* Posts by Alan Watson

38 posts • joined 1 Jul 2008

Google experiments with user-choice-defying Android search box

Alan Watson

Re: Ban the Blob

Less greedy? No, Apple's greed just manifests in different ways (such as not allowing you to do things that other platforms do using open standards, only offering longer-winded ways or things that only work between Apple devices so that their users get locked in).

Google and Apple are not as different as their supporters claim.

Alan Watson

Re: Question

But an advantage of disabling the Google app is that you will never be prompted to enable Assistant again (doing which also changes all of your Google account settings to let Google log absolutely everything, changes which are of course not undone if you turn Assistant off again).

I didn't know that Google require this thing for a smartwatch to work, but it is very in character of them to do that. Misleading pop-ups to tell you that you need to enable things in order to make something work that aren't needed at all is another of their favourites.

Facebook: Remember how we promised we weren’t tracking your location? Psych! Can't believe you fell for that

Alan Watson

Small correction re. Android

You say that a feature that notifies you when an app accesses your location "will be added to Android 10". In fact it's already in Android 10, and those of us who joined the beta programme have had this for some time now. Of course it will be next year before Samsungs get it, but that's because Samsung are slow with these things. So the particular cat you describe has been out of the bag for a while.

Peak Apple: This time it's SERIOUS, Tim

Alan Watson

Re: "and failed to honour the cynical tradition of built-in obsolescence"

Er, the fact that the processor is called "i7" doesn't mean that it's the same processor as in 2012. That's just intel's branding - it's like saying that an Android phone is using the same processor as in 2012 because they are both called "Snapdragon". The part number is the bit that matters.

Actually the screens aren't the same either: having the same resolution doesn't mean that other properties haven't changed.

If you want to criticise Apple the correct target is their ridiculous costs for RAM and storage upgrades, which have remained constant for several years. But don't make a fool of yourself by suggesting that they are using the same processors as they were 6 years ago.

Full frontal vulnerability: Photos can still trick, unlock Android mobes via facial recognition

Alan Watson

Re: Stupid idea in the US

I just tested: 5 failed attempts and it tells you to enter the PIN or try again later.

Apple breathes new life into MacBook Air with overhauled 2018 model

Alan Watson

Actually it's the non-Touchbar 13" pro whose place I would question. That's still the 2017 machine, complete with only a dual core cpu and earlier generation keyboard, but at the same price it commanded when newly released. It also has a single fan (the touchbar models always had 2, even for the same cpu), a weaker WiFi unit, and of course the same smaller number of ports that the Air has (just 2). Maybe a year ago, when the touchbar models had the same cpus and keyboards, you might have felt that the other compromises were worth it to save a little money, but with the same prices this year and a more significant spec difference I'd question its value.

So personally I'd say buy the touchbar model if you need the extra power of the Pro, buy the Air if you don't.

Apple's launch confirms one thing: It's determined to kill off the laptop for iPads

Alan Watson


"But it loses key ports – including the SD card port and the old Thunderbolt port – which people have typically used to transfer video and audio files and attach peripherals."

Do you know anyone who attaches peripherals natively to the old Thunderbolt port, as opposed to via an adapter?

No, nor do I. So you are living the dongle life either way, with the big differences being the availability of multifunction dongles for USB-C, and the fact that native peripherals will doubtless become more available than they ever were for the old port.

Anyway, anyone who thought Apple would do anything else must have been living in a cave for the last 3 years. By far the most interesting change is them removing the proprietary Lightning port from the iPad Pro: since that port collects a license fee from every peripheral made for it, and at the same time ensures that those peripherals remain incompatible with other manufacturers' products, I found Apple adopting an open standard there (even if it is the same as their laptops use) genuinely surprising.

Google Pixel 2 XL: Like paying Apple-tier prices then saying, hey, please help yourself to my data

Alan Watson

Re: It's not for me then...

Except of course you can turn off the always listening stuff. And the "now playing" feature, which the reviewer said this about, is local to the device: it uses a database of signatures on the phone and does not communicate with Google servers (it even works in airplane mode). But you can turn it off anyway.

Of course if you actually want it to respond to "OK google" then it will have to listen for the keyword, but that's the same as any other voice-activated assistant (including the fact that it only starts to send data after it detects the keyword). And that can all be disabled as well (forget incompetents on reddit saying they can't, they obviously just don't know how to do it).

Andy Rubin's overhyped and underdelivered Essential phone out 'in a few weeks'

Alan Watson

Re: Care? I've never even heard of it.

Except it's not crowdfunded, and nobody has been asked to part with any money for it yet.

Nice try, but when you know nothing it really is better to say nothing.

Much-hyped Ara Blackphone LeEco Essential handset introduced

Alan Watson

Yeah, terrible price: less than the 128GB Pixel (if you can get hold of one) while using more expensive materials, newer components and not having the depth of pocket or economy of scale of that device.

Alan Watson

Re: Design by numbers

So you will only buy an LG V20? Because apart from that it's only a diminishing number of budget handsets that still have removable batteries (and who wants to bet on the V30 still having one?).

It's all Me, Me, Me! in Doctor Who's The Woman Who Lived but what of Clara's fate?

Alan Watson

Re: Osgood is back !

Or... the Osgood we get next week may be the Zygon. Who knows (pun intended)?

HTC's new One A9 will gulp Android updates days after Nexus mobes

Alan Watson

Re: "Unlocked Edition"

My understanding is not unlocked out of the box but unlockable without that voiding the warranty.

Most HTCs have had user-unlockable bootloaders for a long time (except where a mobile carrier has changed that on their version of the handset). It's the second part, an official statement that you can unlock without threatening the warranty, that is new.

Climate change alarmism is a religious belief – it's official

Alan Watson

Re: Ha! - but in the end the pope adds nothing of value to the debate

"The actual scientists seem to be drowned out while politicians and green nutters seem to be running the output."

Except that all of the actual scientists are on one side of this "debate". Lewis puts a lot of effort into his confirmation bias, but the strain of pretending that a few paid company shills are doing real science, carefully selecting data out of context and telling himself that he's seeing the true picture, must be taking a toll on him. Reading his stuff is getting to be like listening to some minor Republican stridently denouncing homosexuality - there's something he's trying very, very hard not to face up to.

Large Hadron Collider gives young ALICE a black-hole ray gun

Alan Watson

Not actually new, you know

You do realise that the ALICE experiment was also there throughout Run 1?

True optical zoom coming to HTC smartphone cameras

Alan Watson

Given that phone cameras don't yet even have adjustable apertures, I don't think that SLRs have a lot to worry about yet.

Steelie Neelie 'shocked' that EU tourists turn mobes off when abroad

Alan Watson

Re: It's not phone calls, it's data

But let's be fair, most people wouldn't want to get hit for €50 because their phone was updating weather forecasts in the background, so it's safer to disable data roaming altogether.

And as you can generally get WiFi at airports and hotels, often free, it's probably no great hardship for most either. The big threat is that if people realise it doesn't matter that they aren't instantly notified when a stranger makes an inane comment about their rather dull photo on facebook they might re-engage with real life, and then where would we all be?

Google's SECRET contracts: Android lock-in REVEALED!

Alan Watson

Re: I just wish I could remove the ****ing Facebook app

Disable it (Settings > Apps > All, select Facebook, press the "disable" button). Assuming you are running Android 4.x, that is.

Then it can't run, disappears from your app drawer, won't update. It's still in the /system partition, but then as user apps go to a different partition you'd not gain space for your own apps or data by removing it, so for all practical purposes the result is the same as uninstalling.

John McAfee declares war on Android

Alan Watson

There are already plenty of apps which can do this.

So what's the difference? The McAffee name?? For anyone who's experienced their PC software that won't be a selling point...

Rotten to the core: Apple’s 10 greatest FAILS

Alan Watson

Early '90s "pre-internet"??

The internet didn't start when journalists got connected.

Pre widespread domestic internet would have been acceptable, but for a tech site this was a bit of a fail.

HTC looks to cheaper phones as revenues wane

Alan Watson

The MTP thing isn't HTC's choice: Google did that several Android versions ago.

Of course if you have a removable SD card you can take that out and put it in a card reader, but don't expect the phone itself to work as a USB mass storage device whether you have a removable card or not, whoever makes it. Unless, that is, you can persuade Google to change their policy, but they are not famous for listening.

Mobe-makers' BLOATWARE is Android's Achilles heel

Alan Watson

Why list by manufacturer?

If the problem is carrier bloatware, surely listing vulnerabilities and excessive privileges by carrier would be more relevant than by which handset/manufacturer they've put them into?

Boffins create tabletop ANTIMATTER GUN

Alan Watson

Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

Given that it takes a lot more energy to make the antimatter than you get out of it annihilating, you're not likely to see an antimatter reactor ever.

If you have unlimited energy to spare, antimatter could make a very intense energy _store_, but it will never be an energy _source_. Coal and uranium work for that purpose because you can just dig them out of the ground - if you had to make them yourself first it would be a different story ;)

Alan Watson

Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

The laser itself would do a pretty good job of that...

Android is a mess and needs sprucing up, admits chief

Alan Watson

Well Google don't make their money from licensing (as Microsoft do) but from advertising.

As for the Intel comparison, how are ARM and Qualcomm doing out of Android? I suspect not too badly.

Review: Samsung Galaxy S4

Alan Watson

No Exynos in the US

Actually the US only have the same Qualcomm model as the UK (with variants for different networks). No Exynos models there apart from grey market imports.

Brit physics student debuts zombie flick shot inside LHC

Alan Watson

The real inspiration


Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7in Android tablet review

Alan Watson

Not actually cheaper

You finish by saying that it's cheaper than the competition and offers twice the storage. Well if you define the competition as a 16GB iPad Mini that is correct. But if you take the obvious comparison - the Nexus 7 - it's the same price and has the same storage.

The only reason I can see why this will sell is that the front-page promotion on Amazon will push it to people who've never heard of the Nexus.

Samsung says 'yes' to iPhone 5-sized Galaxy S III

Alan Watson

The obvious comparison for a 4" Samsung would be the Nexus S rather than the iP5. But 4" is just the new budget-to-midrange size right now: HTC started selling the 4" Desire X this week, for example, though sounds like Sammy are claiming this one will be higher spec (not yet checked that Engadget link).

Google Nexus 7 Android tablet

Alan Watson

Pros, cons and corrections

The article cites 4.1 as a possible drawback, but fails to mention that most apps written for earlier Android versions will work perfectly well on it.

Comparisons with the Kindle Fire and Amazon's content library miss the point. Sure, Google *want* you to get your media from the Play Store, but there's nothing to stop you installing Kindle apps or even (if you live in the USA) the Amazon App Store on the Nexus. In contrast you need to root the Fire to get past the Amazon lock in. So I don't see any advantage to the Fire here.

Having said that, some of us do need more than 16GB, which is where Google seem to have a blind spot (the Galaxy Nexus is the same).

HTC stimulates Sense with snap-happy One series

Alan Watson


Actually the S has an AMOLED, at least according to the reports (HTCs own site seems not to want to discuss display technology), The X however is TFT.

Alan Watson

Re: Ville?

The "S" is the Ville.

Alan Watson

User storage...

No card slot in any of them, so just the built-in storage. Could probably cope with the X's 32GB, but 16GB for the S is too little (I'm using a 32GB card in my Desire), and 4GB in the V???

They've cut a deal with dropbox, but that's not the same as having stuff actually on your phone (when you are in a weak signal area, have a limited data bundle, are abroad, or just plain don't want to wait while you shuffle music between phone and cloud). Seems to be a trend with a lot of recent androids, and not a good one.

Laptop display pixel counts to quadruple in 2012

Alan Watson

15' Macbook Pro displays max out at 1440x900 do they? So the 2 year old 15" 1680x1050 I'm using must be a fake then...

Vote now for the best sci-fi film never made

Alan Watson

Best Mini-Series Never Made

Some of these could work well as films (Altered Carbon for example), but many really need a bit more space to breath and not be compressed into an incoherent rush.

So if anyone from HBO is reading this, how about a 6-10 episode version of Consider Phlebas?

Pictures of Ubuntu: Linux's best photo shots at Windows and Mac

Alan Watson

Not just for linux

RawTherapee is cross-platform - I also run it on an old Windows XP box.

It's free, but if you use it do make a donation to the developer (who I have no connection to).

Slimline iPhone pictures unearthed

Alan Watson
Thumb Down

Early April Fools

That's my guess - someone's playing a joke on the gadget sites and it's got out a day early.

Though it would be in line with Apple's attitude to comments on their products:

"You don't give enough mouse buttons"

- we'll get rid of them completely

"We don't want a phone with a fixed battery"

- you can have laptops with fixed batteries as well

In which case this model would be the answer to complaints that the iPhone 3G doesn't have enough battery life - a version which has no battery life at all..

Nikon unveils mid-range pro-friendly DSLR

Alan Watson

D300 "Entry Level"???

Nikon's "entry level" SLRs are the D40 and D60 - the D300 was one from the top, below the D3, until the D700 was announced (and still is if you want to buy one this month).

Now if you are offering to sell one at an entry level price, you have my email address :)


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