* Posts by Frank Long

36 posts • joined 15 Dec 2009

Add 'Bimodal IT' to your buzzword bingo card: Faster... more stable... faster. But stable

Frank Long

That article seemed to change the subject a couple of times.

But anyway, here's my view on bimodal IT:

Sometimes you can iterate, fail fast and work in an agile way. A large percentage of customer facing IT systems fit this mode. DevOps is the way to go for this.

Sometimes you have to get it right first time, get your requirements right, your design signed off, your Dev and test separated and pretty regimented and deploy once.

For that, Waterfall is the right tool.

Good luck updating a financial reconciliation system using DevOps, for example.

Common sense, innit? Different tools for different jobs.

Farewell then, Mr Elop: It wasn't actually your fault

Frank Long

While Windows Phone 7 arguably looked better (reception was mixed...), it certainly was not ready for the big-time.

Elop really should have led the charge for developing its own ecosystem. It had all the components, just poorly connected (Ovi Store, Comes With Music, etc...).

It needed leadership he didn't provide. Microsoft have failed to provide an ecosystem too

Frank Long

The key problem was that they chucked the existing assets overboard while Windows wasn't ready.

Maemo/Meego was pretty much ready, the N700 was a decent tablet before the iPad was a twinkle in Job's eyes. I replaced my stolen iPod and Macbook with an N800 and a Bluetooth keyboard back in 2008, with 24GB of storage. Was perfectly serviceable, and would just have needed a bit of TLC to get up to the standards of Android tablets.

Jolla's Sailfish platform show what Nokia could have had, an independent platform that was good enough at the time which now runs android apps.

Basically, if Nokia had put the effort into Meego that they put into WM , I'm certain it would have turned out differently.

Then there's the fact that in Symbian , they had the most power efficient OS out there, which still has a certain caché.

Elop burned the platforms, he took on a company that was the biggest phone company (and smartphone...) and ended up as a small appendage of Microsoft .

That is not a successful outcome by any standard . The equivalent would be the CEO of Toyota running it into the ground so badly that it becomes a local subsidiary of GM

Was Nokia's Elop history's worst CEO?

Frank Long

Maemo/Meego was ready for the big time and while Nokia were incredibly slow getting phones to market, they were getting them there.

The ‘Burning Platforms’ speech sent everything off the cliff, any chance of a rampdown disappeared with it. They had a few options, they could have made Symbian fit for purpose (not an attractive option, but certainly an option), they could have ramped up Meego or they could have cobbled together Android devices to cover the gap between a competitive Windows Phone platform and where it was in 2011.

They chose none of the above. Elop was certainly good for bringing focus to the organisation, but the decisions he took led to the destruction of Nokia as an operator in the smartphone market.

This was despite significant advantages, from an efficient supply chain, to leading cameras, to battery life and a strong brand. In 2011, Interbrand ranked Nokia as the world’s 14th strongest brand (down from 8th in 2010).

Today, they’re ranked 98th.

Next year, they won’t even be a mobile phone brand. That is, unless they launch some Android phone or acquire Jolla, as some suspect they will do.

Ericsson follows Broadcom to modem Mordor

Frank Long

Re: Nvidia and Intel

The UK used to do very well.

There used to be a critical mass of phone, chip and modem design, centred around Reading. That is now pretty dead.

Between Broadcom in Bracknell and Renesas in Farnborough, another 250 have lost their jobs in this area over the past year, Qualcomm in Farnborough are pretty much the last option left for those with a modem design background.

There were a lot of phones designed around here, back in 2002, I counted 15 companies that were designing phones within an hour commute of Reading. I now know of only 2, Vertu and Huawei. As a former hardware engineer, with a hand in the design of the Nokia N70, N80 and Motorola V1100, that’s a bit heartbreaking.

Those jobs are not being replaced, an industrial cluster has been left to rot and die.

Broadcom: If no one buys our modem biz, we'll DITCH IT

Frank Long

Re: Sad

Renesas Mobile had an LTE SOC ready for mass production last june. It eventually went into the Samsung Core LTE after Broadcom acquired it.

Frank Long

Re: No Point

The actual modem SW asset is up to date and ready to deploy in the market. If you're a company who does processors but you don't have a baseband (such as Apple, Allwinner or Rockchip), then buying this asset would give you that.

Or if you've got a chipset that could benefit from getting a baseband that is at the cutting edge (such as Spreadtrum, RDA Micro), then it's a reasonably cheap way of catching up.

Or if you're any one of a plethora of mobile electronics makers without any particular technological edge in the mobile arena (e.g. Dell, Acer, Asus, Lenovo, Sony, LG, and so on...), it would also give you a springboard upon which you could differentiate yourself.

Many who *could* buy it (presumably they'd offload it for a few hundred million), but how many will?

Frank Long

The story of Renesas Mobile is a desperately unfortunate, one of great technology being undermined by a few poor decisions.

In 2011, Renesas Mobile had the world's fastest LTE modem (SP2531) and the world's fastest Android application processor (APE5R).

It led again in 2013, with APE6 (8 cores, 4x2GHz A15, 4x1GHz A7, lead with Rogue 6 GPU, the same one that went into A7) and the SP2532 CAT4 LTE modem.

The MP5232 should have been in shops in Q2, and would have been the cheapest LTE SOC on the market at the time.

I'm sure the story of why those things didn't happen will become public some day, let's hope those who made it happen (~60 remaining in Farnborough in the UK) and the great work they did don't get thrown on the scrap heap.

Solar-powered aircraft unveiled for round-the-world flight

Frank Long

That's why the top speed is limited to 86MPH

Dell Wyse Cloud Connect: Pocket Android desktop

Frank Long

Think the point that this is a beta version is important here.

While this is distinctly undercooked, it sounds like they mightn't be too far away from something that could be worth spending money on, especially if you're in charge of IT spend in an organisation that likes to tightly lock down PCs.

Stick a beefier processor in there (say a Snapdragon 600, which would only knock up the price by a few bucks), sort out some of the more obvious bugs and they might actually sell some. Partnering up with MS, making an equivalent to Chromecast based on Media Centre and they might well be onto something.

Credit to Dell for experimenting though.


Frank Long

Re: @ frank ly - Am I the only one ....

The present USB standard limits the current draw to 100mA until the connection is confirmed through enumeration.

Additionally, the voltage is 5V, not 20V.

Boffins power wearable tech with body static

Frank Long

Re: 200V @ 4.7uA ~= 1mW

The standard current for standby on a phone is about 5mW.

So it should keep the phone alive for about a fifth of the length of the tapping time.

Probably not much, but better than nowt.

This THREESOME is a HANDFUL: It’s the Asus Transformer Book Trio

Frank Long

Re: Corporates

Android isn't too bad to manage, it's got some basic security built in, when you combine encryption with remote lock and wipe, it's really not that bad.

The BYOD trend is one that most IT departments can't ignore, but if they've provided you with a tablet, then they're well within their rights to prohibit bringing in personal tablets/phones.

Frank Long

Great machine for the corporate market, gives you a decent windows machine and tablet while only needding to manage one device. Could see myself taking it in tablet only mode for meeting and customer visits, with the keyboard for more intensive on-the-road work and docking it with a big screen when back in the office.


Three-yaarrgh! Major UK mobile network's data goes down

Frank Long

Re: Worth looking at SIM-free if you're happy with what you've got.

Indeed, also includes virtually unlimited calls + texts, internet and tethering. 12 month plan though.

Those phone subsidies don't come cheap. Get yourself a 5S for £41/month and £99 down upfront and you're looking at £1083 for a locked phone and 2 years tie in.

Get the sim only deal for £15 a month (over 24 months) and the unlocked phone and you're looking at £909, a fairly hefty £174 saving. Savings get even bigger with the 64GB model, which is £240 more expensive over the contract period, but £160 more expensive direct from Apple, giving a saving of £254.

Rogue Android: We show you how BlackBerry's pain can be your gain

Frank Long

Re: 8gb, or 16gb isn't enough nowadays, and certainly won't be enough in 2 years time

What about videos, podcasts, apps?

Frank Long

Re: £149 for a nearly android, or £99 for a good one?

A few reasons:

1. LTE/4G. Makes a big difference to your internetting experience.

2. MicroSD. 8gb, or even 16gb isn't enough nowadays, and certainly won't be enough in 2 years time. Bit of future-proofing, I've a nice 64GB card I picked up for £50 some time ago that will go nicely with it.

3. Camera, bog standard 5MP snapper vs mid range 8MP job

4. Secondary camera, 2MP vs 1.3MP. Every little helps.

5. MHL support for HDMI out.

6. Almost the same height and width, but 2.6mm thinner, and a smidge lighter.

well worth the extra money.

The Raspberry Pi: Is it REALLY the saviour of British computing?

Frank Long

Re: Mind your language

In my opinion, C should be like the Latin classes of yore. The default option, and one that, in most schools, was horrible, but non-optional.

If you teach kids C & C++* up to GCSE (i.e. 3 years), you can be pretty certain that, unless nothing whatsoever has sunk in, most other languages will be pretty easily managed.

Some schools could also then follow that on to A level, in the same way that spoken languages are taught.

Maths and programming are extremely analogous to languages like French and German. For your average British student, they're likely to be more relevant..

*along with a lot of the theory behind programming, in the same way that language learning is never 100% about just the language)

Not work! - Firmware hacks

Frank Long

Re: Motorola UK

Their OS policy was a disaster too, in 2006, they had at least 7 different OSes in development. Only thing they knew was that Synergy wasn't it...

Frank Long

Motorola UK

V3XX was the parent phone to the V1100, designed in Basingstoke 7 years ago. Development was hell, but still fine phones.

No more to add but reminiscence. Was a hardware bod on that phone.

Ex-HTC execs launch UK-based smartphone maker Kazam

Frank Long

Re: Wow a UK based mobile phone maker

The UK has a strong mobile phone industry still based around the Thames Valley.

10 years ago, Nokia, Motorola, Vertu, Panasonic, O2, Ericsson, NEC, Sharp and more I'm probably forgetting were all designing phones within 30 miles of Reading.

Nowadays, it's not quite as strong in the handset area (although Huawei, Vertu and Motorola are still going), but a significant amount of other telecoms work is done, Chipset vendors such as Qualcomm, Ericsson, Renesas Mobile, Icera/NVidia, Wolfson are still in the area, and the the UK currently leads in mobile processor architecture. ARM has over 90% of the CPU market and Imagination is the No. 1 mobile GPU vendor globally.

Then there's the UK's lead in mobile networks, and the other clusters, such as that around Cambridge. Personally, I'm only really familiar with the Thames Valley, so I'll pass on commenting there.

In summary, it's not difficult to get every single bit of a mobile phone designed in the UK.

Manufacture? Leave that to the Taiwanese companies who have the economies of scale.

Euro report slates wireless comms, recommends smoke and mirrors

Frank Long

BT Cellnet

I worked with one of the people involved in that.

i can see this report being touted as evidence for decades to come.


By the way, if there's any one group of people that should be concerned about this, it should be mobile telecoms engineers involved in test of these systems, resulting in frequent constant exposure to high levels of EM radiation.

It's the people living near Crystal Palace transmitter I feel sorry for, with an output of several million times the average mobile phone mast. The kids in the language school less than 100m away must have a life expectancy of a week.

Memo gives full details of Nokia staff cull and closures

Frank Long

The death of telecoms HW design in the Thames Valley area?

Very sad to see Southwood is to close, it was a great place to work, some great phones from there.

Another nail in the coffin for hardware development in the area, Motorola, NEC. Nokia. Panasonic and many others used to employ large numbers of hardware designers.

Now there are only a handful of small-ish sites left, Vertu, Qualcomm, Renesas.

Can't think of many more, really. A real pity.

Airborne killer robot destroys Libyan anti-aircraft missile

Frank Long

One country this article neglects

Saudi Arabia.

Not nuclear armed (although with all that money, no doubt they'd be able to get one), but with a very sophisticated airforce, an autocratic system atop a vastly unequal society and a penchant for violence.

The fact that it floats on oil keeps it safe, but should that supply be disrupted by domestic insurgency, then all bets are off.

Nokia N8 smartphone

Frank Long

Different type of Torx

The Torx screws in the Macbook Air are very unusual, I'd not seen them before.

On the other hand, any electronic engineer worth his salt has a T5 or T6 sitting around somewhere at home. They're pretty easy to get a hold of, not the case for the Air's flower screws.

I considered this phone as I've had to replace 2 phones recently, but knowing that Meego is on the horizon has made me reluctant. It's Android (+a cheapo Nokia symbian thingy for work phone) for me.

Top Ten Retro PC Games

Frank Long

Championship Manager?

Not a single mention of this time destroyer. Started playing it in 93/94, insanely addictive, if painfully slow. The record of how long you'd been playing a particular game for was always a bad thing. I didn't need to know that I had wasted weeks of my life getting Doncaster Rovers to the Champions League.

Nokia (Siemens) snaps up Motorola (infrastructure)

Frank Long

Connected Home

The only other division of note is the Connected Home division, which has been growing (admittedly from a very low base) at a rapid pace within Motorola. This could be what they're pinning their future hopes upon.

Linux to eclipse Microsoft's 'all-in' tablet enthusiasm

Frank Long

Mystic mobile


I've been working on LTE chipsets since June 2007. They won't be mass market until next year. Without people having an idea of what's possible five years from now in the mobile sector, this sort of technology can't be developed.

To my mind, it's best to look at what's driving the lowest power chips. For all of them, bar intel, they're running on ARM cores. Samsung (the silicon provider on the A4), Qualcom, Texas Instruments, Renesas, Infineon all use ARM. This is not Microsoft's natural environment, it's the home of *nix.

On the other hand, the x86 world of Intel is now tied to Meego with Nokia. The next generation of low powered Atom processors will be pushed by Intel with Meego on board.

The laptop makers have yet to demonstrate that they can compete in the mobile sphere, tablets will be where the laptop and mobile makers will meet. For those tablets that more resemble scaled up mobile phones, such as the Apple iPad, then Microsoft haven't a hope.

On the other hand, for those scaled down laptops, that HP have been pumping out for years, Microsoft are already the dominant player. It will be very interesting to see whether or not they can maintain that lead. If Chrome and Meego make a decent fist of it on netbooks, then they're in serious trouble in this sector.

Superslim iPhone 4 enough to fend off Android?

Frank Long

And Nokia?

Besides from a single insignificant mention, the author manages to completely ignore the biggest player in the global smartphone market.

While Blackberry may be the big boy in the the US, Nokia have ~37% of global smartphone sales, significantly more than Apple RIM and even Android.

When combined with their partnership with Intel, surely they must be taken into consideration when discussing the smartphone market.

They are the lowest cost mobile hardware manufacturer in the world, even the manufacturers making clone phones in China can't beat them on price. They have been written off a number of times before (When RAZR emerged, the beginning of 3G, when SE rose on the back of the T610 and P800...) only to come back.

While Maemo/Moblin might not appear to be serious contenders, only a fool would write off an alliance between Intel and Nokia so quickly, especially when it's based upon completely open standards and vast distribution channels.

They may not provide the greatest user experience (although people seem to forget that in the late 90s, early 2000, Nokia was the gold standard in usability), but they will produce cheap phones with great features that work well enough for most people.

Apple and RIM have their own walled gardens, which means they will probably maintain the gains they've made, but they're both premium producers the vast majority of people who can afford their phones have them already. Most of the population can't afford their price premium (cf the PC market) so that's likely to end up a battle between Android and Moblin. Both Linux. huzzah for open standards.

Moto claims Android cameraphone first

Frank Long

Because I must have a title, I've entered this.

Having designed Xenon camera flashes into mobile phones in the past, there are two other problems with them. The first is their power supplies, they're terribly fiddly.

The second is the triggering, CMOS cameras suffer from "shutter" lag. Makes the coordination between pic and flash more awkward.

Oh yes, the side is a massive issue too. I'm not sure people quite grasp how much work goes into making their phones svelte. The tyranny of thin applies to electronic components too...

Ubuntu open to greater touch

Frank Long

A bit of history goes a long way

Do they not remember the Nokia Internet Tablets?

The N800 was, in my opinion, on of the greatest "I couldn't possibly tell you what exactly it's for" pieces of electronics of the past 10 years.

All linux-tastic with touchy goodness.

I *heart* my N800.

If they could port the Maemo code, then surely that would get them where they want to be quickly.

Alternatively, one could just strip down Meego/Maemo.

MPs criticise 'impossible' e-Borders schedule

Frank Long

If that effectively breaks up the CTA...

...then does that mean the Republic of Ireland can finally join the Schengen Area? Huzzah! No more stupid travel rules imposed by Westminister, pandering to people who would otherwise vote for the BNP and finally have a sensible visa system for people who are not lucky enough to be born in the EU.

Will save Ireland a fortune on border checks and immigration control, now they'll only have to check flights from the UK and non-EU countries.


Tories may scrap IR35 tax rules for contractors

Frank Long

When they act morally, I'll act morally

I'm a contractor, have been for years. Used an umbrella company for my first contract in Germany. Paid almost £40k in taxes. I have little problem with that. I think returned to university, paid entirely out of my earnings as a contractor, following that, I attempted to set up a company, although I never officially registered it, more pitched the idea and put the structure in place before officially registering it.

As the idea wasn't getting off the ground, I went job hunting, contract or permie. 3 months into the job search, I swallowed my pride and went down the Job Centre to sign on.

"sorry mate, you're not entitled to anything".

As I had invested in a small apartment in Eastern Europe, that remained unlet and was costing me a fortune and was unaware of the fact that only my previous two years national insurance counts towards the dole (nobody tells you these things, it's up to you to find out), I neither qualified for contributions, nor means tested benefits.

I didn't qualify for housing benefit or coucil tax relief as my girlfriend, heavily indebted thanks to massive university fees, earned an income that was a good few grand under the national average.

Obviously, they wanted me to sell my sole long term investment.

I still had to pay full council tax in that time.

So in my hour of greatest need, the government told me I was entitled to nothing.

Now that I'm earning once again as a contractor, I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that HMRC don't get a penny of my money. I'm going to give the government as much support as they offered me, i.e. none.

4G network goes live for lucky few

Frank Long
Black Helicopters

LTEvs Wimax

@Brett Brennan 1 :

"Latency is the same as 3G, but once the pause is over, web pages load lickety-split."

One of the big features of LTE is the lower latency, down to a target of 10ms for connection set up.

"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."

Verizon is moving very, very quickly with LTE.


Black Helicoptor as to reveal any more could potentially be damaging to my career...


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