* Posts by Andrew Hodgkinson

106 posts • joined 7 Mar 2008

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Google changes course, proposes proprietary in-app purchase API as web standard

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: "see the capability gap between native and web apps closed as much as possible"

PWAs don't have any less security that a standard web page run through chrome.

YES. Exactly the point.

Reading every update note for every app to see what amazing new features it had. Doesn't happen anymore

Because thanks it large part to agile and in part to lazy change log writing, "nothing apparently changed" updates on a 2 or 3 week cycle with update notes saying something lame like "bug fixes and performance improvements" are the norm. That aspect of lazy development is only tangentially related at best to PWA vs native. People don't read them anymore because app updates are very annoyingly frequent and very rarely have anything interesting to say in the notes.

As for PWA vs Native it's often a different use case and a decent PWA doesn't have to be 'janky and slow'.

Compared to native, sorry, yes it does; the basic domain of HTML, CSS and JavaScript is simply a very poor and very inefficient toolset for constructing the kind of dynamic user interfaces we associate with apps, for which native APIs like Cocoa Touch are dramatically better optimised and designed.

People don't search for apps randomly, it is based on a real user need and most people would prefer not to download a full blown native app just to get information when staying at a hotel, or pay for their pizza etc.

So your argument here appears to be that a PWA is used when people don't want a "full blown app". This is surely a tacit admission of the limitations of the web based environment compared to native. Basically we're saying we just need web sites optimised for mobile a lot of the time. Agree! We don't need or want really to install things. Agree! So, um, wait. What's PWA for again? It's not to replace native apps, and it's a kind of installable thing...

...glorified home screen bookmark with an over complicated cacheing model that would've been better served just by the built-in web browser providing a first class ability to pin things to the home screen? Oh, wait, we have the latter. So, uuuh... All we've really got left is the ability to work offline. And of course, given that we recognise native is best unless you'd really want just to access what's on a web page, and the point of the web page is to be online, we're left with what? Crap games written in JavaScript that'll just about work offline because you jumped through the hoops needed to declare the resource collection in a manner that allows it to be accessed as a PWA?

If it's worth an app, treat your users with respect and make a decent native app that conforms to all your target operating system's best-practice recommendations, layouts, integrations with the rest of the system, accessibility features, and so-on. Have it lean on native frameworks as much as it possibly can to keep the app as small as possible and allow it to conform, often with little or no effort, with things like dark modes or system-wide contrast variations or animation styles or whatever.

If it's not worth an app, just make sure your inherently online web site is a best-possible online web experience on mobile and stop wasting your development money on PWA bundling.

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: "see the capability gap between native and web apps closed as much as possible"

Amen. As for PWAs, their slow, janky, non-native, non-integrated "performance" is of benefit only to the lazy developer who cares not for battery life (or multitasking, given that means sharing RAM) of the end user devices.

Native development is and will always be very much faster, very much more integrated and very much more respectful of local device idioms than a PWA. And yeah, in particular, given the history of web security - having a clueless JavaScript monkey hack up a way to siphon money off my credit card via some kind of JavaScript in app purchase API fills me with horror. We _all_ know exactly where that's going to end up.

Flaw hunter bags $75,000 off Apple after duping Safari into spying through iPhone, Mac cameras without permission

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Use our code its always better

From the article:

He found flaws in rarely used specifications that browsers nevertheless have to implement in order to be compliant with other code, but which do not get the same level of attention as commonly used parts of the browser API.

Pretty sure there'll be variants of this found, if you tried hard enough, in Chrome, Chromium, Opera, Firefox, Edge, MSIE...

Yes, Apple's software quality is increasingly terrible, but rancid specs are the bane of the web world. There is a litany of errors, with increasingly absurd, edge case riddled and ginormous specs comprising a bad joke as we go from version to version. Look at HTML 4 or XHTML 1.1 versus HTML 5, for example, or even CSS 1 vs CSS 2.

It's a nightmare of a job to implement this stuff. I know, I've done it, many years ago now; HTML 4 was new back then. I'm glad I'm not trying to do it in an HTML 5, CSS 3 world, especially not with modern JavaScript / ECMAScript and the bazillion flavours of that along with its ever-growing list of ever-more invasive interfaces into the host operating system as lazy programming (and a deficit of half-decent alternatives) continue to make engineers hell-bent on some kind of 'write once, run everywhere' model that competes with native-written applications tailored for the host operating system. Lowest common denominator is the _best_ outcome you can hope for. As for security? Forget it.

ZTE Nubia Z20: It's £499. It's a great phone. Buy it. Or don't. We don't care

Andrew Hodgkinson

Photos are "excellent"? In what universe?

Seriously, that autumn park photo was just absolutely *horrible* - weird, impressionistic and inconsistent smearing and edge artefacts as some kind of screwed up noise reduction system seemed to have turned it into a result resembling impressionism. The trees themselves (particularly the lower parts, in shadow) were bad, but worse yet was any of the grass under them or in the distance. Just the in-page image looked fuzzy and strange, but when zoomed in, it looked outright faulty. Hideous.

For £499, I'd be taking that straight back to the shop as unfit for purpose - based on your in-depth review of two photos (sigh) it's one of the worst performing cameras I've seen in a 2019 smartphone at that price point. Surely *half a grand* for the base level model means one should have some kind of standards here?! This is not a cheap device!

Not very bright: Apple geniuses spend two weeks, $10,000 of repairs on a MacBook Pro fault caused by one dumb bug

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Genius, more like idiot.

If you read TFA - he has a T2 chip in the laptop and a password set. It turns out that PRAM reset doesn't work if you have that. People tried PRAM resets; they didn't make the backlight come on.

There are very many levels of fail in the whole sorry story, but it boils down to modern Apple - each major hardware iteration gets worse and more expensive; each major software iteration gets more buggy, gaining new bugs that are never fixed; the once-industry-leading documentation is getting sparse to non-existent.

if developer_docs == bad then app_quality = bad; Coders slam Apple for subpar API manuals

Andrew Hodgkinson

It's just part of modern software engineering; with each passing year, code gets more bloated, less reliable and more poorly documented. Upcoming engineers either just can't be arsed documenting anything or literally don't know any better and are somehow unable to figure out for themselves how vital good documentation is. Rigour is dead; RIP.

As with most recent Apple problems, the most serious rot seemed to start quite suddenly, around the iOS 7 / OS X 10.7 era.

Turn on, tune in, drop out: Apple's whizz-bang T2 security chips hit a bum note for Mac audio

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Possible solution...

According to news reports, yes, using a USB 3 audio interface, a Thunderbolt audio interface, or a USB 2 interface hanging off a USB 3 or thunderbolt hub should all work. Only USB 2 devices on the internal bus appear to be problematic.

Still a damned stupid bug!

Oracle demands dev tear down iOS app that has 'JavaScript' in its name

Andrew Hodgkinson
Go

Well this all raises a pretty good point

So in the interest of forgetting any and all associations with Oracle, why don't we just call it ECMAScript, then? Even if that's clumsy? Most colloquial references seem to talk about it by framework anyway - "This site uses Angular", "The service is written in Node".

The app just changes its description to "HTML5, CSS, ECMAScript, HTML, Snippet Editor" and carries on being a hobby project with the accidental reference to the pointless bloatware dead-man-walking that is Oracle left consigned to the dustbin of history.

If Oracle want their trademark, let them have it. And thus, let it die.

Fake-news-monetizing machine Facebook lectures hacks on how not to write fake news that made it millions

Andrew Hodgkinson
Trollface

Facebook implemented a set of guidelines - and you won't believe what happened next!

Number 7 blew my mind!

<-- [Prev] I ate 30 tomatoes a day AND LOST 15KG IN A WEEK <--

--> [Next] 23 Reasons You Should Only Buy Blue Donuts -->

Have MAC, will hack: iThings have trivial-to-exploit Wi-Fi bug

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Now I'm Confused

But that's just it. I've bashed Apple's declining s/w quality relentlessly since the truly horrible days of the introduction of OS X Lion and iOS 7, but with High Sierra and iOS 11, the media is genuinely struggling to find anything wrong. Let's review the list:

* 32-bit apps stop working. Um, hardly a bug; that's been advertised since 2014, with non-64-bit app submissions to the store rejected for at least two years. iOS 10 started warning users about it, in increasingly strong terms. If you rely on a 32-bit app then yeah, it's crappy and you can't upgrade, but it's still a 3-year-old well advertised deprecation and means you are using an app that can't have had a single update or security patch in at least two full years.

* You can't turn off WiFi and Bluetooth! Panic! Uuuh, except you can, in Settings. Questionable UI for anyone but novices in Control Centre for sure, but the rationale is well explained in the Apple knowledge base article - it seems journos can't be arsed even reading *that* much these days though.

* An actual bug! The Exchange connection issue. I didn't experience it, but enough did that 11.0.1 is already out and fixes it. So, that's gone.

* Another bug perhaps? Some people report slow application launch times. I've not noticed it being slower, but then I've been on the beta a while before the final release and perhaps I got used to it. There could be a genuine issue here. The "double launch" UI animation bug is still present, so clearly something is amiss. This one seems legit.

* Worse battery life! Yeah, as with every update. Every single one. Spotlight reindexing and usage profiling data restarts each time. In 1-2 days, it'll settle as it always does. Doubtless a few people out of the many millions who can upgrade will have bad patches that don't function properly and need to restore, which sucks, but is that a reason to have screamed "do not upgrade" a day or two ago? No.

Aaaaand that's it so far. That's all. To me, that's basically mind blowing. I've never seen an OS release from anyone with so few headline bugs at release, even before iOS 11. There are little UI glitches all over the place, but nothing breaking the device functionality. Quite something, especially given the magnitude of changes on the iPad, which pretty much all seem to work properly.

High Sierra is a similar story and, very rarely for modern Mac OS, actually runs faster than 10.12 on some older hardware, allegedly thanks to Metal 2 and (for all-Flash storage devices) APFS. It certainly spend up my 2011 MBP. Again, very few significant bugs are evident, despite an entirely new filesystem; amazing. Yes, it's still a pale shadow of 10.6 thanks to ongoing absurd RAM requirements and such, but even the RAM problems are much reigned in compared with 10.12. Perhaps being stuck on 16GB max in laptops thanks to Intel limitations has been a motivator!

So I can say what I like about the intermediate years, but they seem to have genuinely knocked it out of the park on this one.

Attention adults working in the real world: Do not upgrade to iOS 11 if you use Outlook, Exchange

Andrew Hodgkinson

Full of nonsense as ever

The continued race to the bottom in El Reg persists, I see.

You of course can completely turn off Bluetooth / WiFi, in the Settings app. Control Centre does the rules-based "sleepy services" thing, which only supports the Apple proximity device detection features for stuff like Continuity or Airdrop. It'll probably solve more support queries than it generates, even if I personally don't think it's a good idea. And yes, airplane mode works normally.

But hey, thanks to warning us of the perils of the death of 32-bit advertised and warned about since 2014, a bug for some users (myself not included) with Exchange and a Control Centre oddity that most people won't even notice. For sure, iOS 11 truly is a catastrophe.

(Sent from the department of "why do I people come out with this rubbish"?)

Roses are red, you're feeling blue, 'cos no one wants to watch VR telly with you

Andrew Hodgkinson
Facepalm

Advert sent straight from the 1970s...

...or am I supposed to just ignore the bit around 10 seconds in where there's a close-up of a women's arse and a fast cut to a smug pervy guy grinning in appreciation?

I suppose it's close to honest advertising, given that the most likely way this will catch on - if at all - is for porn; perhaps since kids wearing headsets can't even *see* their parents walking in on them in the bedroom, they just won't care. Out of sight out of mind.

Stop us if you've heard this one before: Seamen spread over California

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Swarms of weaponized suicide drones

Don't worry, all you need to do is transmit some loud rock music over FM and the swarm will explode.

(Such a shame, that film had started quite well...)

Crocodile well-done-dee: Downed Down Under chap roasted by exploding iPhone

Andrew Hodgkinson

A few have

A few Telsa vehicles have already caught fire. Stories that pop up in Google include one that burned after an accident, one that burned in a garage while the owner claimed it was *not* plugged in, and one that burned in Norway while connected to a supercharger.

The fork? Node.js: Code showdown re-opens Open Source wounds

Andrew Hodgkinson
Stop

Re: Without open source there would be no leftpad

Except you've completely failed to answer my vertical centre challenge and the markup you require is a complete clusterfuck of mangled HTML and CSS hackery that is the total opposite of separating content from presentation logic.

And frankly, given that CSS even contains generated content directives these days, that idea sailed away a long, long time ago.

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Without open source there would be no leftpad

Sure, so how about you vertically centre that line of text next to that image which is on the right, and doesn't wrap around when the viewport gets small?

Have fun with your cross-browser CSS. I've already finished with tables.

Old isn't always bad.

Sloppy security in IoT putting 'life and limb' at risk, guru warns

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: The Greatest Fear is Fear Itself

Amen. OP's analogy is ludicrous. The river can't be commanded to flood your home by a botnet operated by script kiddies 10,000km away, but the IoT boiler [1] can sure as hell be commanded to close its inlet valves, boil itself dry and burn your house down remotely. Good luck trying to get the insurer to pay out when they claim that it "clearly must have been your fault", because computers are perfect and the manufacturer claims the IoT boiler is secure.

[1] Y'know, so you can warm up the water from work before you get home, because, like, everyone totally needs that and a dirt cheap mechanical timer just wouldn't cut the mustard.

Microsoft kills Sunrise

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Any one surprised?

The phrase you are looking for in relation to Microsoft is: "embrace, extend, extinguish". On this occasion, though, we might have skipped "extend" entirely.

Debian farewells Pentium

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Ouch!

Amen. "Farewelling"? What the actual fuck, El Reg.

Picking apart the circuits in the ARM1 – the ancestor of your smartphone's brain

Andrew Hodgkinson

Open source these days

> For some reason the software on the Archimedes seemed to before much more advanced than that for Win/x86 machines

It is open these days - I'm involved with RISC OS Open Limited, which manages it. Emulators available for those who want the nostalgia and it'll run on things like the Raspberry Pi for those that want something a bit more practical :-)

https://www.riscosopen.org/

US government's $6bn super firewall doesn't even monitor web traffic

Andrew Hodgkinson
Holmes

Re: At least 90% of the Register's readers

Diodelogic wrote:

> The only surprising information is that the firewall caught as much as 29% of the intrusions. I'd have guessed somewhere in the 6-9% range.

It didn't. It caught 29 of them. 29, not 29%. Which was indeed, as both your guess and the article say, around 6%.

Huffing and puffing Intel needs new diet of chips if it's to stay in shape

Andrew Hodgkinson

The unbridled greed of the MBA's New Normal

1-2% drop over the entire year with 55 *billion* dollar revenue and earnings per share over two dollars regardless.

"Plummets".

Yeah. OK. Whatever.

The new Huawei is the world's fastest phone

Andrew Hodgkinson

I'll get ignored and/or downvoted, but - "world's fastest"?!

Not that benchmarks really matter all that much unless you're an engineer, but your claim in this article is absurd, as one or two other commenters have pointed out.

Let's look at that Anandtech link which is the only thing you provide as a possible basis for the claim. The differences in results aren't small here - they're quite big jumps:

Kraken - iPhone is fastest

Octane - iPhone is fastest

WebXPRT - iPhone and Note are fastest

OS II System - iPhone is fastest

OS II Memory - Huawei is fastest

OS II Graphics - Almost everything is faster, Huawei tanks

OS II Web - iPhone is fastest

OS II Overall - iPhone is fastest

PC Mark - only tests Android and Huawei wins

I have no special love for today's Apple, their software quality is horrific, but on every benchmark except Android-only or *one* result for OS II, iPhone beats it.

"World's fastest phone"? What are you smoking?

Huawei announces tiny 10 KB IoT kernel

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: 10KB for the OS?

- "Swtmr" objects (whatever they are)

Software Timer, surely.

You've come a long way, Inkscape: Open-source Illustrator sneaks up

Andrew Hodgkinson

If you're on OS X...

...then Affinity show you just what a powerhouse closed source can be (I'm going to get *so* many downvotes for this) and just how good software really can be when it targets carefully, and integrates deeply with a specific operating system.

https://affinity.serif.com

As for "I haven't found anything in Photoshop that Gimp can't do", try > 8bpc images. Unless you're on the 2.9 beta, Gimp *still* can't do deep colour after years and years of waiting.

Elementary, my dear penguin: It's the second beta of Freya

Andrew Hodgkinson

Elephant in the room

Amazing nobody's mentioned that this "nice skin" is an utterly shameless rip of OS X pre-Yosemite, including Finder with sidebar, pre-Yosemite full screen arrows in the same location on the title bar and even including the stuff OS X users complain about like hard-to-see "running application indicator lights" in the faux 3D dock under the icons. The Calendar interface screenshot is also disturbingly unoriginal.

I can only assume they don't get sued to oblivion via design patents is that nobody's paying for the OS so they aren't big enough to worry about.

Apple deliberately wiped rivals' music from iPods – iTunes court claim

Andrew Hodgkinson

Clarification

This is dubious behaviour at best, but the title is nonsense (as are all titles I've read so far on the inevitably sensationalist reporting of the story).

Music loaded into iTunes would sync to an iPod just fine. You could buy (say) MP3s from anywhere you liked, load them into iTunes, sync and it'd work (within the normal iTunes/iPod values of "work"). Music sync'd to the iPod *BY SOME OTHER METHOD* would cause iTunes to barf.

The context is Apple's accusation that RealNetworks hacked the iPod by allowing unofficial iPod sync within the Real player, so that Real could directly sell and sync music over their own service instead of Apple (rather than selling over their own service, then throwing the files at iTunes for playback and sync - they had an overinflated opinion of their "brand" in RealPlayer, I suspect). Apple disagreed with the reverse engineered syncing, are calling it hacking and took steps to stop Real doing so. If iTunes found files on the iPod which it didn't put there itself, it would insist you reset the device.

You might very well argue that Real should've been allowed to do that (interoperability, monopoly breaking etc) and think it warranted an anti-trust suit. And lo, that's what's happening, and that's where the story comes from.

Fait Acompli: Microsoft gobbles Android email upstart for $200m

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Wtf?

Plus the execs from Zimbra and VWMare probably knew execs from Microsoft from the get-go and after lots of dual-direction corporate wining and dining, the backhanders were all sorted so the sale could go ahead.

The idea that an e-mail client could be worth $200 *million* is absurd even by typical industry absurdity, so it's very likely that there's more to it.

PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Still refusing to admit

Well yes, obviously, it makes a lot of sense.

If you upgrade on device, then the upgrade archive has to be downloaded to the device filesystem somewhere. So that's 1GB ish. Then you need a bunch of scratch and verification space, probably room to unpack files etc., and though 5GB seems excessive, you can certainly see how there'd be escalating storage requirements - especially with on-device checks and balances to make extra sure if anything goes wrong the OS isn't stuffed.

When doing it via iTunes, all the big files can be kept on the downloading computer, with only filesystem changes sent over the wired connection to the device. It may well be possible to be much less careful about keeping a consistent system state too, since if you're connected to iTunes, the upgrade process will already have made a restoration file in case things go tits up.

Big Retail's Apple Pay killer CurrentC HACKED, tester info nicked

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Concerns

> b) let Apple/Google know all about your purchases

That's exactly what Apple Pay doesn't do, since Apple don't make money off user data unlike Google. They were able to bypass any notion of storing information about the purchase as part of a unique selling point - and point scoring! - against Google, which does make money off this sort of thing and does collect data.

Apple often seem behave in a nasty way but the interesting part is that with Apple Pay, they have a vested commercial interest in *not* collecting your data. They're financially motivated to be the least evil in this particular case.

CurrentC is a waste of time because it's such a myopic US-centric mess anyway; social security number? In 2014? Chortle. Meanwhile, Apple Pay might struggle outside the US just because the rest of the world was already onto Chip & Pin, and now PayWave etc. anyway. The US transaction market has always seemed pretty "quaint" to much of the rest of the world.

Size matters – how else could Dell squeeze 15 million pixels into this 27" 5K monitor?

Andrew Hodgkinson

It's just a HiDPI version of 2560x1440

Lots of (entirely IMHO) missing-the-point comments about 4K.

4K is basically rubbish on large screens. It's just a 1920x1080 *equivalent area* display in most cases, albeit with the ability to scale outside the natural quad density arrangement (or in Windows' case, a general inability to scale consistently across applications with Hilarious Consequences). Most use a 4K monitor as something with 4 times the detail of the equivalent "low DPI" display, for a 1920x1080 equivalent area. At 27" and using typical laptop display area / on-screen element size as a reference, that's comically bad; UI elements are very large with a feeling of much wasted space.

Worse, 4K made it look like the industry would just settle on mass producing cheapo 4K panels and we'd get stuck in a prettified version of the 1080p rut we've endured for several years already.

Fortunately - albeit in largely niche products with a price to match - manufacturers have been making 27"-30" monitors with a 2560x1600 or 2560x1440 (former 16:10 preferred, more area / height - e.g. widescreen video editing *plus toolbars* top/bottom) resolution for a few years now. Dell's new so-called 5K display isn't just a numerical contest to try and make 4K look outdated, it's merely the natural quad density evolution of the predecessors; you end up with a 27-30" monitor that has a vaguely sane desktop "area" (think of it as 1440p), rather than something that's really just a crummy 1080p panel in disguise.

As someone who was using 1600x1200 CRTs in 1994, today's "FULL HD!!1!!11" seem rather pathetic and 4K overrated and overdue. The Dell announcement is great news, though I'd be even happier with a 30" display at 5120x3200 :-P

Apple 'fesses up: Rejected from the App Store, dev? THIS is why

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Blah, Blah Blah

Yes, so it's a good thing that this is just the pointless summary done by a journalist, rather than the more useful and linked-to-information summary done by Apple.

https://developer.apple.com/app-store/review/rejections/

Try reading the original material - then you can complain about what Apple *actually* said, rather than assuming The Register's language is Apple's language.

Apple abruptly axes Aperture ... Adobe anxiously awaits arrivals

Andrew Hodgkinson

So more crappy portware - or just move to Windows

Apple's software slide into utter mediocrity continues. How depressing.

I personally find all Adobe UIs I've ever used to be utterly horrible, but marginally less horrible on Windows since Windows doesn't have the same system-wide integration and toolkit approach of Cocoa on OS X. Your expectations as a user are thus much lower anyway. OS X seems to be as slow as molasses these days too (it all went horribly wrong at OS X Lion) and has at least as high a bug count as Windows now (again it all went horribly wrong at OS X Lion), so it just seems pointless to bother running it anymore, even if I'll miss Logic, text services and AppleScript support.

Fanbois Apple-gasm as iPhone giant finally reveals WWDC lineup

Andrew Hodgkinson

Now. With even longer. Pauses.

Much as I'm interested in WWDC as a developer, I'm not particularly looking forward to the Tim Cook keynote. Over time he's developed inter- and intra-sentence pauses that are getting so long, he's risking heat death of the universe before he finishes the speech.

Hopefully someone at Apple has noticed.

...It's getting ridiculous.

...Asked him to speed up, but somehow...

...I doubt it.

<Thunderous, slightly relieved applause>

Chipzilla just won't quit: Intel touts 64-bit Atoms for Android phones, tabs

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: So in summary

"Iphone 5s is 64-bit. Are there benefits to that?"

I co-wrote the following article which got journalistified :-P a bit but the gist of it is there:

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/sep/18/iphone-5s-apple-a7-chip-64-bit-explained

Office Online rises from ashes of 'confusing' Office Web Apps

Andrew Hodgkinson

Near perfect fidelity

IME, Microsoft Word itself can't offer near-perfect fidelity when reading its own files, so I don't buy the sales line that the cut-down web version is somehow better.

Nokia Lumia update spreads Black death

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: Worked for me...

""MS control the hardware and the software" except this wasn't MS. Yes, the MS GDR3 update was included, but Lumia Black is a Nokia software update for Nokia devices... er... OK."

Given how closely MS and Nokia have been working together from the get-go with WinPho devices and given the ex-Microsoft man at the Nokia helm back then, it'd be pretty daft to think that they were genuinely separate or that MS didn't have stranglehold control of what Nokia were doing from the get-go. That's now irrelevant though, since Microsoft purchased Nokia's mobile phone business in September 2013. When it comes to phones, MS and Nokia are now one and the same.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/microsoft/10283087/Microsoft-buys-Nokia-mobile-business-to-challenge-Apple-and-Google.html

Dell ‘xpands XPS line with 'WORLD-FIRST' MEGA-RESOLUTION laptops

Andrew Hodgkinson
Meh

Re: samsung does the same in 13.3"

I think there are different revisions of the same model number, which is confusing.

http://www.samsung.com/us/computer/pcs/NP940X3G-K01US-specs

It seems the current one does indeed have a 3200x1800, 10 point capacitive panel which if you want to touch your laptop screen is impressive. The big problem is the 13.3" screen size. It means an equivalent 2:1 resolution of 1600x900 in a 13.3" notebook... You'd better have *really* good eyesight. Alternatively, it means Windows is going to be asked to scale even higher than x2 standard; and good luck with getting *that* working reliably across all apps! To make this particular panel really legible at that size, you really need an OS which can manage arbitrary scaling, or at least something around the x2.5 mark. OTOH, it's clearly really nice to be able to get something that high res at that size if you really want it and great to see the industry finally moving towards higher resolution panels (even if the underlying driver for all this is likely to be 4K TV so we're probably going to be stuck with 16:9 displays everywhere still).

People have criticised Apple's decision to lock OS X into a 1x or 2x scaling mode, meaning that the so-called "retina" screens are always going to be x2 versions of traditional resolutions lest user interface elements appear too small. But the thing is, it works well and is cheap to implement; the illusion of arbitrary scaling can always be achieved just by running the frame buffer at a different resolution from the panel; and even though the "retina" marketing is a retch-inducing it's based on a sound principle of typical viewing distances and average ability to "see" a single pixel. Going higher resolution is pure spec-chasing with little real world benefit. As for scaling reliably - unfortunately Windows 8 hasn't quite got there yet as Microsoft historically took the more difficult, though more flexible (near-)arbitrary scaling approach, but often apps don't seem to cope very well. I don't know what stage Linux is at here.

All-in, given the scaling mess of Windows, comparing to Chrome Pixel might make more sense.

Apple tackles iPhone lock-up cockup with iOS 7.0.2

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: What happened to 7.0.1?

Version 7.0.1 was specifically for the 5S and 5C only, rolled out almost immediately after the hardware was released. The only widely discussed fix was a fingerprint sensor bug on the 5S; there's also a lot of talk of a number of regressions too. Rather an obvious sign that it was all pushed out the door a bit too early...

Version 7.0.2 is being used for everyone as a universal upgrade to bring the numbers back in sync. For most devices, there's never been a 7.0.1.

It's official: Firm numbers show firm global lead of pricey iPhone 5s

Andrew Hodgkinson

Repeat slowly after me: The 5C is NOT FOR THE CHEAP MARKET

Good grief, "industry analysts" are unremittingly dumb. And shame on the journalists for parroting it.

Analysts predict that Apple will sell a cheap phone, even though Apple never sold a cheap anything. Apple then release the 5C, which is in line with every other incremental phone update they've done - the old model gets dropped by around $100. In this case, they've tried to boost sales a bit by changing the case, probably boosting their margins in the process, but mostly - surely very obviously? - so that the outgoing 5 **doesn't look the same as the 5S on the shop floor**.

When the old model was the 4S, the difference was obvious because of size. Now we have Apple's traditional per-year speed bump upgrade (3G to 3GS, 4 to 4S, 5 to 5S) and the lower end model needs a bit more differentiation. Thus, case change. Surprising? Of course not.

It's nothing new, it's nothing unexpected, it's just not what the idiot analysts were claiming would happen and despite they fact they've been completely wrong about it all, they continue to whine about Apple's phones not selling into the markets they weren't targeted for. Despite record breaking opening week sales. *Again*.

The low-middle end was not the target any more than it was the target for the 4S when the 5 was released.

When the previous gen speed bump was released (the 4S) it sold 4 million in 3 days (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone_4S#Commercial_reception). When the 5 was released it sold AFAICT around 5 million in the opening weekend (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPhone_5#Commercial_reception and Google). My response to the 5S personally was "meh", I'm sticking with my 4S; iOS 7 is fugly and buggy no matter what you run it on, so I'm in no hurry to waste money on a new handset just yet. But 9 million people, despite the relatively uninspiring new hardware, bought in. Y'all can moan about "sheeple" and so-on but Apple just keep on winning those consumer satisfaction surveys and their sales figures keep rising and rising, so more an more people are buying in and more and more people are re-buying in again, despite the very high hardware cost.

Surely Apple never expected the 5C to be a big hit in China, either. That's what the low-end still-sold 4 is intended to do. The 5C and 5S are far too expensive to be a mainstream market offering in China, so clearly, they're targeting the wealthy. The wealthy in China like shiny things. The gold has sold particularly well. News at 11.

Nobody but analysts could *possibly* be daft enough to have not understood any of this. SMH. Why does anyone ever pay them attention? They're completely wrong year in, year out, over and over. It's almost impressive that they manage to perform so consistently badly.

Apple brings iCloud bookmark sync to Windows

Andrew Hodgkinson
Boffin

iCloud doesn't really work like that

iCloud isn't competing with DropBox because it's not the same service. It's about sync - full device consistency in as many areas as possible.

That includes apps. The iOS app model, which can be frustrating, is nonetheless closer to the likes of Palm than it is to a standard desktop like OS - your documents are per-app, app managed and the filesystem is invisible. Palm OS did that via a database, iOS does it via the sandbox, but the user sees a similar experience. It's the same idea as syncing music and video via iTunes and libraries rather than manually via files and folders. With iCloud integration, things like Pages, Numbers and Keynote, or even the humble TextEdit, can save files directly into the cloud, to be read and even live-updated - but by those apps and only those apps, or their equivalent, including web apps - on other devices / in browsers, without needing to navigate around a filesystem to discover stuff.

How well this works for large amounts of data (large numbers of files) remains to be seen. It seems very home user orientated presently (nothing wrong with that, but a definite limitation in style).

Trouble is most people are familiar with manually managed files/folders, especially if from a Windows background, so they complain and want and old-school file-like interface for this stuff. Somewhat ironically, though, Windows has itself been moving more and more to the managed model via its Libraries features and people were clamouring for something Palm-like in the Longhorn days, because of the rumoured WinFS, which would be database-style and not based around a traditional "confusing" file hierarchy.

So basically, people are just rambling on about stuff because it's fun to complain and don't realise whether they've got what they asked for or what it was they were ever asking for in the first place :-P

Apple’s iOS 64-bit iUpgrade: Don't expect a 2x performance leap

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: It'll be interesting to see how this is handled on Android when the time comes...

"Could this not also be done on various platforms and various OSes, perhaps with a bit of handwaving to account for logical sparseness of the used application/OS space vs logical contiguousness of the blocks on "disk"?"

I don't understand what you mean really... But bearing in mind the flash on phones is almost always more than 4GiB - the maximum logical address space of a 32-bit device - and given that some of the space will of course be required by the OS, then the answer is no, not without lots of trickery (usually support hardware - an IOMMU). This tends to add complexity and degrade performance. My point was, you don't need trickery or extra hardware with 64-bit. You just map stuff. You've 16 exbibytes[1] of address space! It's lots and lots and lots.

Again, there's a huge difference between physical and logical address space and those that don't understand this need to go and read up about it to understand why 64-bit addressing has nothing directly to do with 4GB of RAM.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exbibyte

Andrew Hodgkinson
Boffin

Re: It'll be interesting to see how this is handled on Android when the time comes...

Given the thread size already, my comment will almost certainly never get read, but here goes anyway.

Kids today... Sigh. This isn't about physical memory and never was, it's about logical address space.

My background is post-ARM Acorn since 1996 (the company from which ARM originated) and RISC OS (the OS for which the ARM processor was originally created, via Arthur). See http://www.riscosopen.org/ and the Raspberry Pi for where things are with that these days. I'm one of the founder members of the not-for-profit RISC OS Open Limited.

When the OS moved from 26-bit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/26-bit) to 32-bit addressing, one of the big benefits was increased available logical address space for applications. The overall OS memory map could make much better use of the 32-bit space available and applications could have considerably larger logical address space allocated.

Because of a dubious memory allocation API called "dynamic areas", RISC OS can still easily suffer logical address space exhaustion even if there is plenty of free physical RAM, just by asking for the reservation of dynamic areas - which are contiguous areas of reserved addresses - with the potential to grow to an indefinite physical size. This means that a large chunk of logical space has to be reserved on the off-chance that the application actually does try to extend that space to the maximum permitted size (IIRC the "maximum size" value used to be "available RAM" until 32-bit machines arrived with larger memory capacities - a 512MB RAM machine could've otherwise exhausted all virtual space in just a handful of unbounded dynamic area allocations, so application authors were encouraged to always specify an upper limit and the OS introduced a much-lower-than-RAM limit for those applications which said "as big as possible").

Under a 64-bit CPU, you have a *vast* address space you can use for logical addressing, so the memory map becomes very flexible and all sorts of constraints and limitations that don't necessarily have anything to do with physical RAM become lifted. There are usually performance benefits from increased register availability as others have correctly already pointed out but, as already pointed out too, the cost is the increased storage requirements and potential impacts on caches and memory accesses.

In any event, while it might not be *necessary* to have 64-bit address space in something as small scale as a phone, it can certainly be *advantageous* and there's no need to have anywhere near 4GB of actual physical RAM installed in order for it to be useful. One could, for example, memory-map the entire flash storage device into logical space without needing any of the additional special tricks required with 32-bit addressing.

Google Chromecast: Here's why it's the most important smart TV tech ever

Andrew Hodgkinson

Re: @Andrew

(It's thread necromancy time...)

You didn't; but as you can see from *actually reading* my reply, I was addressing the *thread*, not an individual.

My final comment in that reply, which I did consider for some time removing but eventually decided to keep, was an attempt to head off the next tired set of arguments of Google vs A.N.Other.Competitor wherein apparently Google aren't evil because they're "open" (FSVO "open"). Fortunately the thread died out anyway.

Andrew Hodgkinson
FAIL

Re: I only regret that I have but one...

"Yes, it's not Apple TV. So what? It also works in a totally different way to AirPlay, but I guess you skipped over that minor detail in your rush to Apple-based condemnation?"

Good grief, epic fail doesn't quite cover it.

Congratulations to you and all the other frothing-at-the-mouth fandroids who apparently didn't read past roughly the first sentence of my post, or even read its title. You might want to look at where I talk about DLNA, Android based options and Raspberry Pi.

Meanwhile Google's product is NOT running Android and it is NOT open source.

Andrew Hodgkinson
Meh

It's just a really bad equivalent of AirPlay / DLNA; what's the big deal?

I still don't see why Google's half-baked implementation is interesting. AirPlay does all that and more, plus it's integrated down in the A/V framework of OS X and iOS so it works from any A/V-based app that hasn't explicitly disabled it. With desktop mirroring from an OS X host, *any* visible content can be pushed to the TV. The audio side of things makes it even more interesting given the support for multiple synchronised devices across the home. AirPlay gaming may be a minority use case, but at least you can do it.

Meanwhile any existing DLNA-capable TV, STB, or handheld device, regardless of OS, stands a fighting chance of doing what Google's new toy does and more, though DLNA does seem to be a minefield of compatibility problems so getting it to actually work in the first place can be a big problem! But in any case, it's clear that from a software point of view, Google's offering looks rather sad as it stands.

The only advantage Google have for their very limited device is price, but at $99 an AppleTV does an awful lot more - it even has (shock!) its own GUI, own remote (as well as An App For That) and a whole slew of apps and self-contained ability for playing stuff. And when you can do neat things like using an AirPlay screen as a new desktop extension monitor in OS X Mavericks, it's clear that technology is not being left to languish. Meanwhile for around the $60 mark you can get a similar "HDMI stick" form factor Android 4 "tablet" device which will do far more than Google or Apple's devices, albeit at the cost of some reliability and usability.

You certainly do get what you pay for, but even then, the Google device looks comparatively expensive against existing competition, especially including things like the Raspberry Pi. The software is unimpressive and the hardware isn't interesting either; it recently became very easy to make things like that at such prices and I'm pretty sure we'll see a lot more of them. Google's device stands a good chance of being lost in the noise unless they make very major improvements to its software.

KingSpec's 2TB Multicore PCI-E SSD whopper vs the rest

Andrew Hodgkinson

I've heard of KingSpec

Years ago I found out that they did a decent capacity, OK-ish price 1.8" PATA SSD that would fit in a Rio Karma, so I got one via eBay. It never worked properly. Sent it back for repair, at my cost; almost 1/3 the amount of the overall drive. Came back four weeks later, still didn't work properly in any PATA device. Basically just flash errors everywhere. Just had to write it off. I won't touch KingSpec kit again after that. A dud device is one thing, but acknowledging a fault, "repairing" it at the owner's cost and sending back a still broken device? No thanks.

Google's second-gen Nexus 7 fondleslab STRIPPED BARE

Andrew Hodgkinson

Wireless charging: Saving the planet through fewer wires, because the vendor specific mutually incompatible wireless chargers connect to the mains by magic, nobody ships tablets with USB cables for data anyway and induction charging is 100% efficient, wasting no energy at all compared to wired charging.

Everyone also loves having to make room to position a 7" tablet flat on its back on a wireless charger and make sure it doesn't get knocked out of place. Or if the charger clips the tablet in, then everyone must love the extra plastic bulk for something that still ends up physically connected to the device. But not by a wire. Wires are bad now. Yay.

Gotta love those down to earth folks in marketing.

Bloke raises hand in vid, claims: I sparked Apple dev site hack panic

Andrew Hodgkinson
Black Helicopters

...and of course, everyone believes it

Got to love how some potential nutjob says "I did it! It was me!" with no evidence whatsoever (handily, he has to keep that secret to avoid "blacklists" - where's my tinfoil hat?) and, perhaps because it's Apple, every commentard thus far appears to have just swallowed the story without question.

Thus, a stream of comments about how 4 hours is too long, how the messenger gets shot and so-forth - all on the basis of one guy, on the internet, making a claim without evidence.

Citation needed.

Sigh.

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