* Posts by Brett Brennan 1

54 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Jun 2009


Amazon shrinks books with Kindle Singles

Brett Brennan 1

They were called "pamphlets"

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries - before "blogging" became popular - many authors with an idea used short printed works called pamphlets to distribute their ideas. Here in the Colonies, troublemakers like Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Benny Franklin and their ilk, as well as in Old Blighty word-smiths like Charles Dickens, Rudy Kipling and others did likewise.

Why these disappeared (or became "White Papers") I don't know, but Amazon's resurrection of them is a wonderful idea. Or not: PodCasts are similar ideas, as are blogs. I suppose the real difference is getting these "blogs" into the marketplace through a more universal outlet.

Verizon to blanket US with 4G LTE this year

Brett Brennan 1

Thank Sprint/Clear for LTE!

Remember, if Sprint/Clearwire weren't actually having success with the WiMAX 4G, neither Verizon or AT&T would give a dingo's kidneys about LTE deployment.

And, yes, LTE is the future: WiMAX is a transitional technology, or something that will eventually be relegated to "super WiFi" status (and possibly mooted entirely if "whitespace" makes any headway).

However, having myself been on WiMAX for a year, it is a significant bump over *ALL* 3G technologies. How about streaming full screen 720p video from Amazon, and that with only 20% signal strength? Pretty much the same performance as mid-tier ADSL or Cable DOCSIS 3, and about the same latency. And LTE promises to be damn near FTTC speeds. Or it will be until the iPhone 6 crowd hits it...

Smartbook done to death by Apple iPad

Brett Brennan 1

And margins on laptops

The tablet embrasure, while certainly a choke-hold on netbook/smartbook sales, is as much an excuse to slow the defection away from full notebooks as a "main" machine. When many people bought a netbook as their "on-the-road" computer, either for work, school or trips to Starbucks, the subsequently did not need a "real" laptop anymore.

Now that these new "tablet" computers have entered the scene, the need for a "real" portable computer has returned. Spend the US$600 or so on a tablet (justified by replacing BOTH your netbook AND Kindle) and then spend another US$900 on a large-screen laptop that mainly sits on your desk, but COULD be taken to school or the coffee shop.

And, of course, the vendors are loving it: high-margin tablet PLUS a high-margin laptop! Sweet!

Google squirrels into human brains with Scribe experiment

Brett Brennan 1


So, if I compile a bookmarks list full of the Kip's works, will it let me write in his style too? Hmmm, there's gold in them thar hills, me thinks...

Don't get mad, get even

Brett Brennan 1

It's all about the price

Once upon a time, back in the 1970s, you used to be able to purchase components that were certified to MIL-SPEC. Identical in every respect to their "commercial-grade" siblings, the difference in these components were that they would operate in environments that were 25-100% out of tolerance to their base specifications. You paid more for these components, but you could sleep better at night knowing that these pieces weren't going tits-up on you.

30 years later, and we've gone from having MIL-SPEC as a choice to the Military requiring COTS components in all BOMs. Instead of maintaining lines of parts (chips, wires, fans, etc.) actually designed for long service, we've gone the other way. Parts that are meant for use in kid's toys, where destruction is sure to occur before a component failure, are now used in nearly all commercial (and MIL-SPEC) systems. Because they are cheap: you can buy two or three for the price of just one long-life part, and hot-swap 'em when they surely fail.

Yes, there are costly alternatives out there - high-availability systems that are 3-5 times as expensive as what is "required" for the job. And that's what you're paying for - usually: over-engineering to insure that the system doesn't fail when a component falls over.

I'm not saying this is "right". What I am saying is that, while there is a market for higher-quality systems and components in the SMB market, that same market has "voted" with its wallet and chosen the inconvenience of having intermittent outages due to nickel fans failing to paying the 20-25% premium to not have to worry about it.

You see the same thing with support contracts: companies that have a mission-critical system that has to be available 24/7 (because the company's revenue is being collected by this system), yet only a 8-5, M-F service contract to support it. Same story: when it DOES fail, you're lucky if it isn't in the middle of the night (when your Asian or European operations are in full swing), or worse yet on a Friday evening, when the entire system will be down for nearly 3 days. Invariably someone gets fired, the system is fixed, and the "risk managers" say "Well, it happened once, so this will never happen again" and they go on the same as before.

Of course, if the actual outage cost is less than the differential in the support contract, well, then you're better off taking the hit. And THAT IS the real bottom line here: someone in the hierarchy of the company has made a decision, based on data that they have been presented, that a loss situation is acceptable in the larger scheme of things. Maybe they're correct: maybe it is acceptable to lose the use of a system, or a terminal, or a store for a period of time, so long as everyone is willing to sign-off on the costs and understands them.

So that's my two pence worth. I don't like it, but that's the real world.

Clearwire puzzles over LTE migration

Brett Brennan 1

Sprint/Clearwire kicks ass!

Been using Sprint's version of Clearwire's WiMAX for over a year now - mostly on Clearwire networks (seamless roaming there). The NOMINAL speed is equivalent or slightly faster than standard US$29.99/mo cable data - and that's consistent speed, not bursty. Even in places like Las Vegas, where there are a large number of WiMAX subscribers (especially along LV Blvd at the hotels), the speed is better than the US$14.99/day hotel broadband. That's using a Cradlepoint router or the little 4G hotspot box.

I shake my head watching other folks using 3G AT&T modems struggle to send an email, while I'm watching full speed streaming video or downloading a Linux distro. Although I do have to admit frankly that where it works it works well (even at low signal strength), but when it's below 10%, it's dead, dead, dead. Of course, the same is true for 3G and WiFi...

Feds admit storing pervscanner pics

Brett Brennan 1
Big Brother

This'd fix 'em!

Force them to store 35,000 images of us old, fat, ugly guys and make them look at all of 'em sequentially. THAT would put them off their feed for a week or so!

Apple lays claim to expired patents

Brett Brennan 1

Texas State Animal...

...is the Armadillo: a tough little guy with an armored body, sharp claws on the front and back, that hides in holes it digs in the ground.

Sounds like the patent lawyers are already covered here...

RSA says it fathered orphan credential in Firefox, Mac OS

Brett Brennan 1

Chain of Trust

Pierre is correct, broadly, in the assertion that vendors add a large number of CA certificates automatically to their products for the purpose of providing a "Chain of Trust" to lower level certificates registered against the CA. This is how Mark Shuttleworth made is millions: by establishing a "MLM" certification chain.

The point Pierre is making is that there are a large number of Certification Authorities listed...because there are a lot of different companies that register their private certificates with all sorts of different authorities. In order to prevent "preferential" treatment of some sites over others, every major corporate certification root is included with most browsers, OS, etc. as a matter of course.

In reality, what Pierre suggest is the better course of action: remove ALL authorities from your certificate store, and only add them back in as you need them to authenticate web sites or other data sources that require a chain of authentication.

Of course, this assumes that you know what you're doing...which, as Pierre points out, most Netizens have no clue about.

Skewing statistics: Booze, money and sex

Brett Brennan 1
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Nice examples to underpin the empirically obvious

Maybe being a Colonist (ie, in the US) has something to do with it, but most Americans seem to understand empirically that most of what you read or hear in the press is essentially an "infomercial" for what ever group has button-holed the reporter. And it's doubtful that a politician, industry group, environmentalist or anyone else is going to call up CNN with a study that proves that they're an idiot and have wasted XXX billions of your tax payments.

Your story is excellent not for pointing out the obvious, but for giving some examples of how to QUANTIFY the obvious. While this may seem like a "Huh, what's he talking about?" moment, it's far more difficult to be cynical about news or politics if you don't have a starting point. The examples Tim provides are a great for showing what one should use to assess the validity of a claim.

So the moral of the story is: when a report is made that neatly dove-tails with the conclusion previously put forward by the interest group, always ask "What could they skew to make this more favorable?" and "Who else is publishing the same information - or not?" While it won't change the penchant for self-serving policy, it will certainly make YOU feel better!

Novell (not SCO) owns UNIX, says jury

Brett Brennan 1

When suing IBM...

...one has to remember the anti-trust suit from the '80s, where IBM outspent and outwaited the entire US Department of Justice. Obviously the SCO lawyers have forgotten their history: IBM can draw this thing out to the point where they'll not just own SCO, but the entire state of Utah...

Don't blame Willy the Mailboy for software security flaws

Brett Brennan 1

Certainly higher up the food chain than the programmer

To this day I never cease to be amazed at the number of companies I consult with that have no credible methodology for managing the running of their organization, far less managing their development process. Total lack of actionable requirements - both in the software development process - AND, more importantly - in the development of core business process and practice.

It's not the "little guys" as you say; indeed, in most organizations I visit, if a programmer or QA person raises the point that the design is untenable, they are usually frog-marched from the building in a matter of days or weeks.

Certification is absolutely no use what so ever: if the business users can't define what needs to be done in the first place, and complain about "unnecessary time spent" on things like requirements testing or design reviews, all the education in the world isn't worth dingo's kidneys when faced with time and budget deadlines.

Most companies would rather hope against having an issue than try to prevent one. Even standards like PCI are met only to the level that the audit requires - and problems are patched (if that) rather than solved.

The "Aurora" attack that hit Google and so many other high-profile companies SHOULD have been a wake-up call: if these companies all have common failings in their management practices that allowed an attack to be broadly pervasive, it's not the TECHNOLOGY that's the problem. Until that issue is addressed, software security flaws are the LEAST of the worries.

Hedge fund offers $1bn for Novell

Brett Brennan 1

It's a Windows World after all...

If Novell goes "private" in this manner, that will be the end of SuSE and anything else Novell has done constructive over the past decade. The parts of the company will surely be worth more, as you said, to an IBM or Oracle - especially if Oracle wants to kill a solid Linux competitor quickly.

The saddest irony is that, should this happen quickly, there is a chance that SCO might outlive Novell. I'm sure that SCO won't buy the patents they're missing, but there will be a bidding war between Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and maybe HP for them. MS has the deepest pockets...and we all know where that will end.

Just my conjecture. Hope I'm wrong.

Steve Wozniak, your time is up

Brett Brennan 1
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Relevant in so many ways

The Woz needs to be kept in the pages of El Reg until the day he shuffles off this 1000 mH mortal coil. If for no other reason than to keep the younger generation aware of the History of Tech - that there are many, many "minor" characters that made the world change and are as idiosyncratic as you are; no matter how pathetic, your life *DOES* count.

Hats off to a big man that lives his life out loud - regardless of how off-key he might be.

Google to mobile industry: ‘F*ck you very much!’

Brett Brennan 1

Wal*Mart model

I once shared a 90 minute car ride from Fayetteville, AR to Bentonville (Home Office of Wal*Mart) with three vendors who sell millions of items to that retail behemoth. Every one complained that they were getting, literally, only a few pennies of profit from each item sold through Wal*Mart - much less than any other channel they sold through. So I asked them why they didn't just dump Wal*Mart and go through their other channels.

The unanimous response: "We make more money, even at pennies per item, through Wal*Mart than ALL of our other channels combined".

So, the same will occur with Google. Yes, they may "screw" the cellcos, and have dubious morals with consumers, but in the end the volume will make up for the screwing and the cellcos will stick it out with Google. After all, AT&T has gotten HAMMERED by Apple and the iPhone: besides no control over the channel, the network problems that have the Feds breating down their neck. Yet they're happy to keep the few pence they get...because it's still more than they got with any other device.

'Nuff said. Off to the pub.

Google 'open' memo betrays deep corporate delusion

Brett Brennan 1

Like all else, Time will sort this

Rosenberg makes some interesting points as Cade notes: "open" isn't "open" all the time or for everyone at once. Google *IS* after all a business, and shooting itself in the foot or pudknocker is not conducive to good business practices.

Is Google making mistakes with its policies? Possibly; no, probably. Is Google doing the "best" it can do as a corporation that works in the field of sales promotion? Only time will tell on that one. Just like it did for Microsoft.

Inside Google, data drives 'everything'

Brett Brennan 1

Google has discovered the Holy Grail

As a data warehouse guy for the past 20+ years, what Don is preaching is something I have personally observed in a number of companies that have built enterprise data warehouses and drive the use of the data in their decisions. Not all of them have remained true to the "cause": mid- and upper-level managers usually derail the data-driven process when they see it as a threat to their own viability.

And it's not JUST the data. Interpretation and context are crucial to using data - especially detail data - to drive valid decisions. It's tough to build and maintain an accurate business model that actually uses data correctly. The maintenance is really the tough part: as your business changes, you need to revise or replace large chunks of the enterprise model and the way the departmental components integrate into the whole. This effort is very large, complex, and can become unfocused due to the intrinsic disbelief of MBA types - both in not believing that the data is telling the (counter-intuitive) truth, but also because the cost of this dedicated maintenance is not cheap. But cutting corners corrupts the entire process...and there are corpses of companies along the EDW road that failed to do their analysis or cut too many corners.

I wish Google the greatest of luck with this process. I hope they can keep it working for as many years as IBM.

4G network goes live for lucky few

Brett Brennan 1
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WiMAX in the US is still ahead

Clearwire/Sprint have really started the roll-out of 4G WiMAX in the Colonies here. I've gotten excellent performance (as it should be with a still-nascent customer base) - equivalent to or better than DOCSIS cable. Latency is the same as 3G, but once the pause is over, web pages load lickety-split.

Here in the States the marketplace is going to be a bit more interesting. With AT&T suffering from iPhone overload and neither Verizon or T-Mobile moving very quickly on LTE, WiMAX has a good chance of establishing a foothold against the GSM competition.

Of course, Sprint has got both guns out and is blazing away at its feet: currently there is an authentication "glitch" that prohibits anything but a PC running Windows of OS-X from connecting to the Sprint-managed WiMAX network. Sprint is giving away free Cradlepoint PHS300 wireless 3G/4G routers with the Franklin U300 WiMAX/3G modem...but these will only connect to 3G on Sprint right now. (They work 4G with Clearwire however.)

Is this a technical glitch, or Evil Sprint knowing that, with a 4G plan that restricts 3G to only 5GB before draconian overage charges kick in, they can suck some extra revenue from the punters? Given that Sprint is demonstrating 4G in the stores using the PHS300 - plainly flashing the green LED of "3G-only" service - it really makes you wonder.

GSHP: The green tech even carbon sceptics will like

Brett Brennan 1

Back in the old days...

...I had friends that were using this concept, but with their swimming pools as the heat source/sink. Made for a warm pool in the summer, though...

Just get a commercial-grade liquid heat exchanger heat pump (or just A/C if you're that inclined) and connect it in with the pool pump. Much more efficent than air exchange, and doesn't require digging up the yard. Of course, it only works where you have liquid water all year. Or a river you can (il)legally dump heat into.

Dongles pricey and pointless, says Bluetooth SIG

Brett Brennan 1

Of course, your phone must support tether...

...unlike the one I currently have. But BT + phone is a great way to kill time in meetings!

EA exec punts 96,000rpm e-car engine

Brett Brennan 1

Chrysler solved most of these problems in 1965

When I was about 10 years old, Chrysler release their prototype Turbine Car for consumer test drives in the US. While not a hybrid, it attained efficiency comparable to contemporary sedans (and remember, gasoline was running about US$0.13/gal back then) and had very, very minor acceleration delays due to turbine lag. More importantly, Chrysler had cracked the cost barriers for mass-production of the engine. The vehicle was never introduced mainly due to the need to revamp servicing departments to be able to handle the precision repairs and rebuild (the concept of complete unit swap and depot repair hadn't really been invented yet), and the fact that, other than being different, the turbine really didn't improve upon existing engine technology in a way that a consumer could see.

Alas, even today the turbine market is tenuous at best. Diesel technology has advanced tremendously in 40 years - actually incorporating many of the alloys and techniques developed for gas turbines in the process - and is built upon existing service industry practices. Even with depot repair (like airliners use when they swap engines overnight) the changes in service practices and facilities would be too expensive for most auto dealers to swallow...and the DEALERS, not consumers of the manufacturers, are the ones that really control the market.

Personally I'd love to see turbines come into general use. In the long-term this would certainly pay off, especially in simplifying the drive train, reducing weight, and making cars interesting again! (I've oft though of getting a Garrett or Allied APU and fitting it to my MG...)

Dell refunds PC user for rejecting Windows

Brett Brennan 1

Please, Graeme, publish the complete outline!

Please let the rest of us in on the "secret" of doing this! Every computer I currently have was booted into Linux before Windows (I actually remove the OEM hard disk and replace it with another drive before powering on for the first time); next time I'd love to return the HD to the manufacturer (along with the crappy shredded Windows labels on the bottom) and get a refund for the OS -AND- the hard disk.

Alpha-male Ellison issues $10m Exadata challenge

Brett Brennan 1

Eh? What about Teradata?

Since Teradata's Partners conference is just 2 weeks away, it will be interesting to see what their response is to Oracle's rather limited challenge, given the ability of @ctive data warehouse to run both OLTP and BI against 3rd normal schemas simultaneously. With lower TCO, on Intel hardware.

Reminds me that Oracle and IBM were all hot about TPC-D a while back, until everyone discovered that the TPC benchmarks were all about how well you could cheat on a test...

Nvidia halts future Intel chipset development

Brett Brennan 1

Isn't this going to prang Apple?

If I recall correctly, Apple announced just a few months back that they were going exclusively with Nvidia video in all their products. Since Apple's reputation is built squarely on having high-performance graphics as a key product feature, this might put the Jobsian sect into a panty-wringing bind. Or maybe this is what Nvidia hopes: Apple's pressure on Intel would be somewhat forceful.

On the other hand, we might see Apple's next generation with their own CPU and chipsets, or even with the next-generation AMD stuff.

Nahhhh, never happen...

New antimatter atomsmashers 'may destroy themselves'

Brett Brennan 1

"Star Trek" already did this...

Didn't Scotty have to cold mix matter and anti-matter to restart the warp drive in one of the eposides? The Enterprise certainly didn't explode or implode - they went on to a couple more seasons, movies, spin-off shows and lots of tie-in products...

RIM syncs Macs with BlackBerries

Brett Brennan 1

Pre and iTunes

"Why Palm hasn't gone the RIM route and developed their own iTunes-syncing utility remains a mystery."

I don't know: why hasn't Apple licensed the ability to sync to iTunes to other music player manufacturers (since we all know it's not hard to do) and allow other devices to use iTunes?

I guess Ray Kroc said it best: "If I were to see a competitor drowning, I'd stick a hose down his throat."

Nation's parents prepare to be vetted

Brett Brennan 1

Mind Harry Potter

Under these rules, it appears that Harry Potter will be liberated from his Muggle relatives somewhat early, eh?

T-Mobile daddy mulls US merger

Brett Brennan 1

Possibly the end of CDMA as we know it?

If DT absorbs Sprint, it would spell the end of CDMA in the Americas by 2015. With Verizon (also at present a CDMA carrier) moving to LTE, Sprint would be the last hold-out (investing in WiMAX instead of LTE). DT would certainly push Sprint to LTE, providing North America the final piece in the puzzle to get a unified standard like the rest of the world.

Good or bad? Remains to be seen. WiMAX was going to be the "AMD" to the "Intel" of LTE - a competing technology that is getting the GSM (and Verizon) carriers off their duff to actually *DO* something to improve their miserable 3G services. If all the American carriers are on the same technology, there's no incentive to do something to improve service: a move by one is immediately countered by the others, yielding no incentive or benefit to be "first"; whereas a different competing technology can jump ahead of the incumbents and claim customers before the new technology can be moved out.

We'll see if AT&T will let this go through anti-trust without a scream...

Microsoft purges AutoRun from older Windows

Brett Brennan 1

Remember the Maine, er, Mac...

Didn't we first see this "attack" back in the early days of Macintosh, where malware was loaded into the resource fork of the Mac file header (or what ever it was back then)? And didn't Apple fix the problem very, very early on...so early on that this has become know ONLY as a Windows problem thereafter?

Sometimes it just takes a Global Village of idiots...

Amazon API crackdown neuters book apps

Brett Brennan 1

A page from iTunes...

I expect that it won't be long before Amazon cuts all ties to the API in favor of an Amazon-owned and distributed application that will "lock" you into only getting information (ie, books, cover art, etc.) from Amazon if you *BOUGHT* the product at Amazon.

Apple has been excitingly successful with this concept (locking users into iTunes for EVERYTHING), and, if I were Jeff, I'd be wanting to scarf up some of that clout myself.

Shades of Scorpius - maybe we'll see the day that Google's ownership of the Galactic Library will become a GOOD thing!

Gmail in massive web outage

Brett Brennan 1

No problem here @ 21:25

Dallas, TX, USA - no access problems here. Using SPRINT EVDO network, so have a short-hop to backbone routing. Maybe this is the problem...something upstream from Google on one of the other backbones...

UK media: 'Met Office computer will destroy the world'

Brett Brennan 1

British Library destroying the world?

Already been filmed: "Read or Die" the anime and the telly series "Read or Dream" pretty much put paid to this scenario.

OFT to probe online advertising, pricing tactics

Brett Brennan 1

I say leave the sods alone

Nearly all of these so-called "tactics" can also be viewed as a benefit to the consumer, or, at least no worse than standard retail practices at brick-and-mortar stores.

If the sods can't resist the pull of adverts that demand them to "buy now, only one day left!", then they get what they deserve. Some people need repeated painful lessons to cure their stupidity.

BTW, one-day sales and behavioral based adverts are things I see as a benefit. Amazon regularly suggests items that I really *DO* want to purchase, and NewEgg has some killer deals on on-day sales. The trick, as any rational adult knows, is to not buy things that you don't want or need. If I see a hard drive for 50% off the best price elsewhere on a one-day sale, and I need it, I'll snap it up. If a book is suggested to me, and, after I read reviews and some content, I decide to buy it, how does that differ from walking past the bookseller's shop, seeing a book in the window, and walking in to buy it?

We must be very, very careful about what we ask for, lest we find ourselves in a wasteland where all consumer information is published by the government...the only place that this type of enforcement ultimately leads.

Online minor marketing law marked web's 'worst'

Brett Brennan 1

Would also prohibit

iTunes, Amazon, Yahoo! and Google. As well as Facebook, YouTube, MySpace, USAToday, and The Register, since ALL of these use context adverts that are based on "collected information" that can be cross-referenced against other public data stores.

Good for them! The only way to implement this will be to remove all internet connectivity from Maine - meaning both dial-up modems.

Morrissey tells netdepressives to boycott his re-releases

Brett Brennan 1

Nice to know that there are corporate freetards

Well this takes the cake. The very same labels that, through their attack dog RIAA, are suing the cahones off of individuals that don't pay them their 99 pence per song are suddenly looking out the window when an artist wants HIS pound of flesh.

Serve the labels right if the artists hit them with a class-action suit for being "misleading" about how their back catalog would be handled.

Microsoft at a loss in Word patent case?

Brett Brennan 1

If MS buys i4i to resolve this...

...then MS can use the same patent to shut down ALL other implementations that use extensible XML and force them to pay license.

Ohhhh, this one is going to get nasty before it gets better. Don't be surprised if Oracle, EFF, ISO, etc. don't file some amicus briefs on this one. Which SIDE they file on is going to be pretty interesting: for Microsoft to protect XML from patent abuse, or for i4i to attack Microsoft's OOXML patents that compromise open standards.

Also, hasn't anyone wondered about the company name - i4i (read as "(An) eye for (an) eye"? Or do they need to be more obvious for us south-of-the-border folks with something like "Jolly Roger Patent Trolls, LLC"?

Microsoft's web Office: No love for Chrome, Opera

Brett Brennan 1

MS losing share?

Once upon a time, about 2 years ago, I recall that Microsoft had over 80% of the installed browser market. At the time, commenters here at El Reg told the few Firefox and Opera users to quit whining and admit that IE had won the browser wars.

My what a difference a couple of years makes!

US appeals court cans CAN-SPAM suit

Brett Brennan 1

As long as there's money to be made

The ISPs are the ones that encourage SPAM. You don't see them raising lawsuits against botherders or SPAM sites. There have been what, one or two successful prosecutions of SPAM operators, and take-downs of only a handful of rogue ISPs that promote the practice. These certainly seem like "window dressing" for the real business of selling accounts and demanding more money to "block" this revenue stream.

Back in 2006 I was working for an airline that - legitimately - wanted to bulk mail opt-in subscribers to a weekly deals newsletter. Yahoo! and AOL both blocked them as a "spammer", UNTIL they started paying a few bucks per thousand emails sent to allow them to reach their recipients.

In Mexico they call this "mordida" - "little deaths" - the bites of the bribes to get your work done.

Palm slams Apple, hoodwinks iTunes

Brett Brennan 1

It's not about media sync

Rather, it's about the fact that iTunes is the defacto media APPLICATION for a majority of users.

Microsoft's Media Player USED to be the defacto standard for playing media - until the iPod and iTunes showed up. Since iTunes got the world to thinking that 99 cent songs was the "right price", rather than the paltry catalogs of the media companies or the unlimited but shady P2P download sites, it became the place for people to buy music and manage their collections.

And THAT is the issue Palm has with iTunes. Media sync alone would be a justified lock-out, but with Apple controlling the media PLAYER as well as the storage of user media, this becomes a restraint of trade issue.

Yes, there are other players that "fool" iTunes into letting them work with the service, albeit in a less than integrated manner. Palm, however, has taken Apple to task on what it REALLY is doing: forcing consumers to use its products.

I personally have no problem with Apple doing this: after all, they made the investment and suffered all the jokes and jeers when iTunes was launched. If this is for Apple devices only, so be it. Remember, Apple only reluctantly created a version of iTunes for Windows. And has NEVER created one for Linux.

If Microsoft had tried to make Media Player only work with Zune, regardless of Zune's success, it would have been up in front of the DOJ in hours for restraint of trade. If Apple is doing the same thing, and has a significant enough market share to sway a consumer by ransoming a consumer's purchases to only Apple products, then let Palm fight it out with them.

Maybe Palm is the Opera of the US - maybe we'll see Apple give you a choice of music player as part of a consent decree.

Or maybe not...

Microsoft offers EU choice on Windows browsers

Brett Brennan 1

"...five most popular browsers..."

Which translates to:






Brother P-Touch 2100 label printer

Brett Brennan 1

OSS Drivers

While very limited, there are some open source (foomatic) drivers and filters available for the Brother pTouch line from the OpenPrinting folks. While I've had little luck getting anything other than garbled dots and dashes out of my PT2610, a little bit of work on the code should get useful results for the more diligent among us.


Second unpatched ActiveX bug hits IE

Brett Brennan 1

SANS Twitter feed got this early

SANS ISC has an excellent Twitter feed that got word of this flaw out at 22:48 UTC yesterday. Well worth picking up the tweet if you have responsibilities for squashing these types of bugs: http://twitter.com/sans_isc_fast

Google Oompa-Loompas dream of virus-free OS

Brett Brennan 1

Secure vs. Safe

If performing a cold start on a Chrome OS device removes any malware that may have been dropped in previously, then the design goal has pretty much been met.

This is what will be interesting to see: while you can't stop attacks completely (it's the old arms race all over again - offense vs. defense) if you can reset the state back to "clean" then you have effectively defeated the overall threat. Whether or not Chrome will react this way remains to be seen, but that is one of the stated goals of this approach, I believe.

Now, attacking the "cloud" side is a different story. Where ever the data and applications reside will always be the Achilles Heel of any system. However, with centralized administration and monitoring - and a uniform platform to watch over - the risk of single-point failure may be offset by the ability to respond effectively.

Regardless of how this goes, overall I believe that this is a significant step forward for a mass-computing platform.

Safety wonks condemn digital TV satnav

Brett Brennan 1

Sell it in the States

Due to budget cuts, we don't enforce ANY distraction laws these day, especially cell phone use, texting and TV watching. Any day on the freeway shows this laxity...

Vodafone offers customers chance to pay for own infrastructure

Brett Brennan 1
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RE: Sprint has this in the US

Got a final answer - the Sprint GPS is used to disable the unit, not only outside US borders but also in some areas that are verboten to use Sprint inside the country. At least with the Voda unit you might be able to figgle the IP address to something useful...

Brett Brennan 1

RE: Sprint has this in the US

Checking in with the Sprint Advisory Forum members, it appears that the AiRave may use GPS coordinates to prevent an otherwise capable device from being used outside the geographical confines of the US. This is not certain, however: the only known reason for the GPS is to comply with E911 requirements, but the device will not operate if a GPS signal is not received. No one seems to know if this will cause failure outside of the US or, if a GPS signal is received and provides timebase and coordinates, the device will operate outside the US, but not be able to provide emergency services routing (as it's tough for an ambulance from New York to get to a flat in London...)

More as I find it...

Brett Brennan 1

Sprint has this in the US

Sprint is selling the AiRave device which does the same thing on their CDMA network. However the AiRave is priced at US$99, and I believe that there is an additional US$5/mo fee for use. It will support 4 connections, you can limit who can use the connection, and (I think) it supports 3G data, but am not sure (and can't be bothered to go look it up).

The AiRave is *SPECIFICALLY* targeted to customers that have poor reception indoors. While it is generally available at any Sprint store, the main thrust is to those customers that are having problems with signal at home.

Also, be aware that here in the US, there is a growing number of people that do NOT have a wireline telephone at home, but DO have wireline or fiber internet connections. This type of device is set squarely at these people to improve their cellular coverage. And, at $99, it is not that much more than a 802.11n router or other network device, so is seeing virtually no price resistance here.

FCC to investigate iPhone-like deals

Brett Brennan 1

Funny timing all this...

Funny that the senators and the FCC decide to look into this two years after the AT&T-Apple deal, but only days after Sprint launched the Pre. Also the fact that elimination of exclusive handset deals hurts the CDMA carriers like Sprint and Verizon much more than it does the GSM crowd - since GSM phones are much more readily available "unlocked" than CDMA equivalents.

To me it smacks of an AT&T move to strike out at Sprint and Verizon, to prevent the CDMA carriers from pulling stunts like the Gphone or Pre without AT&T being able to defeat their marketing with the same device at a lower price.

Doesn't matter that GSM enjoys a much bigger market share - let the market sort this out, not some carrier fight held in Congress...

Microsoft's Windows 7 price gamble opens door to Linux

Brett Brennan 1

There *IS* no price difference

At all the retailers I've been to recently here in the US, if there is a Linux netbook being offered, the price is the same as the WIN XP equivalent sitting right next to it. It's not the OEM picking up the difference: the retailer figures the extra few bucks is rightfully theirs for offsetting the costs of stocking, displaying (and ultimately having to handle a return) on the Linux derivative.

My family and company are 100% Linux based, so I'm certainly not an MS fanboi here. But, as many other posters have noted, reality is reality. MS dominates because the average schmuck is too lazy and stoopid to think through the differences.

Oh, and the OTHER reason that Windows is so huge on netbooks - the REAL elephant in the room that MS has ABSOLUTELY tamed: people are NOT using netbooks as they were envisioned, as light-weight portable devices, but rather as a full-replacement for a laptop computer. That means that running Works, Outlook Express, Media Player, etc. (the same "bundle" apps that come with Windows XP Home) are EXACTLY what they are looking for. It's not that Linux can do the same things better/worse: it's that MS has known for YEARS that the majority of home customers are only EVER going to use the bundled apps, and providing a cheaper alternative (netbooks) with the same package is simply going to fill the gap that has kept frugal shoppers out of the portable computer market.

US lawmakers call for AppleT&T probe

Brett Brennan 1

Always think outside the box...

Funny how this "investigation" request comes just as Sprint starts selling a potential iPhone competitor - with similar limitations. Is it possible that this move is an attempt to give equal competitive advantage to AT&T by allowing them to immediately grab "killer" technology for their use?

Anytime I see Congress-critters jumping in on some perceived misdeed like this I start lifting the edge of the rug, looking for where the cockroaches scurried off to. And this "investigation" would do far more damage to Verizon and Sprint - the CDMA carriers with limited device choices to begin with - than AT&T and T-Mobile here in the Colonies. Releasing the iPhone from exclusivity with AT&T would have almost no effect on AT&T's dominance - yes, it would allow tethering and MMS, woohoo - but iPhone owners would still have only the choice of a GSM carrier to connect with. On the other hand, it would allow AT&T to pick up any GSM phone (which it does now with unlocked phones from any world-wide vendor) AND put pressure on manufacturers to make a GSM version for their near-monopoly market.

No, what this investigation would really do is sound the death-knell for Sprint and Verizon's use of CDMA, effectively handing the mobile market to AT&T over the long haul. And Apple will go laughing all the way to the bank, as they will STILL get full price for the iPhone, since there is nothing demanding that the phone maker build a CDMA version for other carriers to sell as well.