* Posts by Jonathan Cohen

20 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Aug 2008

M&S shoppers make quarter of a million NFC payments a WEEK

Jonathan Cohen

Marks & Spencer take cards now?!??!

Shows how long it's been since I went in to one of their stores... I seem to recall walking out in disgust last time as they refused to take any kind of credit or debit card... (circa late 80s early 90s).

Interesting how market forces seem to persuade even the most militant technology luddites change their ideas.

Word wonks insist GIFs are really JIFs

Jonathan Cohen


I've was running an online BBS in the UK in the 80's before GIF files even existed and never heard it pronounced anything other than JIF. Recently I've heard a few (non-technical) people say "gif", but regarded that as excusable as those crazy Microsoft admins who say "sequel".

In fact I had to re-read the article twice as I couldn't believe The Reg was complaining about the correct pronunciation!

What next, people saying Gnome should be pronounced the same way as the garden variety?

MetroPCS waves wand, turns Samsung Galaxy mobe into a TV

Jonathan Cohen

@tom 38

Exactly. Given that TV works fine over existing 3G (I watched the whole Olympics opening ceremony live on an iPhone while on a drive from London to Hampshire, surely one of the most watched/streamed and network loading events of recent years), surely it would be more efficient to just write an app for the 4 users that are on average actually going to use this at any one time? If it takes off, then IPv6 multicast might be a better path rather than waste dedicated bandwidth? Presumably the seperate antenna is for seperate masts - do they enjoy re-inventing the wheel?

Free iPhone 4S deal tempts Chinese fanbois

Jonathan Cohen

Nothing to see here...

CYN 386 is approx £40. £40/month for 24 months and a free iPhone 4S is similar to most UK and other countries networks... I'll ignore the US, as their market appears distorted by lack of competition. Also El Reg is still a UK publication I believe?

Nokia promises not one but two Lumia 800 power fix patches

Jonathan Cohen

@Daniel Bower

Nokia did the same with the N97. Acknowledged the faults, promised imminent fix after fix that never worked.... Looks like some things never change. :-(

Jonathan Cohen

Bugs in a Nokia?

Actually, I've always found Nokia phones ridiculously buggy. To list the last few I've had:

N95 - Took about 2 years of updates after release before it was really stable.

E71 - Mail for Exchange (it's main selling point) could never be relied on to sync properly.

N97 - This phone was just broken by design in every respect. Even setting ring tones didn't work.

E5 - Random freezing when answering calls yet the other party can still hear you swearing at the phone!

Note that I only bought the E5 last year because of it's HD Voice support and really did hold off buying an iPhone as long as I could. However now, Nokia... never ever again.

I'll take a phone that just works (even if it has major features such as SMS delivery reports and HD voice missing) over anything from a company that spews out unusable tick box feature phones but can't solve basic issues (let alone have any concept of usability) two years after release on all their flagship products. Not to mention having to change product codes and generally waste time like this just to get any updates or support at all! I suspect adding MS as a third party really will make this even worse for Nokia.

Negroponte plans tablet airdrops to teach kids to read

Jonathan Cohen


He means market forces push companies to produce expensive and highly specified devices for the more profitable and rich western markets. Low cost/spec hardware can still be extremely useful and is much better than nothing. It just has to be available, designed for purpose and should not just be useless rubbish marketed as a "budget" option in order to extract a few £ from fools who don't know what they're buying.

This is how market forces let down the poor in many developing countries.... Give yourself an IgNobel. :-)

BTW I like the idea of these low cost machines, but I hope they don't drain other funding from teachers or textbooks etc...

Virgin unwraps three-tuner über set-top

Jonathan Cohen

@Neil 7

Sky will usually replace most out of warranty boxes for just a £60 call out fee. It would take several faulty Sky boxes (which would be my property) to exceed the £199 cost to "rent" the Virgin box. In addition, Sky usually give such boxes away free or for a low cost (which become your property, like a mobile phone contract) when you sign up, so I find this Virgin model of paying to rent bizarre at best.

Even forgetting the fact that Sky will replace faulty boxes under warranty, for a lowish fee or sometimes for free if you threaten to cancel, I'm sure those of us in the target market will have moved on and want the next big thing in 3-5 years. With Sky I can sell the old box and put the funds towards something else... or cancel and keep using the Sky box to receive regular free TV (though without most of the Sky box features).

Is it really true that you rent the Virgin box and then have to give it back, even after paying £199? If not, what if you cancel - do you still get the free channels?

I pay around £22 per month for my Sky HD box (all the channels except movies, sports and the premium HD pack). The box cost me £100 from Ebay a few years back and I've recently had to spend another £10 to replace the PSU capacitors (as it's a Thomson). If the hard disk dies then circa £50 to upgrade it to 1TB wouldn't break the bank.

To be honest, I feel I'm paying far too much for what I get, compared to a Freeview or Freesat PVR but it's nice to have channels like Discovery etc and a nice HD PVR (works fine for BBC, ITV, C4, five HDetc without the Sky HD sub).... Looking at the Virgin site I'm staggered by how much something similar would cost from them.

Mobile phones for minimalists

Jonathan Cohen

Not for the "active" and tech capable pensioner...

When are any of these companies actually going to make a phone for the more active pensioner? My farther who’s in his 60’s complains he can’t press the buttons or screen on most phones, yet needs to text to pay for parking and would also like email/internet. He also needs Activesync to synchronise the contacts with his desktop PC ( via Exchange - to save “fiddling around” with the phone).

He was seriously considering an iPad until we pointed out the voice/text part was missing. An iPhone is just a bit too small and gives no tactile feedback. Maybe the Galaxy tab but again a real keyboard would be better.

AT&T to ax unlimited data plans on iPhone Monday

Jonathan Cohen

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Bizzare. The UK prepay price of around £5 a month for 1GB (T-Mobile/3 etc) actually seems reasonable in comparison!

Nokia sues Apple over iPhone

Jonathan Cohen

If at first...

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win....

As a former owner of the dire box of crap that is the N97 and now having moved to an iPhone, I can say first hand that Nokia are in serious trouble. I still use my previous N95 as a spare phone/camera and it's still pretty decent even at over two years old. However, after using the flaky, unreliable, clunky and totally unfriendly (even for a seasoned Symbian user like myself) N97 they've lost me as a customer for life.

I'd love to know how these big companies reach their "Vista" points. The time when instead of innovating and refining they play copy-cat and as a result release a half baked, half functioning, half arsed product (like the N97) and push customers to the competition.

All I wanted as an upgrade was an N95 with a keyboard.... Instead, I've now moved on to greener pastures. From the above quote, Nokia could be one step from extinction in the smart phone arena - destined to be the low end brand for cheap disposable handsets. High volume, low profit. If they're going to play at being the new SCO, good riddance.

Apple admits third of iPhone calls in New York are dropped

Jonathan Cohen


Sorry, what? More than 1 in 4 calls fail and that's normal? In a city?

I know London and New York are similar and different in many ways, but I can't believe it's so much harder to provide coverage in NY.

Here in the UK I spend hours on my phone and travel across London on calls almost every day, with two phones on Vodafone and Orange. On Orange, I can't remember the last time a call dropped, on Vodafone there is one office I visit where 2G coverage is a bit poor, but 3G fine, which leads me to the following non technical guess about the AT&T/iPhone issue....

I have both an unlocked iPhone and an N95. In that office with poor Vodafone 2G signal the N95 is fine as it sits in 3G mode. The iPhone however seems to get confused and regularly drops into 2G mode with poor signal. On a Nokia of course you can also turn off 2G/GSM... but this option seems to be missing from the iPhone.

Could it be the iPhone has a preference for ye olde 2G/GSM and is failing to pick up the shiny new WCDMA 3G (which it seems some new masts only provide), causing the dropped calls?

Wheels come off O2's data network

Jonathan Cohen

@captain kangaroo

@captain kangaroo

"Anyone knocking o2 - No i don't work for them. But Apple chose o2 for the stability of their network. Ask anyone in national networks. Whatever o2's network is, it's stable. V******* T-***** (haha), would have all suffered this yonks ago, multiple times."

ROFL... Really? Have you never used ANY other UK network? (Hint: there are 5 UK 3G networks and O2 came last for 3G coverage (by a long way) in the recent official Ofcom survey). In addition, my own experience is that they're the only UK network to suffer from "network busy" for voice calls - not seen these on the other networks (7/7 type events being an exception) in 10+ years.

Oh right and:

1.) If I've paid for something I expect it to work. It's people like you that allow the networks to claim limited data plans as unlimited.

2.) They have.

3.) I feel pretty sorry for call centre staff, but they've got no excuse for mistreating the people that pay them (their customers).

4.) Funny, the other networks seem to still be rolling out new coverage and services.

Ironically, O2 is the one reason I would never own an iPhone. I might buy an older 3G version on Orange or Vodafone though.

NASA takes stick over feet and inches

Jonathan Cohen
Paris Hilton

English = American?

By "English" I presume they mean "American". Note to our friends across the pond, our old english imperial system is not the same as your "English" system, which is unique to the US.

Also, I was born in 1970 and was never taught anything other than metric at school in the UK. In fact the only imperial measurements I've ever used have been miles and gallons.

Note that a UK gallon is very different in size to a US gallon....

Paris, 'cos.. ummm, something to do with measurements and the origination of the metric system.

Samsung shines a light on first solar cellphone

Jonathan Cohen
Thumb Up

Genuinely useful...

... in places like africa, disaster zones etc.

As someone who's personally experienced being stuck in the middle of nowhere with a flat battery, an hour in the sun sounds a lot better than a day or more walk.

Apple adds 'S' to iPhone 3G

Jonathan Cohen
Paris Hilton

@Jean-Paul de Jong

I was comparing what appears a better product for a lower cost. I've used both previous models of iPhone and found nothing on them to convince me that they're more use (to me) than a £15 Nokia.

The interface is very pretty, but it's all form over function. I'd willingly pay 10 times the price for a well engineered BMW (or Lexus, Jag etc) than a Vauxhall with a pretty paint job.

Unfortunatly, to my eyes, the iPhone is the Vauxhall with cosmetic gloss, but at 10 time the price of the more useful (and to me usable) phone.

BTW I've also used OSX, Windows and may other OSs. I settled on Linux (Ubuntu and CentOS). Cost was not a consideration as it's not normally when I choose a phone.

That's why I don't get it. Of course if a phone is only for show and you never need to send txts to more than one person, take decent pictures or listen to music, then it makes perfect sense.

Paris, 'cos I had the wrong icon last time!

Jonathan Cohen
Thumb Down

I just don't get it.

Please someone, I really don't get this.

Teathering, something I could do with my 2110i in 1995 and with just about every phone since, either via cable, bluetooth or WiFi. Why would I want to pay extra for this? How can they enforce this, or are most people too lazy to swap the SIM to another phone/dongle?

Surely most people just have a seperate dongle or built in HSDPA these days anyway, which would still be much cheaper than O2's £ 15/pm.

3.2 MP camera. So, entry level. Even basic phones like the £ 99 cheapo LGs are 5MP now. I'd expect HD video and editing from a company associated with the media industry like Apple. So not a phone for photos or media creation. I wont mention video calls as nobody uses them.

7.2 Mbps HSDPA, seems ubiquitous these days. I thought that 21 Mbps was where most networks are heading (with 42 Mbps in the next couple of years). Can it support this and HSUPA etc as not a lot of use for teathering (on an 18 month contract) without.

3G, Video and MMS.. umm, welcome to 2003 Apple.

Also, why is everyone quoting the price as sold with an exceptionally long contract (24/18 months). By that reasoning competitors should be quoted with a negative cost due to cashbacks, free games consoles etc. What's the real cost SIM free (if/when available)? I'm still struggling to understand why people would pay over £ 1000 extra over 24 months, rather than just buy a phone outright and go SIM only - or is this still a part of the "credit culture"? :-)

And finally, it's exclusive in the UK to O2, the company with the poorest 3G coverage of the 5 networks (and the only one with no usable 3G anywhere I might need it).

I'm serious, I don't get it. I have an E71 for email and a 2 year old N95 and would love to find something nice to replace them. At the moment this looks like an N97. At a cost of less than £500 SIM free this would save me around £ 1000 over the iPhone+contract over 18 months, yet it appears a much more capable phone. I mean, the iPhone doesn't even have an FM transmitter, something even the N85 has? On a "music phone"? WTF?

Paris, 'cos have you seen the cost of using any phone with data there!

Paris loses her BlackBerry in Cannes hotel

Jonathan Cohen

Remote wipe via BIS?

Knowing most celebs, they normally appear to be using Blackberrys with BIS, not enterprise BES (which is understandable given the way these things are provided by the networks on "VIP" tarrifs etc)... and BIS appears to have no remote wipe/contacts sync. If I was her I'd be looking at the network or company that supplied it for security advise. Anyway, have you ever tried to get BES enabled on a personal Blackberry?

What she needs is a Nokia E71. One text to the phone with a secret word and the phone will lock and encrypt the memory card.

My coats the one with two unused Blackberrys that I could find no way to secure or remote sync without paying many thousands of pounds each (minimum business terms for BES on most networks - Orange I'm refering especially to you - are 10 handsets - and each was for a different person who only needed one) for handsets and services we didn't want or need.

Brum laid bare on OpenStreetMap

Jonathan Cohen
Thumb Up

Not just the UK

All maps are a work in progress and it appears that Openstreetmap have a large part of the mapping community working for them. Seriously, this is amazing progress and it wouldn't surprise me to find in a few years they have a more accurate and comprehensive atlas than any commercial product.

Openstreetmap is already the only accurate source of digital mapping data for parts of Africa. Fantastic stuff.

Nokia unveils N79 and N85 smartphones

Jonathan Cohen
Jobs Horns

Speed issues caused by network branding

In my experience, most of the speed issues appear to be due to operator "branding" with poor add-ons (the Orange "home screen" for example). These remove features and cripple the phone and the operators own firmware updates won't cure this.

My N95 was utter pants untill debranded. I did that 6 months ago and would only consider another N series now.