* Posts by fuzzie

184 posts • joined 1 Feb 2012

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Rich Communication Services: Nobody uses it, nobody wants it, but analysts reckon it's on the verge of a breakthrough

fuzzie
Meh

An Aternal Quest?

I've pretty much lost hope we'd ever have a truly global messaging standard. For a while XMPP was aiming for it, but it lost itself in a pick'n'mix assortment of options/add-ons/extensions. That doesn't mean it hasn't been successful behind the scenes, Initial Facebook chat, Whatsapp, Google Chat/hangouts (whatever the flavour at the time) used it, and even interoperated with third party clients. For a while at least. The GSMA has been gagging for a "social"/"messaging" platform for ages to make operators feel non-dumb-pipe. Remember Wired Village (from the days of WAP)?

I pinned my hopes on Signal Protocol being the newer, better XMPP and, again, while it's been successful in underpinning Signal Messenger, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, it still hasn't broken the vertical silos/walled gardens of commercial interest. Google's "generous" offer of RCS at least brought some federation across operators, but totally missed the boat on being properly secured and end-to-end encrypted. Something to which operators and governments are still rabidly allergic.

Messaging platforms definitely seem to have a generational clique brand aspect to them, i.e. there are the hot, hip and happening ones and the ones your parents or work/college/institution use. None of those make it easy to have work/life/social splits with the same interface. And people rush where the latest emojis, stickers and such are, cf. the swing onto Telegram and TikTok. I'm sure there's little reason the latter cannot use stock, standard back end protocols, besides the walled garden. In the new cloudy world, perhaps what we need is messaging-as-a-service so anyone can spin up their own, add their own special sauce interface bits to the client, but at least have common, at least technically interoperable back ends. We have the protocols.

Uber, Lyft struck by sue-ball, no, sue-meteorite in California after insisting their apps' drivers aren't employees

fuzzie

Re: Meanwhile (according to the BBC)...

There's a really good and thorough analysis of their business/financial model in this article

* https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/11/can-uber-ever-deliver-part-one-understanding-ubers-bleak-operating-economics.html#_edn4

It comes down to the "Get big. Fast" mantra. Use the venture capital to get as large as you possibly can, offer steep discounted rates subsidised by the VC investors. Keep that up long enough, and all the local competition is starved and you're left with the entire market. At which point, prices can be "adjusted" to be more "cost following".

Where the hell Huawei? It should be a bit easier to tell now the AppGallery has its first proper navigation app

fuzzie

Re: "utterly feature-crippled, only supporting offline navigation"

The offline maps/navigation saved my butt big time once. I was travelling, and SIM roaming wasn't working. Google Maps, specifically, but even other Google apps with vague location features all were stuck waiting for location services. The fused location bits seem to require GSM data and Wifi, despite having GPS, to work.

With Here WeGo I could use the pre-loaded maps, on-device search and the GPS pin location to get around. Depending on city, you even get public transport/transit navigation all offline.

Admittedly, it's points of interest aren't as up to date as Google's, but then Here doesn't slurp the world for a living. Fun fact: Here provides 80% of in-care navigation systems so they're not that niche, just less visible than Google and Apple.

fuzzie

Re: Here Wego crippled on android phones

That's happened to me, occasionally, but can't say it's ever borked itself permanently. Usually fixed by killing the app and restarting in. The cases where I experienced it were like driving out of basement parking, which had no GPS signal, into the open and there it seemed to not realise GPS had become available.

Consumer reviewer Which? finds CAN bus ports on Ford and VW, starts yelling 'Security! We have a problem...'

fuzzie

Did I read this correctly that their issue with the VW was that the could remove the radar sensor?

Did they least try and do something more interesting like replace it with a malicious one or one that spewed out bad/faulty measurements? Being able to remove a sensor doesn't seem like such a 'leet hack or huge vulnerability.

Commit to Android codebase suggests Google may strong-arm phone makers into using 'seamless' partitioned updates

fuzzie

My past few Sony handsets, primarily after they adopted the Project Treble model, received updates every other months. Nearly like clockwork. It's easy for Google to maintain a monthly release cycle for Nexus/Pixel. They only have three/four variants at any given time, maybe ten/twelve across the entire support window. Other manufactures may have ten/twelve localizations or market versions per model.

Generally, even after two years, despite the OEM's best efforts, the updates from Google start to dry up and they're left hanging. Google doesn't appear to buy into the idea that people are (at least wanting to) keep handsets for longer. The Android hardware requirements are often tweaked just enough for newer versions to require hardware updates.

Aside: Of course, this requirement could be aimed squarely at Samsung, which has been the main hold out on going Project Treble. They also go a fair bit of kernel/low-level tweakin, cf. Dex/Knox, which Google may not appreciate.

fuzzie

Re: I think we need some vendor-agnostic hardware abstraction...

Project Treble added exactly some of that.

It standardised and abstracted the hardware layer interface and allows the OS to be upgraded for longer and keep working with frozen-in-time binary blobs/drivers from the hardware vendors. Qualcomm has habit of declaring an SoC end-of-life barely 18 months after its initial general availability. This often made it impossible for handset manufacturers to ship updates past that point, even if they wanted to.

'I give fusion power a higher chance of succeeding than quantum computing' says the R in the RSA crypto-algorithm

fuzzie

Re: Forgotten what?

The whole point is that the right is not a blanket "I don't like this. Take it off the internet". The problem is that, search engines specifically, are not clever enough. They aren't nuanced enough to construct and proper and accurate time line to realise that the very newsworthy arrest you experienced ten years ago was followed by the case being thrown out or never prosecuted.

Many jurisdictions also have convictions expire after a time, once the fin has been paid or time served. The "right to be forgotten" doesn't mean all this magically disappears from history, it just means that search engines have to be much more careful about what they present in search results and, additionally, have to conform to local custom, law and (cultural) standards/expectations, e.g. do you consider the legal/justice system to be punitive or reformative? The answer to that will often determine which side of the fence you're sitting on the right to be forgotten.

Apple's tailored SwiftUI makes coding Mac and iOS apps RAD again

fuzzie

There's also Ye Olde Qt QML that marries declarative with C++ and/or JavaScript. Granted, non-C++ bindings like Python, Ruby or even Rust have varying levels of quality.

* https://doc.qt.io/qt-5/qmlfirststeps.html

The SwiftUI declarative examples even look eerily familiar.

It's 2019, and a PNG file can pwn your Android smartphone or tablet: Patch me if you can

fuzzie
Pint

Call-out to Sony (was: Re: Oh well)

Gotta give credit where's it's due. I have a Sony Xperia (XZ Premium from June 2017) and a week or so ago got the firmware update to the January 2019 security patch level. I started on Nougat/7.1, then upgraded to Oreo/8.0 and now on Pie/9. It never lagged security patches by more than about two months. My previous Sony handsets also got regular updates, up to and sometimes past two years from launch period.

Sony also publishes publishes build instructions and newer kernels for devices long past their two year support cycle for third parties who want/need to make custom builds

* https://developer.sony.com/develop/open-devices/get-started/supported-devices-and-functionality/

* https://developer.sony.com/develop/open-devices/downloads/software-binaries

Qualcomm lifts lid on 7nm Arm-based octo-core Snapdragon 855 chip for next year's expensive 5G Androids

fuzzie

Re: I'm Confused...

I have a Sony Xperia XZ Premium with 4K, ~800ppi, HDR screen. Sure, it's overkill for most cases. By default only select (generally the video/gallery) ones run at 4K, the rest stick to 1080p so no noticeable battery impact. Professional photographers love the 4K for pixel peeping on the go. Just select Professional/sRGB mode.

Even at 1080p "effective" resolution, the 800ppi dot pitch means small details, like serifs on text, flourishes on graphics, or detailing in notification bar icons, look painted. The same for e-Reader pages or text heavy web content. It seems to cross the same uncanny valley we experienced when laser printers crossed ~600dpi and print "grain" just disappeared.

tl;dr: Yes, mostly an indulgence, but a very satisfying one :)

Time for a little bet on Google? App-building framework Flutter now fitted for more than phones – desktops, too

fuzzie

Re: Thanks, but no thanks!

And people always seem to forget Qt :(

It's been doing cross-many-plaforms (desktop/mobile/embedded) for ages. It's featured hardware accelerated rendering even in the Symbian days, have native-ish look'n'feel and loads of language bindings. The native-look frameworks generate big update frenzies when a platform does a make-over and often don't honour customizations/themes/shortcuts. That's the price of portability, sadly.

If Google really wanted to add more cats to the pigeon coop they should just standardise of WebAssembly as executable format to unify(ish) the mobile and web deployment targets.

PS: We definitely appear to be in an era with a glut of new programming languages :(

Sure, Europe. Here's our Android suite without Search, Chrome apps. Now pay the Google tax

fuzzie

"Android partners wishing to distribute Google apps may also build non-compatible, or forked, smartphones and tablets [snip]"

Such pathetically passive aggressive language there. I'd be pretty peeved at that attitude if I were the Competition Commissioner.

A pity it doesn't require them to make everything else also optional. I realise much is tied to Google Play Services and it might even make sense for them to make that, or access to the Play Store, the one paid-for item due to the real value it adds. But I'm sure Google knows very well it's crucial to keep users tied to the Play Store. They don't want more Valves.

For all the excitement, Pie may be Android's most minimal makeover yet – thankfully

fuzzie

I have tried and failed. Some apps, I'd used Kik as experiment, have local user data that doesn't get backed up by the usual culprits. I used adb to make as complete a backup and the various flags enticed me to. On restore all I got back was the installed up, it's account was no longer and neither was its user data. Perhaps adb works differently on a rooted phone, but it did buggerall for me.

If Brussels wants Android forks, phone makers aren't helping

fuzzie
Thumb Up

Sony's Open Devices

Just to give credit where it's due. Sony has been running an Open Devices program for many years and have been really good about making it easy for people to get unlock codes, AOSP kernel source and build configurations. They even provide information on how to attach to the debug serial interface. It's this same program that allowed SailfishOS to create the Sailfish X port. They've been exemplary open source citizens in this context.

Caveat: If you unlock your boot loader you forfeit the warranty. You also, unless you take extra precautions, lose DRM keys for special hardware like BIONZ processor.

Obligatory reference

* https://developer.sony.com/develop/open-devices/

No, seriously, why are you holding your phone like that?

fuzzie

Re: Monkey see, monkey do

That's my theory as well. TV shows/movies have long shown people using phones in hands free mode. It's an easy fix to get the audience in on both sides of the conversation. On a related note, there are some neat tricks used to show SMS/text conversations, e.g. miniature speech bubbles. Between the the "bad example" set by media, and "cell phone radiation fries your brain", I can see such silly habits developing.

Side point... (cold(er)) glass against your face is probably less tactilely pleasant than warm(er) plastics. Add in the occasional flakey proximity sensors to the mix.

A pretty and helpful user interface? Nahhh. Is that really you, Samsung?

fuzzie

Re: Form over function

Project Treble has hugely streamlined updates. I generally get the monthly update releases within weeks on my Sony Xperia. Samsung is notable that it hasn't gone Treble yet. That's why it was left off Google's enterprise certified (or some similar PR term) OEM list.

Aside: Is it just me or does the home page screen shot look nearly identical to Symbian Belle? Down to the slightly lozenged application icons.

http://thepockettech.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/symbian-belle.jpg

Google's socially awkward geeks craft socially awkward AI bot that calls people for you

fuzzie

GDPR

Since it's the elephant de jour. I've not heard any noises about how Android will be dealing with GDPR. Would it required, when you're setting up a new phone, to go through a proper detailed list of opt-in selections. What happens to ones you don't opt-in? Or is Google going to push getting consent to the OEMs? I bet they'll just assume existing accounts are opted in and treat them as no-ops.

Heir to SMS finally excites carriers, by making Google grovel

fuzzie
Unhappy

Encryption?

They had a perfect opportunity to offer a cross-platform, non-silo'd, end-to-end secure service, but it doesn't appear that was even considered. Granted, telcos from certain large countries would surely not be keen on that. Also, as VoLTE has shown us, SIP has its own boat full of security and data leakage issues.

Apple and The Notched One: It can't hide the X-sized iPhone let-down

fuzzie

Re: nonsense post

Depends on the definition of "best", i.e. by largest number of units sold or by largest profit margin? The inflated margins of the X should then handily keep it abreast of the pack on the latter meaning.

Facebook puts 1.5bn users on a boat from Ireland to California

fuzzie

Re: It goes from bad to worse.

Sadly the "rest of the world" tends to be ignored by these multinationals. South Africa its own Protection of Personal Information Act. The right to Privacy is in the constitution's Bill of Rights. In some aspects POPI is more comprehensive than GDPR. I bet facebook will be wiping themselves off it.

Typically, the local offices are carefully at arm's length from the mothership so they're tricky to bring to book. We desperately need a more universal/coordinated approach to dealing with these super multinationals. Only the truly large markets, i.e. US, EU, CN, today have the clout (any some don't have the political will) to take them on

An FYI on POPI: https://www.miltons.law.za/a-summary-of-popi-the-protection-of-personal-information-act-act-no-4-of-2013/

Google's not-Linux OS documentation cracks box open at last

fuzzie

Re: Why C?

Good point, though that's probably still just because world + dog can link against C libraries. Rust probably has not-invented-here problems for Google, there's Go... though that requires its own runtime.

fuzzie

The article mentions Fushsia presents a POSIX system call interface and that libc will be available. Between those two items, you're close as damnit to drop-in user land tools, e.g. Dalvik/ART/Play Services. Android currently uses a Googly variant of libc, but libhybris has made it possible to run the rest of the Android stack on stock libc. I suspect Dalvik and ART (more so because they're pre-compiled) apps won't notice an OS change. As long as the same POSIX/Linux, OpenGL, OpenCL, etc APIs are available, native apps may also not notice.

Oreo's separation of the OEM blobs from the main OS also helps. Fushsia, like SailfishOS, LineageOS, etc, could just piggyback off the existing Android HAL blobs.

This is probably the road Samsung had been aiming for with Tizen, i.e. being able to just swap it out under the waterline, but Google's progressive moving of functionality out of AOSP into Play Services scuppered that idea. The locking down of the Play Store against "uncertified" devices may well be one more ratchet of that thumb screw.

In a sorry state again: Zuckerberg dusts off apology playbook in mea culpa to Congress

fuzzie

Re: How about even a scripted-apology for Shadow-Profiling?

I might not be based on explicitly political terms, but Google very much tailors its results based on the profile it's built for you. Try doing a search while logged into your Google account vs one on a clean/sandboxed machine and you'll see marketly different results.

Uber's disturbing fatal self-driving car crash, a new common sense challenge for AI, and Facebook's evil algorithms

fuzzie

Re: LiDAR doesn't work in the dark? WTF?

See the video below that gives an indication of the LiDAR view. I agree, Uber (or the police) has been disingenuous releasing only the low resolution dash cam footage. The cam's field of view is much narrower that that of a, presumably attentive driver with reasonable peripheral vision.

Using human performance as the benchmark is also stupid. Cars have significantly better sensors, though the magic is clearly in making sense of that data.

LiDAR scanning view

* https://360.here.com/giving-cars-their-superpowers

Mozilla's opt-out Firefox DNS privacy test sparks, er, privacy outcry

fuzzie

Re: Interesting

I posit that Google may well get more useful information from their DNS fleet than they get from "enticing" users to Android/Chrome. Sure, with Chrome you get URL query paths and such, but it can't capture what other applications are up to. DNS queries, on the other hand, must be a veritable jackpot.

ChromeCast, even some non-Google devices, use GoogleDNS in preference to whatever DHCP serves up. I explicitly drop GoogleDNS at my network boundary. Those devices inevitably fall back to my DNS to continue working.

FYI: There's also Quad9 as another alternative, i.e. 9.9.9.9

Fun fact of the day: Voice recognition tech is naturally sexist

fuzzie

Re: sex sells

I've heard different, reasonable-sounding justifications for assistants, and earlier even, voice navigation, using female voices.

As human we're more acutely tuned to female voices... possibly due to our early, formative years spent around mom. Secondly, noisy environments, e.g. cars, tend to drown out lower frequencies, given higher pitched female voices a slight advantage. And thirdly, people tend to be more compliant accepting instructions from women. The latter could again be a side effect of our early years spent with mothers or possibly a way to bypass the male competitive streak.

I'd love to hear from anyone with more official knowledge though.

Google Flutter hits beta: Another go at cross-platform mobile dev

fuzzie

For the most part I don't either, but often the cross-platform toolkits fixate on getting the look right and neglect other bits like tabbing order or (system-wide) keyboard shortcuts. It's especially bad where those shortcuts are configurable and the native-looking application behaves differently only in some cases. We've been at this since Motif, wxWidgets, Qt, etc. Some more equal than others.

We need baby Googles, say search specialists… and one surprising VC

fuzzie

Re: It rubs the Monopoly on it's skin, or else it gets the antitrust again...

Maybe select territories only. Last I tried, granted, it's been a while, it refused cache anything larger than about 100km square. It handily pre-caches its recommended route, but if you stray from it in an area without coverage or with less than 4G coverage it stars to falter badly. I also discovered, to my pain, that if it doesn't know street numbers, it directs you to the centre point of the road. This lead me 10km (yes, it's a very long road) off the real location, in totally the wrong suburb.

I tend to pre-check routes into unfamiliar territory before setting off (just to see where/if there are funky areas). Friends have on several occasions the past year ended up at locked farm gates, having been sent down "faster" detours. Google definitely has better coverage/quality in "first tier" territories, but falls off quickly, especially extensive rural road networks.

On the positive, GMaps has better points of interest coverage, e.g. through business and building names, etc. No doubt from their web scraping and Yelp data ingestion. The interface has also improved a lot since they hired the HERE designer.

fuzzie

Re: It rubs the Monopoly on it's skin, or else it gets the antitrust again...

Google's "offline" mode is very limited (and the cached content expires pretty quickly). It also only allows small areas to be cached. With HERE I generally download an entire country (or state(s) in the US).

Google Map also insists on a bunch of stuff like GPS Location, WiFi and an active SIM to even start up (it blankly refused to start when I had issues with a SIM not roaming). At least with HERE I could fire it up, and use GPS only, together with the compass to dead reckon my way to where I needed to be. Even without GPS I could look up my location in the offline maps and work out directions that way.

Google: Class search results as journalism so we can dodge Right To Be Forgotten

fuzzie

Re: Fahrenheit 451

I'd also argue that since they have a de facto monopoly on search, they should be required to pay extra diligence in their search, since customers really don't have other search providers against which they could cross-check results. Consequently, inaccurate or stale data may have a disproportionate impact when taken at face value.

Dawn of The Planet of the Phablets in 2019 will see off smartphones

fuzzie

Re: Design Opportunity

That's already been done and is still on the market. I had a Sony Xperia Z Ultra (6.4" phablet) for a while, because I got it really cheap and didn't want to specifically buy a tablet. As others have commented, most of what I do with a phone these days, aren't traditional "phone" stuff. A large screen is great for consuming media and/or web browsing. The SBH52 smart headset (there are newer version), in combination, gives you a old style "tiny" feature phone for calls. The other thing I loved about this headset, is that I can plug my existing B&W headphones into them.

Product/demo link:

* http://www.xperiablog.net/2013/06/27/sony-sbh52-smart-bluetooth-handset-ideal-xperia-z-ultra-companion/

The End of Abandondroid? Treble might rescue Google from OTA Hell

fuzzie

Re: Vendor layer

This info graphic from Sony is probably a reasonable representation for how most OEM have to deal with Android updates. My understanding of Treble is that it addresses the first three steps. It also has some support for carrier overlays so those can be more cleanly merged into the final OEM stack

* http://www.xperiablog.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/rsz_sony-xperia-software-rollout-roadmap.jpg

It's possible that, if the below-HAL parts haven't changed, that the OEM may even be able to skip (some of) the Phase 2 certification steps. Those don't just add lead time, they're expensive, especially for OEMs in many territories.

fuzzie

I believe the BSP (Board Support Package) from the SoC provider now provides the HAL upon which the rest is built. Since Qualcomm has a habit of end-of-living SoC after about 18 months, it's highly unlike they'd care to issue updates on those. In theory, Oreo can run with a legacy "shim" layer, but I suspect it's also not worth the effort.

Android at 10: How Google won the smartphone wars

fuzzie

Re: 'tell us the 'data-monster' dies'

What would make their demise interesting would be how people will get years of stuff they've uploaded back out of the platforms, or maybe, like MySpace and Orkut, they'll just hang around like dusty old attics.

Google reveals rapid Bluetooth gadget connection tech

fuzzie

Re: ... and speed limits on Maps ?

HERE maps have had speed limit indication and warnings from the Symbian days already. It's fullly offline operation, combined with the speed limit display and associated configurable speed warnings, have kept me from ever seriously trying out Google Maps. Since 80% of in-car navigation systems are based on HERE maps, I'd argue government and insurance companies have had a decade to wake up to that, yet haven't. One of the explicit use cases for Europe's Galileo GPS constellation is to provide accurate enough data to enable per-kilometre tolling. It could easily do the same for speed limit enforcements.

fuzzie

"Fast", you say. So instead of a local radio and protocol handshake, you're now inserting additional 150ms (if I'm fortunate) cross-pond network hop(s) (since it's not likely a single packet request/response).

Just what I've been looking for.

Pixel 2 tinkerers force Google's hand: Secret custom silicon found

fuzzie

Stamina mode is also a great way to shut up naggy and chatty apps (read: facebook). I just whitelist the one or two apps by which I'm happy to be interrupted. Combined with managing the data roaming option, you can travel safely without anticipating ruinous charges when you get home.

fuzzie

Sony does have some major battery-fu that they've added to manage batteries, e.g. various Stamina modes, Qnovo battery life extender tech, and predictive charging in the latest handsets. Google's attempts seem limited to Doze, which had undone some of Sony's work and is not quite as good as the Stamina modes. I suspect Google doesn't like handsets that go too quiet.

Have you heard the one about IoT network tech that uses SIM cards?

fuzzie

Re: Eh?

SMS and USSD use the same signalling channels, but you can view them as TCP vs UDP, i.e. USSD is session-based at the GSM layer. SMS-based apps have to roll their own if they require something more than a simple single request/reply.

That very same channel also carries "cell broadcasts". Popularly, it was a novel people used to display cell location name or even, as MTN did for a while, cell-contention-based call discount rates.

Another upside for IoT devices using good old 2G GSM, is that those chip sets are ridiculously cheap and very miserly on power compared to the newer generations.

Guntree v Gumtree: Nominet orders gun ads site must lose domain

fuzzie
Childcatcher

Re: Gumtree

As opposed to C*mtree which, if I am to believe dig, exists.

Though I suspect highly NSFW

GNOME Foundation backs 'freedom-oriented' smartphone

fuzzie

Re: We don't need more hardware!

I'm going to give this a humongous +1. Doing hardware is a huuuuge distraction from building an open platform/eco system, etc. Learn from FirefoxOS, Ubuntu, and Jolla/SailfishOS. When you (eventually, if ever) get something out of the door, you're a generation behind (if you're lucky), with no benefits of scale, distribution or price.

Jolla's recent switch to porting to Sony's OpenDevices is much more sane approach. Sony gets to do the hardware, ensure the boot loader can be unlocked, do CE/UL/carrier certification, and sell into the general market. Jolla has a much more manageable task of occasionally porting to new hardware, but focusing primarily on the software.

Building a new eco system and app store is one serious uphill battle. I'd argue SailfishOS is only really usable as a daily driver due to Alien Dalvik support. A freedom phone won't/can't include that.

BlackBerry admits: We could do better at patching

fuzzie

SoC vendor blobs

This is a general Android HAL issue though. Many other projects piggyback on Android's efforts to enlist board support packages for hardware. Unfortunately, Qualcomm, and others, end-of-life their board support packages after barely more than a year. Consequently, even if the OEM want to do a major release upgrade they're stuffed. Combine that with Google upping hardware requirements for Android certification, e.g. OpenGL ES 4.4 for Nougat, 4.3 for Marshmallow (a pure software update), and OEMs are stuck.

The industry, or more likely consumer watchdog organizations, should mandate longer hardware support windows or even require board support blobs to revert to the public domain if no longer supported.

Google's Android 8.0 Oreo has been served

fuzzie

Sadly, I have yet to find an app that degrades gracefully when denied a permission. They normally go all sulking and won't budge until you relent.

Silly, but pertinent example... I created a Calendar event, and wanted to add a subject/description. Calendar insisted on Location/GPS access, probably because one of the editable fields is location, which you cannot edit without it insisting to look it up in Maps. I'd be dead happy with a simple text field (optionally Location verified if I explicitly asked). There was no way out of that edit trap without allowing Location access.

It's August 2017 and your Android gear can be pwned by, oh look, just patch the things

fuzzie

Re: which will post their own updates in time, hopefully.

I used the PC Companion on Windows 7. It's more recent/modern version, Xperia Companion, I've used on Windows 8.1 (and it claims to support Windows 7). I think you only need the PC app for major updates, e.g. Kit Kat -> Lollipop or Lollipop -> Marshmallow or Marshmallow -> Nougat. Other updates I've all done OTA.

If you still don't have joy, consider XDA's XperiFirm flash tool and/or xpericheck.com

Mass Storage mode has been killed off by Google'd licensing. Sony used to include it, but Google stopped that, insisting on MTP.

Good news: Samsung's Tizen no longer worst code ever. Bad news: It's still pretty awful

fuzzie

Re: I had not heard of Tizen before

Full Android is too heavy for "feature" phones and getting increasingly bloated for even entry-level handsets. Google's Mobile Services ODM agreement prevents them from using AOSP for those. In addition, Google's become much more prescriptive about Android's look/behaviour, diluting Samsung's look'n'feel and attempts to build their own services infrastructure.

Tizen's trying to pull off the consortium development model of Symbian, but from that I can tell it's only seen real action in Samsung wearables, TVs and a handful of phones.

I strongly believe we need competition for Android, but it's a long and tiring road, as Jolla with SailfishOS also discovered.

Much-hyped Ara Blackphone LeEco Essential handset introduced

fuzzie

Re: With 128GB as standard, few people will need an SD slot

SD cards aren't just cheap(er) capacity, they're also portable capacity between devices and platforms, i.e. I can trivially move loads of stuff between Android devices and my Windows/Linux PC.

If Google allowed app installs to be properly sandboxed and/or storage agnostic, I should be able to pop my SD card out of my old phone into a new one and be up and running immediately with all the apps. They might have do ditch vFAT and/or exFAT, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

fuzzie

The challenge for ODMs that want to innovate is they end with a forked Android. Whatever new hardware they build needs drivers and APIs which they'll spend their lives reintegrating whenever Google does an Android code dump. If they're really lucky they convince Google it's an awesome idea, Google takes it up and it becomes part of the next major Android release, but most likely with a different Google-specced API. At which point they''ve got a nasty legacy/backwards compatibility headache to boot. Early movers on wearables/Smart devices still nurse burns from that.

Public Cloud makes it to Africa for the first time

fuzzie

Re: They may do very well

Typical good, not best case, sees about 170ms to the UK/EU. For streaming stuff that's not so bad, but anything slightly more interactive is ouch. CDNs help a bit.

International connectivity is definitely not oversubscribed. There are Terabits of unlit capacity on those submarine cables and the operators keep tweaking more bang for buck out of their existing lit fibres. Pricing has come down a whole lots over the past few years there's, at least in metropolitan areas and suburbs, a huge land grab competition going on between ISPs to roll out fibre to replace/leapfrog the incumbent's ADSL/VDSL network.

Oddly, national connectivity can often be the bottleneck, which might explain Azure's two-city approach. There are about five major fibre backbones connecting the major centres, but beyond that you're left with the incumbent's piecemeal-upgraded PSTN->ADSL network. Though they're working hard to convert the rural crowd onto LTE/LTE-A rather.

Johannesburg/Sandton is the home for the JSE, and the large corporates, e.g. banks, mining companies, etc, Cape Town's more into the media/film, fashion, retail, and startup scenes.

Google DeepMind's use of 1.6m Brits' medical records to test app was 'legally inappropriate'

fuzzie

Re: 2 more words

I like it, but rather treat it like a class action suit. Sue them, cover your legal fees with the award and then hand the rest to the 1.6 million people who's records were abused. A combination of showing some regulatory backbone and (buying, using the offender's money,) public support.

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