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* Posts by Andrew Mayo

6 posts • joined 5 Sep 2008

Gartner to wearables biz: Through failure comes success!

Andrew Mayo

I second the comments earlier about the Galaxy Watch, having recently picked up the smaller 42mm one. Crucially it has more than enough battery life to get through a day with the display 'always on'. A watch you can't see the time on without making wild wrist gestures or stabbing at it with a finger isn't particularly useful when you're carrying stuff in both hands like shopping bags etc. However a permanently illuminated watch face is extremely handy (esp at this time of the year). Although not a fitness freak I appreciate the step counter, it reminds me to exercise a reasonable amount every day, and I like that you can read texts without reaching for your phone, though replying is somewhat awkward unless one of the pre-canned replies will suffice. And it's rather too easy to send something prematurely, which could lead to embarrassment.Otherwise I like the 'trusted device' phone unlock so that if my phone is near the watch it's automatically left unlocked. Of course, the day I get mugged for my watch and my phone I will live to regret that!.

I do feel that the watch side of the wearables market is growing finally though. Where I purchased mine (Argos - they're throwing in the very nice dual Samsung wireless fast charger for free as an Xmas deal), the guy who served me said he was thinking of getting one for Xmas, and my interest, in turn, was sparked by getting my partner a Fitbit and seeing how she engaged with the distance and step count tracking, which she really appreciated, as she's watching the calories. So I think there is growth through the networking effect especially with people becoming increasingly health conscious.

Super Micro chief bean counter: Bloomberg's 'unwarranted hardware hacking article' has slowed our server sales

Andrew Mayo

Never a plausible story in the first place

This was never a plausible story from day one. SuperMicro's manufacturing facilities will work from downstream manufacturing artifacts e.g the Gerbers, pick and place files etc, which drive the PCB manufacture and subsequent pick and place and wave soldering stages and so on. They don't have the original design files, nor do they need them to manufacture product.

It's like 3d printing. I have the FreeCAD files, I export STLs, the STLs get sliced to produce gcode. I give the gcode to the printer, that's all it needs.

Yes - theoretically I can hack the gcode; that's hard. And detectable, if I compare with a master copy. Much easier to change the CAD file - but that's not a downstream artifact, why would I give that to the people printing my design?

To somehow interfere with these manufacturing files, which are under rigorous version control, and distribute the tampered copies to the fabrication pipeline would be an incredibly challenging task. Since QA also then take finished boards and X-Ray them and compare against an exemplar board, you also then have to somehow ensure that the resulting compromised board is undetectably different, which given that you need to route power and signal traces to these spy chips really starts to challenge credulity.

Bloomberg could make these assertions because their reporters and editors were technically naive about hardware manufacturing and probably figured if you can tamper with software, surely it's just as easy to tamper with hardware. As for why Bloomberg made the claims, a number of industry sources believe that they were indeed the fall guy for a state-sponsored disinformation campaign timed to coincide with the US disfavouring Chinese vendors. Recall that AT&T got leaned on heavily over selling Huawei phones to the extent they pulled out from a deal.

Finally, no-one's sueing anyone because, in the case of Apple/Amazon there's no basis for legal action; no-one accused them of anything but, allegedly, being victims. They deny this. End of story. As for SuperMicro, they could sue Bloomberg but, absent proof of malice, Bloomberg have a fairly strong defence that they had reasonable grounds to believe the story to be true.

Huawei Mate 20 Pro: If you can stomach the nagware and price, it may be Droid of the Year

Andrew Mayo

Re: Simplification

Yeah, there's a ribbon cable which connects a very large NFC scanning coil in the back of the case to the front, that powers the LEDs and it is prone to breakage. My first case lasted about a year. The replacement I've stopped bending the front cover right round to the back and just opening it out flat, to see if it lasts longer. But at £20 a pop that's not such a big issue now. When my first case failed I thought about getting a standard case but the LEDs were so useful I decided to replace it. Let's see how it goes....

Andrew Mayo

Re: Simplification

Note 8 Sim Free at £508 from Amazon ?

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Samsung-Galaxy-Note-SM-N950F-Smartphone-Black/dp/B0756FFZTZ

Think that ticks all your boxes. Mine's been dead reliable since I got it at launch date - no reboots required.

No notch, fingerprint reader is on the back admittedly but - you know what? - actually that turns out to be a fairly sensible place for it with the LED cover, since you open the cover and use your right hand index finger to activate the sensor. And the LED cover is now only £20 and a marvel of clever technology, with actual LEDs embedded in the front cover to quickly show you notifications, the time and even response to a touch swipe to answer calls or shut off the alarm. This really is a terrific phone for the new price, given the Note 9 is now out (and hardly a significant upgrade).

$30 Landfill Android mobes are proof that capitalism ROCKS

Andrew Mayo

Have you had a closer look at that 'landfill' recently?

I'm not sure that 'Android Landfill' is an entirely fair term these days.

I picked up an Alcatel Android phone yesterday from EE for £19.99 PAYG. The brand is being used by the Chinese company TCS.

This has a dual-core 1GHz Mediatek processor, 512M RAM, 480 X 320 3.5 inch screen, removable battery and micro sd card slot. It runs Android 4.2.

Sure, the camera is fairly crappy and the front screen is plastic, not glass. However it came with almost no bloatware, runs surprisingly fast, and benchmarked up with Antutu at around 10,000 compared to my Note 3 at around 30,000. The only really weak point was 3D graphics, perhaps not surprisingly, but most of the detailed benchmark figures such as integer and floating point performance were around half those of the Note 3.

It also has Bluetooth and GPS, by the way. And an FM radio. It came with a charger and USB cable plus a set of earbuds.

A device like this in a developing nation would be a truly empowering piece of kit. As it is, I am amazed you can buy something like this for not a lot more than my daily commute costs me, or, looking at it another way, I could pick up 30 of these, and equip a whole class of students, for the cost of one iPhone 6.

And this is just the beginning of 2015. What will the Chinese be able to produce for this price point in a year or two?. We may chuckle, those of us who can afford to drop hundreds of quid on the latest top-of-the-range smartphone, but this little device acquitted itself incredibly well for the price, and I think it's entirely unfair to call it 'landfill'. For goodness sake, even a Raspberry Pi costs more!.

History shaped Google's Trojan Horse

Andrew Mayo

Chrome - a few things to think about

Firstly, I think Google lobbed Chrome at Mozilla like a grenade because they had presumably already asked for improved Javascript runtime performance and been told that was low on the priority list.

In addition, the Mozilla/Firefox people seem to have an almost irrational aversion to implementing what they see as 'non-standard' extensions to the W3C DOM object model, like "document.all", whereas WebKit incorporates most of the Microsoft DOM extensions, which makes life a lot easier for developers.

I'm betting therefore that within the Firefox team 'minds have been focussed' and would be surprised if they don't either incorporate the V8 Javascript engine or get their engine to bench up to the same level of performance. And incidentally, it's not just Javascript performance that's exceptional in Chrome; DOM manipulation is MUCH faster, meaning that UI performance approaches native applications in speed.

So Chrome is Google cracking the whip at Firefox by saying 'ok, we can't force you to do x,y and z (even though we pay you money), but in that case we'll do it ourselves.

Secondly, Chrome is an exceptionally well documented open source project (look at the Chromium web site). You can download a complete Visual Studio 2005 project ready to compile 'out of the box'. An auto-build process runs regularly and there's web visibility of builds and what broke.

This makes it very easy to download and fiddle with, not to mention contribute code back - and I'll bet right now our friends at Novell are doing just that. Because if Silverlight doesn't work with Chrome, why not get Moonlight/Mono working with it?. Suppose you plug in a different script engine, say, a JIT compiler for .NET, which Novell could easily do. Now how does that look as a development platform?.

Note the BSD license which avoids all those awkward viral GPL intellectual property issues.

Because the Chrome sourcecode base has good documentation including technical documentation (incredibly rare in open source projects), it's much easier for third parties to contribute to it.

Firefox/Gecko is a complex and rather messy codebase that unfortunately means only a dedicated bunch of people (many paid by Google) are willing to mess with it. Whereas WebKit and Chrome are carefully constructed to tight standards (see the style guide for code, for example).

So consider Chrome six months from now. All the initial bugs are fixed and there are now a dozen script engines to choose from including Java, Python, Ruby, Mono and of course Javascript. Google Gears offers offline storage so you can build apps that still work when the PC is disconnected. An external Gears/filesystem bridge allows you to safely migrate information in and out of the browser sandbox e.g by opening up just one folder on your PC.

NOW do you still see Chrome as 'just a browser'???

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