off doing it in the network

I've used quite a few call recording apps, but in practice you are far better off using a SIP connection and a provider where you can record in the network. Some providers, like Truphone, aimed at financial service where recording of calls is mandated, will let you do it over cellular.

UK internet pioneer Cliff Stanford has died

Simon Rockman

Re: A proper entrepreneur

What's often not mentioned was that the first Rolls-Royce was a very tatty Mk I Shadow in lady Penolpe pink.

Simon Rockman

Re: Not about the modems

Frank, I'd left by the time Cliff was doing Apricots, but I suspect the car was a fabulously wallowy, Peugeot 604 in JRG. At one time, before I met him, he'd had an American car with the numberplate PET 123, which he enjoyed driving in France because of how PET translates.

Simon Rockman

Re: Why was it called Demon?

Ok, here is the *real* story as to why it was called Demon. As I mentioned in the obituary, Cliff had a company called ImPETus, which wrote code on Commodore PETs. So the joke was our software was In PETs. That went broke because we charged too little for our really rather good software.

Cliff started up again, with two other people. one of whom raced high-performance radio control cars competitively and successfully. The rules of indoor scale model racing are very tight, one of the regulations was a cost cap on the motors. The best at the time were Demon Power motors. So looking for a name for the reborn software company they chose the name Demon, because the colleague liked the name. That became Demon Systems and when Cliff's tenner a month took off, Demon Internet was born from Demon Systems.

When ImPETus went broke Cliff laid me off, it was my first job out of school and Cliff was really, really good about it. That meeting, which I can still vividly remember 42 years on, turned Cliff from my boss to a friend. I learnt that firing someone is harder than being fired. He called around some friends to try and find me a job, and asked me to keep the keys to the office and the company credit card in case they could have me back.

There is probably a revisionist name around why the company was called Demon, but when I see companies spending fortunes on branding I'll think of Demon and Amstrad that built multimillion businesses by just having a name the CEO liked.

Intel targets edgy 5G and AI with new chips, software

Simon Rockman


I suspect that these chips are around $10k, based on what other scalar Xeons cost, the move in OpenRAN is to cheap, small cells, with an aim for a $1k cell. I hope I'm wrong and the Intel device is on-trend but it's always very hard to get pricing info.

The year ahead in technology fail: You knew they were bad, now they're going to prove it

Simon Rockman

Rupe.. I was with you all the way up until..

Folding phones. I love my Z3 Flip.

In a world where everything is a Black Mirror, having a phone that is different. In any way different. Is special.

Of course, if all phones were folding ones we'd be back in the same positions.

I understand wanting to inhabit a virtual world.

No, I understand wanting to inhabit a different world to the one we are in.


Samsung releases pair of jeans that can't do anything except cover your legs and hold a Galaxy Z Flip 3

Simon Rockman

No wrong

So, I started by thinking you were wrong about this idea, but not as you may think that the Z3 Flip is a bad idea. I love mine. folding phones are A Good Thing.

Nor are custom jeans a bad idea. I could be tempted.

No the reason that this is not thought through is that, looking at the pictures, the phone doesn't fit in the custom pocket.

Judge in UK rules Amazon Ring doorbell audio recordings breach data protection laws

Simon Rockman

From the chatter on my street's Whatsapp group I think most people would be quite happy of the whole road was covered. If you have a phone, use a bank card or drive a car you have no privacy. Get over it.

Google is designing its own Arm-based processors for 2023 Chromebooks – report

Simon Rockman

"Following the same path as Apple"

Except Apple brought in the expertise by buying PA Semi: https://www.theregister.com/2008/06/11/steve_jobs_spills_pasemi_beans/

Ever wanted to own a piece of the internet? Now you can: $1 for a whole gTLD... or $2.8m if you want a decent one

Simon Rockman

Re: .com, .org, .gov, .edu

I bought some lamps from lights.co.uk only to find that they were a German company, shipping from Germany with all the ensuing supply chain problems. So when customer service was diabolical it took weeks for them to fix problems. Then one arrived broken and again the replacement had to be shipped from Germany. I would not have bought them from a German website. I was furious. Indeed, incandescent.

Going, going, gone... until March: UK comms regulator delays 5G spectrum auction over pandemic logistics

Simon Rockman

It's all about borrowing money

To buy the rights to use the spectrum the operators will go to financial institutions. While we are in the midst of a pandemic borrowing money is hard.

Waiting until the markets recover is sensible if Ofcom wants to realise the best return.

Unfortunately, this means delays to the coverage it promises. Ofcom first identified 700Mhz as a priority in 2014


Ofcom has long said that the auction would happen "by 2022", but there have been many false dawns on this one.

Planet Computers has really let things slide: Firm's third real-keyboard gizmo boasts 5G, Android 10, Linux support

Simon Rockman

Re: Slip sliding away...

Sidekick was hugely sucessful in the US.

Simon Rockman

Re: Head office?

No, it's the real office they work from. I've visited a few times. Love my Gemini, very tempted by this.

HMD Global revamps infamous commuter-botherer, the Nokia 5310 XpressMusic

Simon Rockman

Odd choice

The obvious Nokia re-boot is the 6310

Google and IBM square off in Schrodinger’s catfight over quantum supremacy

Simon Rockman

Delighted to see Rupert writing for El Reg, but I think it "a frozen lunchbox consuming virtually no power in its core can outperform a computer chewing through enough wattage to keep a small town going" is carefully drawing the lines to ignore the power consumption of cooling the whole lot to 15 millikelvins.

5G signals won't make men infertile, sighs UK ad watchdog as it bans bonkers scary poster

Simon Rockman

The problem with the animal experiments which get cited (the Ramazzini study) is that the results were inconclusive so both sides use them selectively. For instance one side might say "some of the exposed mice and rats got cancer, the control ones didn't" while the other side will say "all the exposed mice and rats significantly outlived the control animals". This means the control ones might have developed cancer too if they had lived long enough.

But ultimately it's the difference between science and belief. There are people who believe that radio waves are dangerous and that may be enough. There is a lot we don't understand about placebo and nocebo. Belief does seem to have and epidemiological effect so believing it is dangerous might actually make it so.

I made a cup of tea this morning, well it was pain boiled tap water, but I thought of it as homeopathic tea. It was delicious.

Hey Dixons, you know what's mobile? Your rapidly shrinking sales

Simon Rockman

The handset market has got boring. Replacement rates are down, not even Apple can add upgrade sparkle.

Roll-on the Reborn RAZR.

Weird flex but OK... Motorola's comeback is a $1,500 Razr flip-phone with folding 6.2" screen

Simon Rockman

Not too expensive

Remeber the original Razr launched at $1,000, and $1,500 is the same price when you allow for inflation. That said it was nigh on $2=£1 then.

The job of the Razr is to be aspirational.

Trump-China trade war latest: Brave patriot Apple decides to do exact same thing, will still make Mac Pro in US

Simon Rockman

Manufacturing is one thing..

What about sales? China and India are the strongest growth markets what happens to Apple when China stops buying iPhones?

In the bag: Serco 'delighted' to grab £450m ferry and freight deal between Scotland and Northern Isles

Simon Rockman


Fantastic place. I was there yesterday. There is a great wireless museum in Kirkwall.

UK.gov: Huge mobile masts coming to a grassy hill near you soon

Simon Rockman

mast whining

This has been going on for a very long time. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/02/27/ministry_of_fun_announces_tries_again_on_mobile_mast_planning_permission/

The major thing a change in the rules is that it takes away the networks' excuse that they can't provide coverage because the rules are too restrictive.

Although to be fair to the networks they signed up to better coverage and then the goverment failed tto deliver on 900MHz spectrum licensing and mast planning: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/03/27/1uk_voda_ceo_says_one_thing_about_not_spots_minister_of_fun_says_another/


GoDaddy's daddy goes: Chief exec Scott Wagner steps down as hosting biz swings into the red

Simon Rockman

I like GoDaddy

This week I had an hour long call with "sales" where they went through all the services I had switched some off and many to cheaper alternatives. It will have significantly reduced my quarterly spend.

I also like the tech support, the Phoenix office, in particular, has the ability to pitch explanations at the right technical level for me. Not being condescending or talking over my head.

Bonkers British MPs rant: 5G signals cause cancer

Simon Rockman

It's complicated, so people don't try to understand, they just have opinions.

The millitant action against 5G seems to have come out of nowhere.

The problem is, if you explain to people with deeply held beliefs why they are wrong they are incapable of absorbing the information. It's fine with people who are neutral, but when someone asks you "Is it safe?" and you say "Limits are not yet fully harmonised within the EU but the upper limit, which applies to the total power from all sources, recommended by ICNIRP is f/200 W/m^2 between 400 MHz and 2 GHz, then 10 W/m^2 up to 300 GHz which is an electric field strength of 61.4 V/m." you can't be surprised when they switch off. And go back to their beliefs.

I'm in a twitter war with someone who has oblected to my blog, who won't accept any argument on the basis that I work in the industry so I'm biased. But if the industry doesn't do any resarch it's accused of ignoring the problem.

This is complicated by the people ho know about biology not tending to know about rado physics and vice versa. I've worked with people who understand the physics and they have critised the methodology of some of the biologists doing research, and I guess if I found some good biological people they would make similar claims of the physicists.

We've looked very, very hard, there are something like six billion phones in use and we've not found anything yet, but that doesn't seem to carry any weight.

Vodafone urges UK.gov to get on with it and conclude review into Huawei

Simon Rockman

I understand that EE is 70% Huawei, 30% Nokia.

Coverage concerns dog UK Emergency Services Network as boss admits scheme too ambitious

Simon Rockman

The whole ESN is supposed to be release 12. Which is daft because release 12 doesn't support PTT, that's in release 13, but then Motorola own Kodiak a proprietary solution which it has introduced to bridge the gap. It also ensures that whatever devices are bought Motorola makes money. Part of the rationale for the ESN was an open market for devices. The whole project is a mess.

Home Office cops an earful for emergency network feck-ups - £3bn overbudget and 3 years late

Simon Rockman

The Three years late is a lie.

The original go-live date was September 2016. Three years is the date from the previous slip.

You can't say that El Reg didn't sound the warning bell: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/01/08/airwave_tetra_switch_off_gov_services_onmishambles/

Accenture sued over website redesign so bad it Hertz: Car hire biz demands $32m+ for 'defective' cyber-revamp

Simon Rockman

A website needs to be maintained

For a big company like Hertz the right course of action would have been to hire their own devs and do the site in-house. That removes, or at least reduces, all the budgetary meetings every time a change is needed.

It is but 'LTE with new shoes': Industry bod points a judgy finger at the US and Korea's 5G fakery

Simon Rockman

5G Evolution would be a name for 6G (whatever that is)

The orign of the name "LTE" as in Long Term Evolution was a 3GPP committee which wanted to set a 4G standard but whose remit was only 3G, so they discussed "3G LTE" by which they meant "4G". 4G was the long term evolution of 3G so 5G E, would be an evolution of 5G, as in what comes after, and it's far too early to think abou that. Indeed we may never get 6G : https://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/05/21/ee_and_prof_say_6g_mobile_will_never_exist/

Golly 4G whizz: Vodafone caught using Three UK's spectrum

Simon Rockman

It's not about the Vodafone or Three customers

All airports are battle-grounds between the operators. They fight to give coverage because they want the revenue from off-network customers roaming as soon as they arrive and switch their phones on.

Dixons Carphone still counting cost of miserly mobile phone sales

Simon Rockman

It's not Dixon's fault..

There is currently no must-have need to upgrade. Got an iPhone 7, Galaxy 6? You won't be any better off with an X or 9+. The battery life is no better the phones are no thinner, The camera is incrementally better but the old one was good enough as a phone and will never be as good as a proper camera.

Couple that with two year contracts and good SIM-only deals and why upgrade? The new generation of folding phones, particularly the new Moto Razr, might change this, but just as DixonsCarphone can't take the blame for the slump it can't take the credit for the recovery.

Huawei's 5G security scrutiny pain could be Cisco's gain – analysts

Simon Rockman

Protesting too much

I'm starting to suspect that a lot of the government suspicion about Huawei comes from the western governments knowing exactly what they are doing with Nokia/Ericsson/Cisco and whoever, and they assume the Chinese are doing the same.

Remember that the reason Sputnik was put into orbit was because the Russians couldn't do re-entry. The Americans could do re-entry but couldn't reach orbit. America assumed that if Russia could do orbit it could also do re-entry, and this kicked off the whole space race.

Ofcom: More spectrum for all the good boys and girls. Except you, EE. You've had your fill

Simon Rockman

Playing the ESN card

This is where EE says it can't meet it's ESN obligations without 700MHz, I suspect there will be a compromise where EE gives back some of it's higher frequency stuff to get some 700MHz and stay within the 37% cap.


Openreach names 81 lucky locations to be plugged into its super-zippy Gfast pipe

Simon Rockman

Redundant tech

G. Fast is bloody clever but it's an ADSL technology and will never do better than 500mb/s.

BT loves it because BT has more copper in the ground than most copper mines, but using G. Fast is a sticking plaster on old tech. The only sensible solution is FTTP.

G.Fast is, however, a half-way house to FTTP, it's FTTP where P is Pole, fibre to the pole and then copper (or aluminum if you are unlucky) to the home. It's kicking the can down the road and not something BT should be proud of.

We definitely don't need more towers, says new Vodafone boss scraping around for €8bn savings

Simon Rockman

It all depends on what you mean by 5G

If you mean 3GPP release 15 - which is the official definition - then you can do all that at existing spectrum and not build anything. Go on marketing, call it 5G.

If you want Ericsson's vision of 5G which is 500MHz of contiguous spectrum then you are going to need to go to millimeter wave. That's lots and lots more sites. Maybe not towers but buying streetlights is still shareholder baiting capex.

If you want the IoT view of 5G which is a million connections per square kilometer you need lots of backhaul.Again not towers but significant capex.

And testing 5G with its MIMO, Beamforming and full duplex is hard, very, very hard much more so than 4G so again needs a lot more capex.

Thinking in towers is simplistic.

My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

Simon Rockman

I think this proves you can throw things away...

If you need an old IEEE488 cable or whatever, one post on Facebook and you'll have one.

I got rid of my Dyson - it was just gathering dust, and my theremin. I hadn't touched it in years.

Planet Computers straps proper phone to its next Psion scion, Cosmo

Simon Rockman

Go for it

I've an early Gemini (I was something like funder 37), and it's been sterling. I don't even have keyboard mat problems. The audio isn't great for calls but it's more than paid for itself in the work I've done on the tube.

UK Home Office admits £200m Emergency Services Network savings 'delayed'

Simon Rockman

Re: Stop rewriting history...

With first deployments April 2016

Emergency Services Network delays to cost public purse £1.1bn, Home Office reveals

Simon Rockman

And this is despite moving the goalposts as to what constitutes coverage. Airwave is 99% landmass, London underground and inland waters, and some sea coverage (used by coastguard).

The new ESN is 90+% landmass - all major roads. And it still looks like being 10 years late.


China's going to make a mobile OS and everyone will love it, predict ball-gazing analysts

Simon Rockman


UK.gov won't Airwave bye for another 3 years, plans to phase in ESN services

Simon Rockman

Be careful of people around the Emergency Services network re-writing the past. The new ESN was supposed to start replacing Airwave in April 2016


This hasn’t started yet so it’s already three years late.

Every time they have moved the goalposts it’s late compared to the last time it was due, hence the “year late”. They haven’t even started testing because the service isn’t ready – I don’t think the device to device software is locked down yet – so whenever it is ready, and that looks like years – there will need to be 18 months of testing. This service isn’t a year late if it’s less than nine years late I will be surprised. Oh, and it’s many years since I used Kodiak, but it was so laggy that when I pressed the button and said hello to a college and they didn’t reply I walked down the corridor to the colleague’s office and as I entered his office I heard my message arrive. I doubt that it’s that bad now, but I very much doubt it’s up to the use the police need.

Vodafone cops ads rap over Martin Freeman's vanishing spaceship

Simon Rockman

Unlike the junk mail I got from BT which makes no mention at all of the speed it's trying to sell me with it's unlimited, superfast fibre. It did say that the speed was 5x what most people had, but not what it was actually selling me.

I'm typing this slowly because I'm in rural Westminster (in what was the nearest residential home to the House of Commons before it became offices), and so BT can only get me 17mb/s.

Hyperoptic arrives soon.