Showing posts from April, 2008

Virtualisation In Server 2008 - Does Microsoft Finally Get It?

You know I've been critical of Microsoft's addiction to bloat on so many occasions that, just for once, its a nice change to throw them a bouquet when something goes the other way.

Windows Server 2008 looks like a much more robust competitor for VMware, when we finally get the full deployment and tools. But one things that strikes me as a real bonus for creating a stable host cluster is the availability of a minimal install, sans GUI and stripped of pretty much everything by default. Performance, security and reliability are all bound to be improved by such a deployment, not to mention the much reduced need for constant patching, which plagues all Microsoft system centres and makes running a large scale operation a gargantuan task.

And as a platform for virtualisation using Hyper-V? It can only be a benefit, build the server (under 15 minutes by Microsoft's measurements) throw a couple of command line (or remote management) switches and you have a virtual server host with cl…

Nokia CA-300 FM Transmitter Review

Since the Government okayed the use of FM transmitters a couple of years ago it seems like the world and his dog have been launching them. From unbranded far eastern imports to badged and retailed units there's a wide choice.

Nokia's transmitter supports all its handsets that use the new slim barrel power connector and 2.5 or 3.5mm heaadphone sockets.

I tried it with the Nokia N810 Internet Tablet and found it to perform well. There was little of the background hiss that plagues cheaper (and some more expensive) transmitters. Power was good enough to overcome interference from both a remote low power radio station and a nearby alternate transmitter on the same channel.

Use is easy - plug into the cigarette lighter socket, connect the power and headphone sockets and select a channel on the control unit (simple up down buttons here, plus a LCD screen to show which channel is selected). Tune the radio to that channel and its done.

The two tricks that the Nokia unit has in its favour …

iPhone Price Cut Clears Stocks

Carphone Warehouse and O2 have both run out of stock of the 8Gb iPhone, following the decision to cut the price by £100 last week. Seems that staff at some stores are saying that this will be a permanent situation, as no more 8Gb models are being manufactured.

Which suggests even more strongly that iPhone 3G is on its way, with the current 16Gb version set to drop to entry level in the new iPhone range.

The question is: How long till it arrives? If the more expensive model is all that remains on the shelf and people are generally waiting for the 3G version, then iPhone sales on a downward trend again.

The smart money remains on a WWDC launch in June, but frankly I suspect a special European launch scheduled mid-May, with June availability. Otherwise Apple Europe and its partners may not turn in the kind of financial figures through Q2 that the iPhone has previously been allowing.

Radical New Look For 3G iPhone

Seems that Apple's notoriously tight product security has lapsed a bit, as the 3G iPhone's details have been appearing all over the internet. First came the news that the unit had been ordered from its OEM with 2 million units due for delivery by the end of May, closely followed by the news that the current device is being heavily discounted by Apple's partners.

Now we're hearing that the new iPhone will be a radically different device to the current phone.

Which seems like a good bet to me. Apple may have changed the face of mobiles by moving to a touch only interface, but there's no substitute for a proper keypad, especially if you're looking for a way in to the corporate market.

I'm expecting the new iPhone to be much more like Nokia's N810, marrying a functional touch interface with a proper keyboard for text entry.

Picsel Browser vs Safari

I've heard a number of people claim that the best mobile browser is the iPhone's version of Safari and most web usage reports seem to suggest that the mobile webspace is dominated by the iPhone. I'm not inclined to believe this figure. If for no other reason than the fact that Pocket IE has had a whole Micro-Internet grow up around it in the last seven or eight years. Windows Mobile, Palm and Blackberry devices far outnumber iPhones in the market today and even though most of their standard browsers make no attempt to deliver a desktop like experience they do a much better mobile browsing experience in the real world, making a good fist of displaying the important information from normal pages. The story doesn't finish there though, as most platforms have a choice of alternative browsers, depending on the sort of experience that a user is looking for. The most common by far is Opera Mini. Whilst Netfront also offers an alternate solution for multiple platforms. A third…

All Day Computing

I've been pretty happy with my OQO 01+ since picking it up earlier in the year at a bargain price. Adding a double capacity battery (which adds little to the OQO's bulk) was a good move too, today I was able to find out just how good a move.

With the current information security climate its almost inevitable I'd end up on an infosec course at some time this year and this week is the week. Being a conscientious sort of guy I make copious notes at this sort of thing and this time around I decided to take them on my OQO. After an early start and a late finish my OQO had ploughed through a 9 hour day, of which 6 had been spent note-taking in Windows Journal and another using a bluetooth phone to VPN back to the office. At packing up time the double capacity battery was still reporting 31% charge available. Now that's what I call endurance.

Its something that often gets missed when people look at smaller laptops and UMPCs, but your usage pattern is likely to be quite differen…

iPhone Price Cuts Reach UK

O2 and the Carphone Warehouse have dropped the price of the 8Gb iPhone by £100 on any iPhone contract, reducing the price to £169.

Its yet another sign that the 3G iPhone can't be long in coming, just as it signals that sales haven't been as good as Apple, O2 or Carphone Warehouse had hoped.

Interestingly the price cut is good only until June 1st, suggesting that there's a need to clear stock ahead of an announcement at Apple's WWDC that month???

Time To Dump Virgin Media

When you signed up for your broadband service did you agree to the service blackmailing web businesses and sites on your behalf? No, I didn't think so, but new Virgin Media boss Neil Berkett is quoted in the Royal Television Society’s Television magazine as saying “This net neutrality thing is a load of bollocks”

He then reportedly threatened public broadcasters like the BBC that if they don’t pay a premium to gain faster access to Virgin Media’s customers, their service would be put into “bus lanes”

I'm sure that Virgin aren't the only ISP performing this 'service' on behalf of their customers, but I think its the most brazen example. I suggest its time that the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and other content providers disclosed which ISPs have bee taking this line so that we, the buying public can avoid them in future.

Palm Troubles Increasing, 2009 Looking A Long Way Off

I almost let this one slip by, on the grounds that there's little good to say about Palm these days, so why kick them whilst they're down?But this particular piece of news is so bad I couldn't really not comment. Against a predicted Q3 loss of $14m Palm has now had to revise its reported figures to show a disconcerting $57m loss - prompting analysts from two independent brokers to suggest that the company isn't long for this world.Hopes of a takeover seem remote, after all the company is a sitting target until its new Linux devices arrive, more so because its product line (750W excepted) is so badly behind the times. Why pay money to buy Palm when you can eat their lunch for free? So it all hinges on Palm Linux, a product which won't give them a marketable producy for 18 months.Seems an awful long time to be sitting on the rifle range with a target painted ob your shirt to me...

Microsoft Gives Yahoo Three Weeks To Comply

There's a stink of resentment rising from Microsoft around its proposed bid for Yahoo, centred around the latter's obvious reluctance to play ball and cozy up to the deal. Yahoo's board believes the bid undervalues the company, yet as Microsoft rightly points out the bid is some 42% above Yahoo's pre-bid trading price, suggesting the offer is not so bad at all.Rupert Murdoch's News International is rumoured to be in on the deal too, alleged acquiring a chunk of the potential new company in exchange for a cash injection.But Microsoft appear to have had enough of the complex courtship ritual and has given the Yahoo board three weeks to comply with its offer or otherwise find its Redmond based suitor courting shareholders directly.Time to drop the pretence guys, Yahoo's value is heading South and quick under the onslaught of a dominant Google. Microsoft is the only sensible way forward - and even then you have to wonder if Microsoft are really getting a good deal …

iPhone Price Drop, Sales Figures Point To Imminent 3G Release

T-Mobile has announced a significant price drop for the 8Gb iPhone, for which it has exclusive distribution rights in Germany. The formerly €399 device will now sell for €99, a mammals 75% drop in price.

At the same time details have emerged of Orange France's sales figures for the first quarter of its iPhone contract. On the face of it overall sales are impressive, at 96,000 but of those 70,000 sold in the first month of availability, meaning that subsequent months have seen sale at around 13,000 a month, well short of the numbers Orange needs to deliver on its initial 400-500k annual sales target.

Put these together and its clear that Apple need to get a 3G European iPhone out of the door very quickly indeed, otherwise their credibility in the telecomms workspace is going to seriously damaged.

HTC Teasing New Device For May Launch In London

HTC aren't renowned for being the tightest operation around when it comes to keeping new devices secret, yet the tease for its London launch early May suggests they have something that hasn't yet been scooped.

I'm hoping it will herald the arrival of the Universal replacing, and much rumoured Omni. But I'm not holding my breath...

HP Releases 'Not a UMPC' Mini

HP's entry into the low-cost super small laptop market is sure to make UMPC manufactures sit up and pay close attention, as its small, light and packs a keyboard and proper expansion into a UMPC-sized (aluminium) shell albeit at the expense of a touchscreen.

Of course the Mini 2133 has to overcome HTC Shift syndrome and beat the size/functionality compromise which has defeated so many others.

Another potential issue could be the EeePC from Asus. Whilst not yet having Windows (something the Mini packs from day 1) the Eee has sold fantasically well, which begs the question: Is there anybody left out there who would find this a must-have purchase?

Ouch, Wired Dumps On HTC's Shift

There's something quite saddening about seeing a much anticipated device getting totally trashed on its first appearance, but that's what has happened to HTC's Vista/Windows CE hybrid, dual function Shift.

Wired magazine's review is pretty unequivacal, calling the Shift on almost all fronts.

Which isn't that surprising if you look at the specs - its a UMPC and, as we've seen in the past, the 7" screen format just doesn't work - its not portable enough to justify the small keyboard/touchscreen vectoring compromises necessary to carry one.

BT To Offer 24Mbps ADSL2 Later This Month

BT has invested a number of years and much technology in what it calls its 21CN (21st Century Network). Its an ambitious £10bn project to integrate different BT networks under a single IP platform and will allow ISPs (who mostly buy their services wholesale from BT) to offer a range of extended packages and faster links.Of course the problem is now going to be managing the expectations of customers sold on super high speed lines who will now be experiencing even greater slowdowns as everyone looks to fill up on IPTV, music and video downloads and of course VoIP services. I'd suggest a close look at the terms and conditions of any high speed link to ensure you're not going to be running out of bandwidth halfway through a month. Consumer broadband is set to hit 24Mbps as a new standard over the next 18-24 months so at least we'll all be feeling that much better connected in the near future.

N:Gage Back On The Block, No Taco Phone Required

Nokia relaunched N:Gage as a gaming service for a selection of its newer devices today (although its not officially announced, it is available) in an attempt to further entrench its position as number one phone hanset supplier.N:Gage faces stiff competition and having tanked once as a hardware platform Nokia can't really afford to get it wrong again. At the moment Nintendo's DS owns the market, with the PSP sometimes challenging. Waiting in the wings is Apple's iPhone platform which will certainly see massive games development given its popularity and foolproof software delivery method. It remains to be seen whether Microsoft will look to its Windows Mobile platform to provide an XBox mobile platform, given the struggles with the Zune and the burgeoning Windows Mobile gaming ecosystem I suspect it won't happen.Nokia's N95, N82 and N81 are supported from today, whilst the older N73 is also likely to feel the N:Gage love before the big games roll out this summer.

CloudBook Living It To The Max Too

Everex's Eee PC competitor the Cloudbook was another WiMAX device to hit the floor at CTIA today, adding yet another form factor to the WiMAX alliance.

So, for those lucky people in the few areas of the US which will recieve Sprint's WiMAX service there are now three choices of form factor for your wide area wireless: small (the Cloud Book); very small (the oqo); and tiny (the N810).

It would be nice to see some kind of WiMAX announcement for the UK though. Especially now its been confirmed as a 3G technology and could therefore be used to fill in the holes in existing data networks. Of course the better quality of the UK HSDPA rollout: which has seen large areas of the country boasting 3.6 Mbps speeds and some metropolitan areas already at 7.2 Mbps there's really not the urgency that the poor old EV-DO ridden US requires.

That's only a very small consolation though...

WinMo 6.1 Official, Blows Upgrade Myth, Packs Features

Microsoft made Windows Mobiles 6.1 official today and, in the process proved that its Windows Mobile Update software was nothing more than lip service to the notion that Windows Mobile users should be able to apply minor updates without having to waiti for the say-so of their mobile operator or handset manufacturer.Updates in this revision include threaded SMS messaging, a new Pocket IE engine based on IE6, with better zoom options and some background fixes to WM6 issues.Nothing then that couldn't have been pushed out to existing devices via an update.Still Microsoft and the manufacturers would much rather you went out and bought a new handset instead...

Is Nokia's Internet Tablet Going WiMAX?

The Nokia N810 has been rumored to be going WiMAX for a little while now, but the appearance on the Nokia Europe website of a WiMax edition of the tablet has raised expectations of a launch to fever pitch.

CTIA seems the likely place to do it and today has been the day when most commentators expect it to happen. Which rather beggars the questions: what will it connect to? What's the battery life like? And how long from launch can we actually expect to see one?

Given that Sprint is still talking about a WiMAX network in the US, there's a fair chance it will have something to connect to eventually but on this side of the pond WiMAX has had less of a positive reception.

Remembering that OQO had a WiMAX device sometime ago I'm guessing that this Nokia announcement won't have any great import for a little while yet.