* Posts by Chris O'Shea

81 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Jun 2007


Nokia puts Symbian out to pasture ... why not release it into the wild?

Chris O'Shea

Nokia found the way to kill Symbian ...

First a correction/clarification for a post above, UIQ3 was/is Symbian. UIQ was one of at least three UIs that Symbian was supporting up until the Nokia debacle (UIQ, S60 and the Japanese FOMA phones)

UIQ was the SonyEricsson UI (for those with history degrees there was (way back when) UI Quartz and UI Ruby among others, and UI Quartz was the one that SonyEricsson took on) and was based on having a touch screen.

Series60/S60 was the Nokia choice and was designed for "one hand use" (put your own punchline here!) so mostly for the 12 key phonepads, but also for the Blackberry style phones.

So (as I see it) the downhill path that happened was that Nokia bought out the rest of the existing Symbian partners, and then imposed the "Nokia development/project management" tools on the Symbian team. Up until then, the core OS developers were fairly nimble, highly motivated, and doing a great job with limited resources, and then watching companies like Nokia stick on a badly designed UI and create a Frankenstein's monster of a phone, with incompletely developed apps and UI, which made the core OS look poor and buggy, when it was much better than that. (I loved my SonyEricsson P910i and P990i ... did everything that the first couple of generations of iPhones did (except multi-touch), faster, cheaper, more reliably, and years before)

So once Nokia were in charge, the same great management processes and procedures that had made S60 really flaky and poor, got applied to the core OS. A key year was lost in converting over from Symbian tools and processes to get everything to work on Nokia. During that time a lot of key effort also went into trying to build bigger, better, linux build systems (so lots of fixing file naming and such so it would compile on a linux based gcc and use Eclipse rather than CodeWarrior and MS C++ or whatever) ... and this was at exactly the time that Apple started doing well with the iPhone, so all the Symbian developers are screaming "we had most of these features years ago (bluetooth, cut and paste, touch screens, downloadable apps, video conferencing, wifi, OTA updating etc.) what the f*** are Nokia up to?"

And then another year was spent cleaning up code to go to the Symbian Foundation ... taking out proprietary IP that could be licenced to SonyEricsson or Motorola, but that couldn't be released as opensource code. Rewriting IP stacks. Changing header files etc. And then Nokia transitioned to Agile ... so from about 2007 to 2010, the Symbian developers were working flat out, creating things the market wanted (like dual sim phones, gesture operated phones, 3D screens etc.) and then watching Nokia kill them off at the end of development and not release them to the market (or release them in some limited buggy fashion)

I still carry an E72 next to my Samsung Galaxy ... it may not have the whizzy screen ... but I only charge it about once a week, and it never crashes ... I have to change battery in my Galaxy at least once a day as it eats battery power, and the charger socket in the phone has failed already.

From near the end of the Nokia Symbian time I got a C7 ... lovely little phone ... reset four or five times a day and would just switch itself off for no reason. Would often reset if I tried to answer an incoming call ... so totally unuseable as a phone. I think I had a worse one than average, but that really soured me on Nokia devices.

Codethink jumps into the ARM server fray with Baserock Slab

Chris O'Shea
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Horses for courses indeed

If you want pure grunt, and want to maximise for that, then I don't thing ARM is the right solution ... yet (grin!) ... but if you are running a farm of processors, each of which is handling lots of "small" jobs (serving webpages, doing parallel transactions etc.) and possibly a farm that has variable loads (lots of requests during US business hours, quieter in the evenings) then there are a bunch of variables ... one of the important ones is how much electrical power (and so, how much airconditioning, how much UPS etc.) you need ... a major advantage of ARM chips is that they were originally designed for scenarios where using the least power possible to complete a task was a high priority (mobile phones, battery powered embedded devices, USB powered devices etc.) ... this should mean that if you compare the number of transactions per kilowatt between an ARM server and, say, a Xeon server, then the ARM server becomes a lot more desireable.

In any business, whether you are selling cloud computing out to external customers, or just running your own in-house build servers, cost is going to be important. Anything that brings down the cost per transaction is going to be desireable ...

... and if less power is used, then that's probably good for the planet too :-) (YMMV!)

And if you need less cooling, then your server room can be smaller and cheaper too!

Hold the chips: Apple axes Samsung RAM order for iPhone 5

Chris O'Shea

Smartphone/touch screen history

"So before the iPhone came out, mobiles were already heading the smartphone/touch interface way"

Yes indeed ... in 2007, 64% of smartphone sales were Symbian phones ... admittedly a lot of those were Nokia phones that didn't use touchscreens, but a fair chunk of them were SonyEricsson phones that *did* (and had cameras, wifi, bluetooth, installable and downloadable apps, touchscreens, removeable memory cards, GPS (sometimes optional), cut and paste and many of the other features that the iPhone "invented" ...


The first touchscreen smartphone is arguably from 2000 ... but didn't have installable apps ... but by 2002 (five years before the first iPhone) the P800 had added that feature too.


No "pinch zoom" at that point as the phones had resistive screens and could only pick up a single touch point ... but multitouch capacitance screens go back to 1985, and pinch zoom was documented in 1991 and may well have predated that ...


Sparkfun punts bonkers banana-piano kit at hardware hackers

Chris O'Shea
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An obvious use (to me)

Build your own TV game show buzzer system!

You have enough contacts, and it would take very little code to detect who pressed first, to light up individual lamps for individual buzzers, and a team lamp to indicate which teams buzzer was pressed first ...

... or of course you can just hack one of the quiz controllers for a Playstation or Xbox quiz game :-)

SanDisk attacks PC hard disks

Chris O'Shea
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Makes a lot of sense in dual drive systems ... but still good for most of us ...

Most of the stuff on my C: drive is Windows, Microsoft Office, Drivers etc., things that get installed once and then over the course of a year there may be a few smaller updates. An SSD is perfect for that as it is fast access to stuff that will be read very often (every time I have to reboot for example, *grin*) ...

... having a separate D: drive (or whatever letter) for highly volatile data makes a fair bit of sense.

If you are the sort of person that downloads a couple of HD TV shows a day, then you may be using 2Gb of bandwidth a day (scale up as appropriate!) ... 40Tb would take you 20,000 days (about 55 years) to download ... so if you write 20Gb a day (which is a fair amount!) then that would about 5.5 years, 40Tb would be 1,000 days (so a little under three years). How long do you expect your spinning hard drive to last? I have some that have lasted ten years or more, and others that have failed in far shorter time ... MTBF/MTTF is a statistical average, hardware fails, hard disks fail *just before* backups would have been done ...

Or to put it another way, if you have a 10Mbps download, that's about 1MByte a second, 60Mb/minute, 3.6Gb/hour ... so you could save that data to your hard drive for 8 hours a day for nearly four years before you hit the 40Tb limit (and you'd fill your 60Gb drive in under three days)

(feel free to check my math, I may have got something horrendously wrong here!)

Assuming it has good load pattern analysis (and it should) and so uses the cells evenly ... for most purposes SSD is going to be good enough ... but not for, say, a daily backup drive that gets completely rewritten every day, as it will fail in 666 days! (40Tb/60Gb)

iPhone 5 gets iPad 2 chip and souped-up snapper

Chris O'Shea

Compatibility with older phones long gone ...

"the company may cease to guarantee all iOS apps run on older models"

As an owner of a 1st gen iPhone, it's been a while since I could rely on an iOS app running on my phone ....


Nokia: Keep codin' for Symbian and Qt!

Chris O'Shea
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Symbian future

"The only reason to buy a dead end product is if you're not aware it's dead end."

I bought my Sony PlayStation2 not knowing whether there would be a PS3, and it worked perfectly fine for me. Similarly I bought a CRT television years ago not knowing that it would be a dead end product, but it worked for over ten years with no problems.

I have a Nokia E71, a Nokia E72 and a Nokia C7 ... all great in their own way (though my C7 is annoying, brilliant at many things, but terrible at others ... not bad enough to give up on yet though!) ... and Nokia want to sell probably another 150 million Symbian devices on top of the several hundred million Symbian devices out there.

There are *more* Symbian devices in use than there are iPhones or Android devices ... so if you can write a good application, then there's a larger potential market *and* larger potential profit ... so that's why you'd want to at least consider continuing to develop apps for the next year or so, to sell to maybe 2-400 million Symbian device users. Last year Morgan Stanley predicted the number of iPhone users could reach 100 million by the end of 2011, a number lower that already exists for Symbian users.

Sure if your app is going to take two years to write, then you're probably better looking elsewhere ... otherwise it's not so obvious why you'd turn your back on 200 million potential customers and the largest installed base of smartphone users ...

... having said which, my next phone is very likely to be Android :-) (or an iPhone 5!)

iPhone outlook goosed to 21m for early 2011

Chris O'Shea
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Ah that Steve Jobs :-)


CEO Steve Jobs noted that iPhone sales had been particularly brisk in that quarter: "iPhone sales of 14.1 million were up 91 percent year-over-year," he boasted – and then he couldn't resist adding a dig at the competition: "handily beating the 12.1 million phones RIM sold in their most recent quarter." [...]

Well, Gartner's figures are similar (if a little lower) and points out that Android-based phones sold around 20m phones in that same period.


(second table)

And that Symbian sold nearly 30m in that same period (so more than iPhone and RIM combined).

So the iPhone is looking good in third place :-) particularly given how few new phones Nokia released during 2010.

iPhone to tap NFC, rumours say

Chris O'Shea
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Nokia and NFC

@Steven: Nokia 6131 already does NFC, http://europe.nokia.com/find-products/devices/nokia-6131-nfc

It's very much chicken and egg, and as the article suggests, finding a killer app ... it would be possible to have your iPhone or Nokia phone act as your London Oyster card or contactless payment system, but why would you really *need* to?

Having my windows settings etc. on my mobile phone could be cool ... sit down at a terminal somewhere, have a dialog box pop up saying "you appear to be Chris, please verify your ID" and a passphrase or swype code or something on the phone itself (to stop you trying out your neighbour's phone details!) and then having my icon layout, my bookmarks etc. would be fabulous ... but is it enough?

Using your iPhone/iPad to provide a multi-touch screen for your desktop machine could also be cool ... but doesn't require NFC, it could be done with wifi or bluetooth.

Android kernel leaks like a colander

Chris O'Shea
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Not just for open source ...

Coverity and similar tools are used by many organisations (including mobile OS) to test their code. Being open source merely allows external people to run the same tools and get the same results ... but any complex system will have areas that are identified as "major" which, on further inspection, either are in code that can't be reached (particularly older code, you end up with DLLs etc. with routines that are not called because they are for, say, a driver tweak for a piece of hardware that is no longer used) or where the surrounding pre-conditions and error trapping will stop that piece of code ever actually causing an exploitable security hole.

This means that Coverity could find 88 "major" errors, that, after inspection, many of them are not security holes and are adequately trapped or pre-conditioned so that the error code will not cause a user a problem.

The good side of open source is that it means many people *can* check, and many people can submit fixes ... the potential bad side is that not all fixes are of the same quality, not all have been checked, and the bugs that are *real* problems may not be the ones that get fixed first. There are of course ways of handling this :-)

So just a count of bugs is not necessarily a sign of good or bad design or programming (but ideally there should be very few if any!) but when you have a large code base, then it is often a matter of prioritising performance vs features vs defects ....

047 sounds good to me, though it is not clear from this article whether 1 per 1000 lines of code is for mobile OS kernel, or for all apps in all programming languages on all platforms ... so as a statistic, it's rubbish! :-)

Symbian Foundation faces closure

Chris O'Shea

Foundation may be dead, but Symbian isn't ...

Nokia sold 26m smartphones (almost entirely Symbian) in the third quarter of this year, and with the launch (finally!) of the N8 (and E7 etc.) I would expect Symbian sales to continue to increase.

I have no idea if Nokia will continue to contribute to the open source code if no one else is ... but there will still be something like 5,000 Nokians working on Symbian after the layoffs, plus things like Qt which work with both Meego and Symbian ...

... perhaps, as @hyartep suggests, by not having to try to provide an open source version that's trying to please SonyEricsson, Samsung etc. Nokia can concentrate more on producing better devices.

@Neil 7, I think it more likely that rather than fund a separate foundation, Nokia would be more likely to bring some of that in-house, but I guess it depends on two things: 1) what benefit would Nokia get from having parts of the Foundaton inhouse, 2) how much would it cost? Put those two together and they can then decide whether it is going to be worthwhile.

@Bod, I think your ideas sound pretty good, though whether to continue with Meego as the "aspirational" phone to attract the Linux/Android crowd is probably a good idea too, if it doesn't cost too much ... I guess we'll find out when the first meego phone goes on sale and we can see how good it is ...

Nokia to cut 1,800 jobs

Chris O'Shea

Not all good news ...

... but what Neil7 said, sounds about right.

Symbian^4 (as on the Foundation website) was always going to be a Qt UI replacing the current Symbian^3 one, and with new apps developed in Qt (so you could develop an app and have it run on Symbian or Meego) ... but that Symbian^3 apps would not run on Symbian^4 phones ... so why would anyone want to write apps that won't run on next year's phones (without a lot of changes).

The news this week is that Symbian^3 will now evolve to have even more Qt stuff (it already has Qt but not as the UI) so software written for the N8/E7 etc. will run on whatever phone comes out next year, and the year after, and that the N8 will be able to run new UI when it is ready.

Sure this is catching up with what the iPhone did, in terms of how you could upgrade the phone's OS ... but then you've got Nokia hardware (12Mp camera, HDMI output and all the rest) plus features such as video calling other 3G phones (and not just limited to other iPhone 4 phones on wifi) which Nokia has had for years.

Finally I feel safe to buy an N8 or E7 now and know that the apps I get this year will run on whatever Nokia phone I get next year (well, I hope that to be true anyway!)

Nokia slips secret chip into C7

Chris O'Shea

Maybe because they said they would?

Doing a quick search I find an announcement back in June this year that Nokia said that all Nokia smartphones would ship with NFC chips in 2011 ... maybe the C7 came out early or is built on the same hardware as the early 2011 smartphones and so the NFC chip might be there for that reason.

But I'm guessing ...

Cinema chain bans laptops, tablets

Chris O'Shea
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Last time I went I had my laptop, camera and three mobile phones with me ...

... as I always do when I'm travelling to/from work ... and having arranged to meet a friend after work at the cinema, I had my standard day bag with me (work laptop, small zoom camera, iPhone etc.) plus my work and personal mobiles in my pocket.

Yes, I could go home and leave my bag there ... but I'd just stay home and not bother going to the cinema at all. The show times are inconvenient (can't get to a showing before 7pm because it takes time to commute home, can't go to a showing starting after 9pm because I have work the next day ... )

Just owning this kit should not be an offence. *Using* a mobile phone in the cinema should be grounds for ejection and banning. Give me a free, secure lock-box and I'll put my bag and phones in it ... but add to the cost of going to the cinema and I might as well stay home and buy DVDs.

And those of you who could not imagine how someone could be heading to the cinema after work, well, don't go to any mentally challenging movies, you won't understand them!

Android's UK phone sales quadruple

Chris O'Shea

What the numbers mean .... I think :-)

AdMob sell ads on mobile websites, and the figures are for which devices they can identify from the ad requests ... so if you use your smartphone for apps, making phone calls, sending texts etc. then you won't show up in their stats.

Conversely, if your phone web browser has a home page that always takes you to an ad-enabled mobile site, then your phone will show up in the stats.

I'm certain that iPhone owners do a lot of web browsing, certainly it's the phone *I* use in preference to surf the web. But then it's my only big screen touch-screen phone. I use my Nokia e72 for phone calls, texting, IM and email, which means only my iPhone will show up in the AdMob stats, and not my Nokia which I use a lot more.

So Apple has 75% of the UK market for people visiting certain ad-enabled websites.

I'm guessing that if the Ovi pages used AdMob ads, then Nokia would have a much higher profile!

Nokia sets Russian plod on blogger

Chris O'Shea

a couple of things ...

James 47 ... I think they meant Nokia is Finnish :-)

kurtus: when Apple "lost" that iPhone 4 and the pictures appeared all over the web revealing details of functionality that Apple was testing for inclusion in their final release iPhone 4, it led to a lot of rushing around in Apple about how to handle that sort of thing ... with the N8 I'm sure it was very similar ... that in the six months before a phone is officially released, a lot of functionality is tested on pre-release phones, and (one hopes) anything particularly buggy is dropped from the final release phone, colours change, different screen finishes are tried etc. so while Nokia may or may not have been about to announce the N8 (I have no idea), it's very likely that the phone they were going to announce wouldn't have all the same features (and same bugs!) as the one that our Russian friend "leaked".

Having worked in a similar industry, I know that these prototype phones tend to be full of debugging code (and so run much slower and using more memory) and that the chips inside may well also be prototype chips (graphics accelerators, bluetooth radios etc.) which are being tested too ... and if they fail, then there is a backup plan of changing the hardware back to a slightly older but reliable chip, and adjusting the code accordingly.

Having published a "highly critical" review of a prototype, I'm guessing Nokia had to jump forward with damage limitation ... and in a market where phones are mostly popular for only a few months before the next "best phone ever" shows up ... premature (and bad) publicity could kill a phone.

Hacker swipes details of 4m Pirate Bay users

Chris O'Shea

Registered users ...

... I *think* [1] that the main reason that people register, is so they can leave thanks and comments about torrents ... including the legal ones :-)

Though I'm not sure you can get a list of the pr0n torrents without being signed in ... but I'm not sure ...

[1] In general, I think people that leave comments here and elsewhere that are guessing at answers and what they think something *should* do, rather than what it does, are wasting everyone's valuable time and polluting the internet ... so consider this today's small bit of oil spill :-(

BBC chief acknowledges DAB flop & internet radio

Chris O'Shea

Benefits of BBC radio on the internet ...

As someone else said, BBC radio on the internet predated iPlayer by years ... I still have bookmarks to "aod" (Audio on Demand) and "ListenAgain" which were two of the links/brandings used before iPlayer for audio material.

A *great* thing about BBC radio on iPlayer is that it is not IP-address locked, so I can be in the US or Germany or anywhere else, and listen to the excellent comedy and music programmes that the BBC produces (but not the 5Live F1 coverage ... bah!)

And since my (central London) office gets internet from a European ISP, my work machine IP address stops TV iPlayer, but I can still listen to "I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue" and whispering Bob Harris while working. Fabulous. I listen to 2-4 hours of BBC radio a day while working, and have the radio on in the kitchen when I'm home ... (and often I'll set the VirginMedia box to some channel in the 900s so I can listen to BBC radio in the bedroom, where I have a cable box but no radio).

One advantage of losing the RealPlayer links is that I can now listen to all of the BBC radio material, as before only the big stations/shows got through my work firewall (Real streaming needed a port that was blocked), but now I can listen to any of the stored shows.

What good is DAB? There are far more places in the UK that have DAB coverage than a decent wifi connection, so once I've bought a DAB car radio, I can listen to 6music and BBC7 while driving, without having to pay for exorbitant 3G data connections. But I don't ... Radio 1-4 on FM and 5live on AM give me most of my in-car audio entertainment. DAB radios are too expensive, and use too much power (which I'm told is why you don't find DAB radio in mobile phones)

Nokia debuts four cheapo phones

Chris O'Shea
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Dual SIM phones

There's lots of market research why someone would want a dual SIM phone ...

... some places the voice calls are cheap on one network, and the text is cheap on another ... some areas you're at the edge of two networks, so you use the SIM that gives you the best reception ...

... some people have a work SIM for 9-5 and then switch to a personal SIM and don't want work calls out of hours (or to accidentally make personal calls on the work bill)

One of the dual SIM phones has an external SIM slot so you can swop second SIM while the first one remains active. That's perfect for things like African villages where one person owns a phone, and other people can come up with their personal SIM and stick it in the 2nd slot to make their phone calls.

For those that asked, with the two SIMs active phones, often while you are on a call, the other SIM just reports the phone as busy so calls go to voicemail, or can receive a text message.

I'm amazed by the long talk time and the long standby time, in a 30-45 euro phone.

You could charge it up once, go on holiday for two weeks, make 15 minutes of calls everyday and still have charge left! Or use your bicycle charger and cycle across Europe and Asia!

Nokia tops iPhone and BlackBerry (again)

Chris O'Shea

A couple of thoughts

@rcossebo said "I think that for the US and seriously the rest of the world, the Apple iPhone is the best bet."

The iPhone models cost around $400, Nokia offers a range of smartphones down to about $100 ... as Giles Jones said, Ford sell a lot more cars than Porsche, I own a Ford, I've owned three Fords before ... would I like a Porsche? Give me one for free, and sure. Or sell me an old one cheap and I'd consider it (I have a second hand first gen iPhone along with my old E71 and new E72).

Most of the world is not the first world ... it's India, China, Africa, Central and South America etc. Places where spending $400 on a phone is *expensive*, as in a month's salary or more (in some places much more). And "all you can eat" data plans can be very expensive in these regions. The iPhone *expects/requires* cheap data plans ... I'm on a PAYG deal with O2 for my iPhone. I forgot to top up my balance when the last £10/month for "all I can use" data went past, so it started charging me per megabyte, and I couldn't find all the apps that were trying to check for updates or otherwise doing data stuff and it wiped out the rest of my call balance in under a day. When I went to the US in March, I switched my iPhone off, because I couldn't begin to imagine how much it would cost me in roaming data charges ... so I used my E72 to check email and do the occasional bit of surfing (yes, there were times when I had access to free wifi when the iPhone was switched back on of course :-) )

Do Apple make a great phone that's easy to use? Sure do! If they were half the price I'd seriously consider getting a 3GS ...

I'm a bit of a geek, I want to write apps for my phone, could I do that for my iPhone? I'm told I can't, because I don't have an Apple MacOS computer. However I can write apps for my Nokia on my Windows PC, so that's cool, and all the tools I need are free, that's cool too.

@anonymous coward said "This really is meaningless when you consider that Nokia's main smartphone market is on the not-so-smart S60, maemo/meego/whatever they'll call it next month isn't really up to scratch compared with other platforms... and of course, Nokia's is usually giving phones away free with contracts - in poorer countries this means that they can easily grab a large market share."

Er, this article is about market share, it's totally meaningful. Also S60 and Meego are different operating systems and don't run on the same phones. And millions more people use them than the iPhone OS and they seem to do all the important things ...

Sony TVs are more expensive and better (in my opinion) than LG or Samsung or Philips, yet people still buy the cheaper ones that do everything they want ... strange that.

... Nokia don't give away anything (ask my friends who work for Nokia!)

If an operator in a particular country gives away a handset with a contract, it's because the handset is cheap enough they expect to make enough profit on the contract to cover the handset cost. iPhones are too expensive to give away except on the very expensive contracts.

Firm grows multi-touch see-through 'skin' for gadgets

Chris O'Shea

Why assume the screen is vertical?

This sounds like an excellent thing for a tabletop/worksurface. Especially since the capacitive screen should (I hope) be able to ignore pint glasses, condensation, beer mats etc. while still allowing you to tap on the menu under the touch surface or request information to be displayed in the middle of the table (3D holograms may take a little longer!)

Imagine an architects drawing board, tilted at an angle, but with either a large LCD, or a video projector behind it shining onto slightly frosted glass. Use it for laying out magazines and web pages, sorting photos, pulling up maps etc.

Grease spots, of course if this wasn't a capacitive screen, you could just wear white cotton gloves while working ... but there are ways around that with conductors in the gloves ...

... but for any situation where you don't need a display behind the touch, then finger grease doesn't matter ... e.g. projecting a keyboard or navigation bar beneath an image so you can type in your destination in a kiosk, or required house details in an estate agents ... or tap away at your sleeve keyboard from proper old-skool sci-fi usage (or in a warehouse/restaurant or other place where you might have bare hands (capacitive touchscreen, remember?) and want to be able to capture data/selections without pulling out a pad.

Amazon deletes a 6th of its catalogue in book price barney

Chris O'Shea

Yes, it's ridiculous, because it's misleading!

Macmillan pushed for an increase on the MAXIMUM price of an ebook to $14.99, for ebooks that were released at the same time as the hardbacks selling for $27.99 in the shops. They also said they wanted to see the price of an ebook fall over the lifetime of a book, just like they do for "real" books.

E.g. a new hardback lists at $27.99, after a while at trade paperback comes out at $14.99, then a mass market paperback at $7.99 and then it drops further ... and why?


Let's start with the next J.K.Rowling ... she writes a book and sends it off to a publisher ... where it joins thousands of other submitted manuscripts written by other people ... many of which are terrible, and some of which could be good with a little work.

So there's an office address to pay for already.

Then you have to pay someone to read through the slush pile trying to figure out what's worth publishing, what *might* be worth publishing and what isn't ... and often (still) you have to send back the unselected works to their authors so they can send them to the next publisher. For a major publisher, this will be several people, all of whom need salaries, health plans etc.

So you find a manuscript that has potential, and an editor reviews it to see whether they think there will be a market for it (editors need to eat too, so we'll have to pay the editor, and some more office space for them to sit in), and the editor decides to email the author and say "yes, we're interested, but it will need a little work" (that's one of the editors jobs you know) ... and at the same time a contract will need to be negotiated, and that requires paying someone with a law degree to draft a basic contract (so a one-off cost, probably quite high) and then if the author wants any variation in terms, more legal costs (again not cheap).

So the author rewrites the book, and it is then copyedited, proof read (two more people to pay), an artist is hired to do a cover (maybe covers are not so important for books that are *only* ebooks, but we'll look at that in a moment), marketing gets the book into the next catalog and distributes the catalog to bookstores, and sets up a website for the book/author (or at least a page) which again takes people, so salaries.

And if your author is lucky, they get an advance (big authors, big advances!)

And now, if it's a paperbook (like a hardback) it gets printed and bound and distributed (and a bunch of free copies get sent to reviewers and review sites)

And then, if it is like many books published, it doesn't sell out that print run and the left overs are remaindered to shops that sell copies at a couple of dollars each.

For a small press, it is estimated that the cost (before advance and printing) to produce a book is somewhere in the $10,000-$20,000 range.

J.K.Rowling's first Harry Potter book had a print run of 500 hardbacks. If they didn't sell or get a positive response, then even if all of them sold, the production cost (before printing, authors royalties or distribution) would be between $20 and $40 each ... and lots of authors have written stories about children and magic before and not had her success (Diana Wynn Jones, Diane Duane, many more) ... so each time a publisher buys a book, they are taking the risk that they are going to lose a chunk of money on it.

So you can see why a new hardback goes for $27.99, the publishers are hoping to sell enough to make back some of the costs of *that* book and prove there is a market for the paperback ... and if they make a good amount on the paperback, then that helps cover the costs of all the other books they put out that didn't catch people at the right time (the "sparkly teen vampire" books that came out ten years ago or that are being submitted now, probably won't ever have the sales that the Twilight books have)

Macmillan offered Amazon either the option of having the *new* (hardback equivalent) books at $14.99 *now* (with the price dropping over the months ahead), or having them at $9.99 but waiting until the "real" hardbacks had been out for a few months ....

... Amazon instead pulled all the Macmillan/Tor/etc. titles from their nearly monopolistic online bookstore.

If each ebook version of a hardback kills one actual hardback sale, then since the author and the publisher get a percentage of the sale price, each of them gets less. This means ebooks would need to sell maybe twice as many copies ... and at the moment there just isn't the market out there buying ebooks. One author I've seen offered one of his books free, and for a small price, and still only got 10% of the sales/downloads that his paper books got.

If MacMillan accepted that $9.99 price, they would not have the money to risk on new authors so, as Teresa Neilsen Hayden said, the supply of well-edited, selected quality books that were at all risky or different would dry up, and you'd have to spend your own time downloading the 90% of self-published books that are rubbish to find the 10% that are not, and then rely on those authors to have friends willing to spend their time proof reading and copyediting etc. for free.

And the biggest point is, if you don't want to spend $14.99 on a new hardback-equivalent release of a book, then DON'T! Wait for six months or a year and get it cheaper. I can buy cheap Harry Potter books now rather than paying the full hardback price, especially since I can buy them second hand ... oh wait, Amazon doesn't want you to be able to do that with books they sell for Kindle, I guess that explains why I won't be buying any ebooks from Amazon any time soon!

Mozilla's Firefox syncer Weaves out of beta

Chris O'Shea

Yes, some people do ...

I use XMarks (previously known as FoxMarks) like many others here.

One of the great features of XMarks is that you set up profiles (work, home, mobile) and can say which bookmarks are appropriate for each profile.

So my home profile has webcomics, social networks, TV listings, BBC iPlayer and any material I deem unsuitable for work ...

... and my work profile has links to programming resources, online reference works, TheRegister, Dilbert (of course) and all of the important company intranet pages.

... the mobile set includes Transport for London, mobile versions of things like the BBC news pages, puzzles (for doing on the train), mobile friendly social network sites, weather forecasts etc.

Samsung ST550

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up

I think it's mostly historical ...

... in the "bad" old days, memory chips were expensive ... so if you'd bought a massive 256Mb memory card for hundreds of pounds, it was a real pain if your next camera used a different format card.

I remember the thrill of buying a 512Mb SD card from Jessops and getting the price down to £99 (wow!) but of course a 2Mp digital camera could get a fair few pics on 512Mb.

Now that the price of a 4Gb card is £10 or less, it's a lot less of an issue ...

... of course my laptop has an SD card slot (as does my DVD player at home) so I'd need to carry the microSD->SD adapter with me to make viewing/copying the images easy, but that's hardly much of a hassle, especially since one of my current SD card using devices is actually using a microSD card in the adapter as it was cheaper to buy it that way than a full size SD card.

I didn't read the full article, so I don't know, but if the front display works in video mode, then it makes the camera excellent for recording band rehearsals, solo music works etc. as you can look up and see what's in the camera's view :-)

Chris O'Shea
Paris Hilton

I know I'm rare among the geeks on here (grin!)

... but I have a girlfriend!

And sometimes it's nice to get a picture of the two of you together (behave back there!) in front of the Eiffel Tower, or at a restaurant without worrying that that dodgy geezer you've handed the camera to is about to do a runner with your photographic memories (a la National Lampoon's European Vacation!)

Also, for those of you who don't have a girlfriend handy, sometimes you do want to take a good picture of yourself, better than the webcam in your netbook permits, and it's much easier when you can see what you're doing/what the final picture will look like ... and if it does a nice "3..2..1" countdown in big friendly digits, so much the better!

It's a pity the photographic quality seems not to be fantastic, otherwise this camera would be at the top of my wishlist to travel with me as a backup to the D-SLR or just as a camera to have in the side pocket of my daypack/computer bag for day to day snapping (better than most cameraphones anyway!)

Paris because that's where the Eiffel Tower is (and she has spent a fair time in front of the camera too!)

Nokia switches direction and gives away maps

Chris O'Shea

TomTom and upgrades

Not sure about on the phones, but my TomTom Go 700 gets map updates for the equivalent of about £2.50/month, for the UK and Europe.

And when I had trouble installing the new maps on such an old device, they went out of their way to send me an updated base version of the software and maps so the subscription service would work.

TomTom have (in my limited experience) good customer service, and the OS upgrades (including new functionality) on my Go 700 have been free.

@AC said "Its high time that the law required FREE annual updates, or at least limited their cost to a sensible 5% per annum of the original price." because of course it doesn't cost anyone anything to get the new map updates ... bah. At 30-odd pounds a year the subscription costs about 8% of the original purchase price, and is worth every penny :-)

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up

Windows tax? Not necessarily ...

Depends on whether you've got a recent enough Nokia phone it appears ... certainly on the N97mini page they say you can download maps directly to your phone without using a Windows computer.


Why N97mini and not N97, dunno ... but wasn't there a new version of the OS which came standard on the N97mini and you had to upgrade on the N97? Maybe the Maps with spoken navigation requires features from that new version of the OS?

Anyway, I'm happy as I just got a new E72 and that's one of the phones supported straight away (rather than having to wait a few weeks like some others!)

Luvvies make last ditch appeal for radio mics

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Down

It's not the big companies, it's *me* that I worry about

@mahatma coat and @JohnG

It's fine if you're a big company who rents out equipment and are willing to have a reduction in profits for 3-5 years to replace all your existing kit with new stuff that you make money from ...

... me, I'm a singer-guitarist who performs with friends and makes no money from this. I own two wireless guitar receiver systems (one with a spare transmitter), and two wireless microphone systems so that I can perform with a friend and we can play and sing wireless ... even second hand off ebay this kit has cost me a fair amount of money, and now I find out that it all has to be scrapped (very environmentally friendly, not) and I'll have to buy brand new equipment (so no ebay 2nd user discount) if I want to continue on.

And as @Eddie Edwards pointed out, selling off the spectrum to someone else is a false economy for just about all of us, as the money I'll have to spend to use either the new spectrum, or to get space on the sold off old spectrum is far more than any benefit I'll get from the selling off of the spectrum.

Chinese store exposes iPhone 4's midriff

Chris O'Shea

iphone comments and a rant :-)

@h 6 says that "Most iphone users are very happy with the soft keyboard" ... I suppose that could be true (the iphone is great, and so if you don't have a choice of a hard keyboard or a bluetooth keyboard, you learn to love what you have got), but as an iphone user, I'm not happy with the keyboard, and only the clever predictive text makes it useable.

@andy 115 would love a dual sim phone, so would I, but it's really unlikely as most iphones are sold on contract with a big subsidy that the operator wants to recoup, and so they are going to dictate that the only dual sim they would allow is if both sims were locked to the same network.

Of course you and I probably want it so we can have a work sim and a personal sim in there for receiving calls (and not to use the cheapest connection for making calls and the other connection for the unlimited data!) but convince O2 or Vodafone about that and we may see dual sim phones more commonly available.

Looking forward to the Vodafone launch as I've found O2 support unpleasant and unhelpful ... and I'm getting really annoyed that everytime I apply an OS update to my iPhone it resets the APN to contract (rather than the PAYG I have) so I lose my data connection until I can dig out the PAYG APN details and rekey them into the phone. Took O2 two months to let me know that's why I had no web access (but of course they didn't refund the two months of web'n'wifi bolt on I'd paid for and was unable to use ... so I will never use O2 again if I can possibly help it. I have a choice and poor customer service is inexcusable)

Nokia netbook to land on 22 October

Chris O'Shea

Locked in for two years ...

... do none of the moaners actually live in the UK:?

E.g, PC World, Dell Mini 10v, £249 plus a USB modem+dataplan, or a minimum of £20/month for 1Gb or £30 for 3Gb ("unlimited" with a 3Gb fair usage policy) for two years = £480 to £720 for the two years of the contract.

And the point of the Nokia Booklet is that it's a more powerful machine than a low-end netbook, with a longer battery life (and a corresponding increase in weight to make up for those extra batteries), a metal case and HDMI output ... and as Michael Dell has just pointed out, many experienced users (including me) look at the convenience of a netbook, then want the power of our normal machines for when we're travelling.

I'm paying £15/month for my 15Gb data stick at the moment, so if I can pay £30/month and get that and a Nokia booklet, I would definitely put it on my shortlist (it will weigh less than the old HP Compaq laptop I carry around at the moment, with it's 45 minute battery life!)

Psion founder retires

Chris O'Shea

Nokia 8100?

Martin 6, do you really mean the 8100, because that appears to be a phone released 13 years ago by Nokia



I'm sure there's a connection between Psion and the *Sinclair* computers you mention, aside from being British and in competition around the same time. Not sure what though.

The Psion 3 and Psion 5 were brilliant machines (with some flaws, replaced the hinge SEVEN times on my 3, and the ribbon cable four times on my 5 ... still I only replaced them when I decided to have a single smartphone - which turned out to be a Symbian one, P910i, rather than carrying two devices around with me ...)

... if only Nokia could produce something similar to the Psion 5 (touch screen, ran for days on two AA batteries) though obviously phone requirements, bluetooth and wifi are all battery eaters! But with a good enough keyboard and a nice folding case (I haven't tried an N97 yet, but the keyboard on all those phone/sliders always looks quite small)

Hands on with the Nokia N900

Chris O'Shea

@Rob 101

"how does that work without a touch screen then?"

Well, if you take the touchscreen off the N97, it doesn't work very well at all!


And for all those who complained about resistive touchscreens, it's nice to see Nokia have launched new phones this week with capacitive screens ... don't know what's on the N900, but I'm sure it is on the specifications page if someone goes and looks ...

Toshiba unveils new external 3.5-inch drive

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up

Toshiba external 3.5" HDD

As others have said, Toshiba have been selling such drives in the UK for several years now.

I bought my first two from PC World maybe three years ago when getting an external 250Gb drive for under £100 was cheaper than buying a 250Gb uncased drive from my local cheap parts supplier. Since then I've bought a few more on ebay, originally to get a spare power supply (as one had failed) but the "dead" drive I bought turned out to have a simple physical connector problem so I repaired that and bought another, repaired that too, and now have five that I rotate as my backup drives (when you can buy an external drive 500Gb for £30 it makes a fine backup drive)

One ebay purchase did arrive with a *dead* drive in it, but as has been said, dropping in another disk is simple. And the aluminium cases are excellent for head dissipation so very quiet in use (only the drive spinning and head clicking noises) ... and aside from that one power supply issue, I've never had a problem with either the case electronics or the drives within.

Early ones were PATA, more recent ones have been SATA. (And the PC World ones used a round four pin connector, while the ones from ebay have all used a standard barrel connector)

But they have all been USB2.0 *only* so this new drive may be the first with the eSATA connector.

Kit makers trash New York e-waste recycling

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up


Have a decent city-wide integrated recycling scheme for *all* recyclables/waste. Have the City provide a truck that will collect TVs, old computers, and other old electrical kit from outside your house on a particular day each week/month, either on the same day or on an alternative day to collecting glass bottles, plastic containers, old clothes, batteries, paper, garden waste etc.

It works fine in many other places, and if they want the local businesses or TV manufacturers to contribute to the cost, then I'm sure it will be tacked on to the prices of goods sold in New York ...

... here in my part of London, TVs are too big to be collected as part of the weekly recycling, but I'm lucky that live less than a mile from a recycling site where they take just about anything (furniture, engine oil, books, shoes, car batteries etc.) all in individually marked areas and make sure each is recycled or disposed of properly.

Would you leave your child alone with a cabinet minister?

Chris O'Shea

So out of date already!

"Only authors who plan to go into schools regularly - once a month or more - will have to be registered. And the government has said the fees will be paid for authors, provided they are not being paid to visit schools."


And "volunteers" don't have to pay for the vetting, so if the author is being paid, then they are no volunteers.

If you have an adult visiting a school more than once a month, making friends with the children, reading them stories etc. then I have no objection to a background check being run to see if that adult has a history of child abuse. If they visit a school less often, or don't have contact with children, like, say a government education minister (grin) then they don't need the backgruond check ... though one hopes that our politicians have already been vetted.

Sure it's a "nanny state" but in this case, that's the point!

CompuServe signs off

Chris O'Shea
Dead Vulture

Compuserve was great back then ...

I had a GENie account, a CompuServe account, and I was indeed BBSing back in late 1970s ...

... as I was travelling back and forth to the US, I wanted a service that would work internationally, and CompuServe gave me local dial-up in the US that I could use for compuserve email and later for access to CiX ...

... so when I got my CompuServe account, I was a big SF fan and asked if I could have certain digits in my ID ... from the Illuminati books, 5, 17 and 23, and from the HitchHikers books, 42 but didn't think anyone would read my request or care or be able to do anything

I got back 100042, 2357

and thought, "wow, they put in the 42, the 23 and the 5 ... pity about the 17 ...holy frak, that's the first and last digits (as UK/international CompuServe addresses begam witn 10, where the US/earlier addresses began with a 7) .... so they used every digit I asked, and all the rest were zeroes. For all their problems over the years, that one act of either extreme kindness or total random luck kept me a faithful supporter of CompuServe, even if I haven't logged in for ages.

But now with the closing of the service, I can guilt free close my account and just remember the good times.

Farewell Compu$pend ... I met many good friends for the first time on there, and spent many happy hours with 300 and 2,400 baud dialup.

NASA reacquires original Moon landing footage

Chris O'Shea


Unless you witness something yourself, then *nothing* can be proved to be real ... and given that some people claim to have personally witnessed UFOs, and the Statue of Liberty disappearing on that magic show ... nothing can be 100% proved to be real.

So we apply logic, common sense and rules. We find people we trust to report accurately what they experienced, we look at video tapes and photographs, we analyse things to see if they make sense based on the "rules" that the physical world appears to follow, and we decide whether to believe government statistics, doctors' diagnoses, lecturers at college etc. And very importantly we test things to see if we can find counter-evidence to disprove each particular "fact" or assertion. And if there is a lot of good quality supporting evidence and nothing credible to prove the opposite, then we accept things as most likely true. Whether it is the maximum dose on medicine or the maximum load on a bridge.

I didn't walk on the moon, but the various bits of evidence around support that as being possible and very likely, and the counter arguments that I've seen have either been shown to be false/invalid or are misinterpretations or distortions of the "facts/evidence".

So I believe man walked on the moon, that the sun will rise tomorrow and that Tottenham Hotspur didn't win the FA cup last year.

"plenty of good counter arguments against the very escapade from taking place" - where? I'm intrigued, can you point me/us at some of these "good counter arguments"?

"There's no good proof that it happened" - aside from personal testimony, photographs, videos, echos from corner reflectors placed on the landing site, appropriate direction and distance radio signals picked up from many places across the globe triangulating to the correct place, many thousands of people involved in putting the missions together, and moon rock brought back. I'm sure I'm missing a few other bits.

Tesla cashes multi-million dollar govt cheque

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up

So is it a grant or a loan?

The article (and the writer) can't seem to make up their minds ...

... if it's "In the form of low interest loans" then the money has to be repaid, so (providing adequate financial provisions are in place) it doesn't cost the US taxpayer *anything* as the money will be coming back *and* it provides US jobs, thus bringing in more tax money ...

... and the point of this money is to develop the technology and bring down the prices of "bog standard" cars to the point where we can afford to buy one.

Tesla's first cars were mightily expensive, but according to the current court case, they still cost something like 50% more in parts to build than their sticker price (something like $150k per vehicle against a $80-$90k OTR)

And obviously someone needs to standardise recharging sockets, battery packs etc. so doing the design, getting the agreements etc. is going to take time and cost money ... so it's good that there's money being advanced to let Ford, Nissan etc. spend the money on the new technology. And Tesla are producing and selling electric cars, which is more than you can say for many car companies, so providing them with low interest loans to enable them to expand sounds like a great idea to me.

W3C launches appeal to scupper Apple patent

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up

@Michael C - thank you!

so many times on The Reg we get the foaming at the mouth and the rants from people who haven't read *and understood* the point of a software patent and then drag in the "oh, I shall patent oxygen and charge you all for breathing" bit ...

... Yes, the essential bit that I needed to see pointed out is that it is a program replacing itself with a newer version WHILE CONTINUING TO RUN. Not Firefox saying "there's a new version, do you want to download it and install it before Firefox starts, or do you want to download it now, and it will be available next time you start Firefox" but actually Firefox continuing to work but it's magically updated from 3.0.10 to 3.0.11 without interupting your browsing.

I can't think of many/any applications that do that now ... and I certainly don't know of any before 1995.

Even now most applications seem to have the "a new version has been downloaded, you will need to restart Windows to complete the installation".

Even anti-virus software usually requires you to start scanning again if you download a new virus definition file, never mind a new version of the running software.

Nevertheless, I'm not sure whether it is an original enough idea to warrant surviving a patent challenge.

And to those going FFS this should never have been patented ... the current process seems to be that unless it's really obvious or there is obvious prior art, then the patent is granted and it is left to other companies to challenge it. It makes it easier/quicker/cyheaper to apply for a patent and to be granted a patent, and it is left to the community to see if anyone cares.

Microsoft's Windows 7 price gamble opens door to Linux

Chris O'Shea

@outcast why *I* want a netbook ...

... actually I don't want a netbook, I want a light laptop/notebook computer with long battery life that will run the apps I know how to use and will open the documents and files I have already.

So yes, I want Office or something that looks very much like it

"Office Are you for real ? Do you have fingers the size of a five year olds ? And how much does office cost (serious question). I bet it's heaps."

Just after Christmas the local Tesco was selling Office 2007 Home & Student edition for £49.99. Which is the cheapest I've seen it, but finding it for under £90 is not hard at all.

What I want is a machine I take away with me when travelling, for weekends, or just have with me when I'm meeting friends in the pub that I can go online and surf the web, buy train/plane tickets, use google maps, copy files to/from USB memory sticks, run PaintShopPro and Flickr uploader to put some pictures up on the web to share, plus word, excel, acrobat reader, flash player (for the youtube videos etc.) ... and has a decent media player for watching films on the plane/train. If it has a DVD drive in it, so much the better.

Is this a "netbook"? Possibly ... there's no precise definition (it's like jazz or science fiction, it's what I'm pointing at when I point at something and say "that's jazz" or "that's science fiction")

So I know how to use office, paintshoppro, firefox, etc. and it's what I have on my desktop at home and my desktop at work .... I don't really want to learn a different set of apps just because the machine is portable. And that's *my* kill app, not having to learn different sortware to do the same thing on a different device. It's meant to make my life easier, I'm not supposed to have to bend to fit what works easiest on the computer. So my netbook is very likely to be Windows. But for the moment I'll stick with my laptop.

Chris O'Shea

Windows Starter Edition

I may have missed a memo, but Windows XP Starter Edition was a deliberately cut-down (crippled) version of Windows to run on low end hardware at very cheap prices to win over the developing nations who couldn't afford a machine that could run "real" Windows XP. ... Vista Starter Edition is the same.

As far as I can tell, it was never meant to be a OS for "rich countries" to run on portable hardware, that's what Windows CE and Mobile were for.

So the limit on number of processes, the small memory required *and the pricing* all make sense for selling to the 3rd world/developing countries, and not in competing against Linux on netbooks for the US.




"Windows Vista Starter was designed specifically to help more men, women, and children in developing technology markets learn valuable computer skills and reach new opportunities. With the goal of addressing digital divide challenges around the world, Windows Vista Starter is the most affordable edition in the Windows Vista line-up.

Windows Vista Starter is designed for the beginner computer user. While it doesn't provide as many benefits as Windows Vista Home Basic, it is great for the beginner user who wants to perform basic tasks."

NEC ready to sample 'world's first' USB 3.0 controller chip

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up

If I remember correctly ...

I saw a diagram (possibly on here) which showed the USB3.0 socket as physically compatible with USB2.0/1.1 but with a small extension to the plug so you can plug a USB2.0 plug into a USB3.0 socket and it only meets up with USB2.0 compatible pins, but the 3.0 plug fits in further to pick up the faster data transfer pins.

So it's a full implementation of USB2.0 (including 1.1 which is part of the 2.0 spec) plus extra pins for the faster connection.

Of course it could all have changed since I last looked!

Vodafone gives up on roaming charges

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up

Vodafone bundles

@Iain Purdie said "I just shifted from Vodafone to 3 because of the lovely £20 unlimited data package."

I was on a £40+ package with Vodafone ... I gave them a call and said I was happy with my handset, what deal could they do.

600 minutes, unlimited texts, passport and "unlimited" data (500Mb/month) for £19odd a month for nine months (half price) and then back to full price (£38ish/month), except after nine months I could change my contract and renew at whatever deal they had then (I was offered it as half off for 75% of the contract time for 12,18 or 24 months, and then the right to renew at the end of that 75% time or move to another contract) ... and that's a data package I can use with my laptop (of course I've got a better deal on a USB data stick by shopping around ... £7.50/month for 5Gb from 3 ... but 3 isn't everywhere so it's handy being able to read email on the phone (Nokia E71 or SonyEricsson P990) or hook up either of those to the laptop for surfing using the phone as internet modem.

There are deals to be made at the moment, and the companies don't want to lose you ... find yourself a good person at the other end of the phone and let them go find the best deal for you, I've been impressed!

Annoyingly I fly to Germany on May 21st and back on the 25th and then the next time I'm due in Germany is the end of September, so this summer promo is totally at the wrong timng for me.

Renault intros e-MPV

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up

Getting there ...

With the quoted figures for range and charging time then it would easily handle 90%+ of my driving ... 99 miles is my London->Cambridge run so that's far too close to the limit though ... but if they put a 20 minute recharging station in at the A1(M) services at the M25, then I could stop for a coffee and to check my emails :-)

It will be interesting to see what the consumer price for car recharging at motorway services will end up being ... 20 minutes of 32A 400V 3-phase ... petrol is currently around £1/litre and an efficient small car can get around 45mpg so 10 miles per litre or 10p/mile ... any bets whether you'll be able to recharge your electric car for under a tenner?

And using an MPV ... "a “real world” range of 160km (99m)" ... Real world MPV is a car full of screaming kids, groceries, and that exercise bike you picked up from Freecycle and haven't actually removed from the car yet as you've nowhere to put it ... or do their real world figures assume an MPV with one (light) person in it? How does the estimated range change if you go from one 10-stone person, to a real world family with bags and groceries? ... enquiring minds want to know!

p.s. "Charged through the nose" - nice one!

Apple sued over iPhone e-bookiness

Chris O'Shea

@John and prior art ...

John, you may need to sit down for this ... Star Trek isn't real. Sorry.

And, it's 23rd century (for Kirk) so it could hardly be "prior" art anyway :-)

I am not an IP lawyer (I'm not rich!) but I believe there needs to be a "creative" jump that is non-obvious and hasn't been described before (for the development of a "real" device).

For many of the features claimed, there is prior art, the argument may be that pulling them together into a coherant single device was a creative and non-obvious leap. Looking back things are often more obvious than they were at the time (e.g. "one-click purchasing").

I do think that Star Trek however does take away that "creative jump" if such devices were being described and it was merely a matter of figuring out the requisite technology.

As I understand it, the whole thing about the patent system is that, provided you meet the filing requirements and are not obviously trying to patent something obvious or already in existence, then they accept the patent application and wait for others to knock it down.

And as has been said above, sometimes it's cheaper for a company like HP to say "here's some cash, now piss off" rather than go through the entire court system and take down the bad patent. And the patent holder has been clever going after one company at a time so they don't gang together to fund one patent search/destroy mission!

Best Buy punts resurrected Jesus Phones

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Down

@Kerberos - it's worse than that ...

"To simplify things" ... they have a fixed repair cost for the iPhones, and it's more expensive for the 16Gb than the 8Gb. In fact it's ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS extra if the headphone jack breaks on your 16Gb iPhone rather than your 8Gb one.

From http://www.apple.com/support/iphone/service/faq/#warranty3

Out-of-Warranty Service

If you own an iPhone and it requires service for any other hardware failure, Apple will service your iPhone for the Out-of-Warranty Repair Service fee listed below. Your replacement iPhone may be new or refurbished.

iPhone 3G Out-of-Warranty Service

8GB $199

16GB $299

(the "any other hardware failure" is anything other than replacement battery)

Nikon D90 digital SLR with HD video recording

Chris O'Shea

@Pat - I'm afraid you're wrong ...

The EX-F1 is a lovely camera, but unless it's hiding it *really* well, it's not a D-SLR, it's a bridge camera. An SLR has flapping mirrors in it, the F1 only has the digital viewfinder, no optical one (please correct me if I am wrong!)

Bridge Camera


If it has interchangeable lenses, then it's EVIL(!) (Electronic Viewfinder Interchangeable Lens camera) but still not a D-SLR.

Anti-radiation phone chip withdrawn from sale

Chris O'Shea

@steve anderson

Steve said "I conclude that this chip works; it's just if you try and observe it working it stops working. I think the lights in fridges are similar."


Yes, just like the "psychic" Uri Geller etc. whose psychic powers appear to be blocked yb having some reputable scientists, magicians and skeptics in the audience and checking out the equipment ...

S60 knows where you're at

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up

Uses for proximity alarms ...

Aside from the excellent use Anthony Shortland mentioned above (which I've been pushing for years) of letting you know you're getting near your stop and so should get your bags together (or just wake up after a hard day at work or evening drinking) there are several other obvious applications

1) "Next time I'm in Tescos I must remember to buy milk" ... set a proximity alarm for Tescos to remind you!

2) "I always miss the turning for Aunt Beryl" - set a proximity alarm even if you're not using route planning software

3) "Must put phone on silent" (when entering office, cinema, church etc.)

4) Put in list of all Youngs pubs and when you are near one the proximity alarm goes off so you can go in and tick it off your beer-spotting list!

5) Toll-charge zones when driving (even when not using route planning)

6) As you approach the train station on the way home, have it trigger an application that looks up what platform your next train will leave from and how long until the train so you know whether you have time to buy a coffee

7) When you leave an area have an alarm to check the weather and remind you to take an umbrella/snow shovel or just to download traffic and travel reports.

8) Have a proximity alarm set to send a text saying "I'm five minutes from the school/office/wherever, be outside waiting" so you can concentrate on driving without having to fumble with the phone to let them know you're nearly there

9) Send your address with GPS co-ordinates so that when someone is coming to visit, when they get close enough their phone will pop up the address automatically.

10) Have it scan your address book and as you're wandering around your phone can alert you if you're passing within range of your friends, so you can give them a call and drop in for a cup of tea (I've often been in Camden Town or elsewhere and only later realised I'd walked past a friends house and they've told me they'd have been delighted to see me ... of course they were lying, but still :-) )

11) Have the proximity alert send text messages to your group of friends when you're nearly at the pub to let them know you'll be in in a moment and someone should have your beer ready and waiting!

12) receive a text message from Ikea/McDonalds/wherever with a 10% off coupon and it pops up when you get within proximity of that establishment. Obviously this must be something you *choose* and not a general spam!

Samsung Innov8 i8510 eight-megapixel cameraphone

Chris O'Shea
Thumb Up

@anton ivanov - VOIP

Anton asked why there wasn't a single word on VOIP in the review ...

the review says

"There’s ... Fring's VoIP and IM application. "

Nuff said?


The display on the back of my Canon 400D is 2.5" and 230k pixels and I use it all the time for viewing pictures ... I then download the images onto the computer for further processing. I do the same with my cameraphones, and like on the D-SLR, I use the zoom function on the higher resolution pictures to see how sharp they are, to read text in an image etc.

Having said that, I'm happy with my E71 :-)