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Showing posts from March 24, 2016

Lumia 930 Users: Those Silent Movies Aren't A Windows 10 Mobile Problem

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Owners of the Lumia 930 are discovering a new feature of their phones after upgrading to Windows 10 Mobile: silent movies. Unfortunately it's not a feature or even a bug, it's actually a hardware fault that has been hidden by Windows Phone 8.1, but had now been unmasked by Windows 10 Mobile. 
It's particularly unfortunate for the Lumia 930, a phone whose four microphone array made it a clear winner in every video recording test when audio quality was under consideration. 
However it's looking like Nokia made some poor hardware choices when selecting the microphones in the 930 and as a result microphones three and four commonly fail on the handset. Because of the way Windows Phone 8.1 uses the mikes that wasn't a problem - sound was still recorded from functioning microphones. 
In Windows 10 Mobile though, this isn't the case. The new Windows Camera appears to only use the faulty microphones, meaning that users get completely silent video. 
Hardly a good result…

Tesla's Model 3: This Year's Most Important Vehicle?

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Let's not beat about the bush, for all its problems and future competition worries, Tesla has been  a revelation of a motor company. From the launch of its first car ten years ago its has positioned itself as a design, technology and innovation leader. As brand it has acquired the kudos of BMW or Audi, something other manufacturers have tried and failed to do. However, its success has come as the result of releasing high-end, niche vehicles that sell in thousands and target the wealthier sections of society. The Model S - its biggest seller - only broke through the 100,000 sales barrier in December, after three and a half years on sale. Targeting this market makes it infinitely easier to build a competitive vehicle. When cost is of limited constraint it's possible for engineers to deliver the right solution all of the time. However the real skill is in building a vehicle which is destined to sell in significant numbers and do so at a much lower price point. With financial con…

Pinboard And IFTTT, Shakedown Or Mountain-Sized Molehill?

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In a blog post on the Pinboard developer site the company's CEO Maciej Ceglowski has written a brief explainer to summarise the reasons why Pinboard users will no longer be able to integrate the service with IFTTT. Pinboard is a bookmarking service that allows you to maintain a cloud-based record of websites, tweets and other web content to re-visit, read later or share. Its a chargeable service and a reasonably popular one by all accounts. IFTTT (If This, Then That) is a web automation tool which allows users to automate activities based on triggers. It integrates with hundreds of services, from home automation to file storage, email to Evernote. It is a free service and very, very popular. Ceglowski's post was prompted by a message that IFTTT sent to its users who used the Pinboard connector to let them know that the service was going to stop working as of April 4th, because Pinboard  had chosen not to migrate to its new platform. Ceglowski's argument is that IFTTT is p…

HTC's Failure To Update To Windows 10 Mobile Further Damages Reputation

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HTC used to be the company we all loved. An innovator in the smartphone space and, with its long record of Windows Mobile, Android and Windows Phone devices, a company with plenty of customer goodwill to trade on. It has spent the last few years gradually tipping that away. Last week it managed to put itself in a position where it could be seen to have broken promises to customers, and not caring about it. So let's talk about the HTC One M8 for Windows. When Microsoft released Windows 10 Mobile into the wild last week the former flagship HTC device was sadly missing from the list of devices which will receive the new software. Given how good the new version of Windows Mobile is proving to be, that's a real disappointment for those users who went out and bought the handset. Whilst there are other phones that won't be getting the update - mostly down to older hardware and, especially, low memory - the One M8 suffers from neither of these problems. It is eminently suitable …

Sony's Xperia Marketing Failure Thrown Into Sharp Relief By iPhone SE

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The launch of the new, premium, 4" iPhone SE last week has prompted a number of articles about how Apple has re-invented the small phone category for the power user, as well as many comments about the iPhone SE being the best small smartphone you can buy. In fact it hasn't and it isn't. One company has been flying the flag for smaller sized flagships for years now and the fact that almost nobody knows about it shows just what a desperately poor job it has been doing of selling itself and its products. Sony is currently on its third generation of Xperia Compact flagship. The Z5 version builds on the success of the previous Z1 and Z3 Compacts - and delivers an iPhone SE busting performance in so many areas. The Z5 Compact is marginally larger than the iPhone SE (127 x 65 x 8.9 mm versus 124 x 59 x 7.6mm) yet manages to pack a much larger, higher resolution screen, stereo speakers, hi-res audio support, a higher resolution camera, onboard Digital Noise Cancelling and waterp…

FBI Has Its Method To Crack iPhone, Security Argument Blown On Both Sides

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After what seems like months of political posturing and points scoring between the IT community and law enforcement we have a, somewhat unexpected, outcome. The FBI has a workable method for gaining access to the iPhone in question - and presumably other iPhones should they so desire - and Apple hasn't had to build a backdoor into iOS. Except that if a way to bypass an iPhone's security exists already Apple's (and much of the IT community's) argument that weakening the iOS lockdown for the FBI weakens it for everybody goes out of the window. If one person has worked out how to bypass the iPhone lockscreen then you can be sure that many have. Treating your iPhone as secure isn't valid any more. My argument against the iOS lockdown still holds true though. Apple are only able to obstruct the unlocking of iPhones in the US because of the tests and balances built into the US legal system. Were a less open regime make a similar request Apple would have to comply. Parti…

Which Is The Greater iPad Pro?

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The release of the newer, smaller iPad Pro has caused some confusion amongst iPad Pro fans. The message that seems to coming from owners of the original version is 'thanks, but no thanks'. The argument against seems to be that the smaller Pro has lesser technical specs which make it less suitable as your only computer. That's not a great argument in my view. Neither iPad Pro is suitable for use as your only computer. Doesn't matter how limited you believe your computer use cases are, you will bump up against the limitations of iOS pretty soon. When you do, you'll need a proper computer and once you've abdicated tasks to another machine the iPad is right back where it was meant to be: a companion device. And if your iPad is a companion device arguments about technical specs become irrelevant. So if you're considering an iPad Pro then consider what you want from it, not the components inside the case. What you're hearing is mostly confirmation bias from p…

Mossberg Wants The Next iPhone To Be Spectacular, He's Going To Be Disappointed

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Walt Mossberg has suggested that the next iPhone had better be spectacular, primarily because he believes that Samsung has erased the iPhone's lead in the sector. Although he still calls the 6S and 6S Plus the best smartphones you can buy.

He's wrong of course. The iPhone 6S is derivative of the 6, which size and shape apart was derivative of the 5S that came before it. The Galaxy S6 was a better all-rounder than the iPhone 6 and the Galaxy S7 is a better phone than the 6S, for most buyers.
So whatever it does this fall, Apple is playing catch-up. It's been playing catch-up for a while. When the iPhone 6 came out its major enhancement was a bigger screen. Everybody else had been doing them for years. It added reachability and phase pixel focusing, both Samsung staples. On the 6S we got Live Photos - directly ripping off a feature from Windows Phone Lumias. It did add 3D touch, but that's its first original feature in years.
The problem is that what Apple does best is …

Microsoft May Provide Backing To Yahoo Bid To Protect Bing

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Having escaped the Yahoo farce five years ago (more by luck than judgement I have to say) Microsoft may yet have a say in the future of the Keystone Cops Comedy Search Company. As Marissa Meyer and the Yahoo Board face challenges from activist shareholders, unhappy with the way the company and its proposed sell-off is being run, so rumours are leaking that Microsoft may be prepared to back takeover bids with cash.
The upside for Microsoft is clear here, Bing is contractually bound with Yahoo, even if the latter has been desperately trying to cut loose. If a new owner decided to reroute Yahoo's Search business through Google all the recent gains made by Bing in search market share would completely disappear.
Kara Swisher, writing in Re/code claims that the current Yahoo board believes its non-Alibaba business is worth around $10bn. Presumably, in order to finish writing the article, she had to pick herself up off the floor after being given that particular gem of modern comedy.
Th…

Microsoft Naively Trusts AI Bot To Twitter

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You've got to applaud the sheer innocence of the Microsoft AI team, who allowed their newest creation - Tay.AI - out into the wild for a few hours yesterday with the intention of tapping into the Twitter firehose and develop its ability to hold sensible conversations.
Alternatively the team could have just spent the day walking around the halls of Microsoft's R&D campus with 'kick-me' notices fastened to their backs. Would probably have been less painful.
Anyone who has ever experienced Twitter would have told them what a open discussion the forum makes possible, even in these more restrictive times when saying the wrong thing on Twitter can get you a police team, lawyer or SWAT team faster than you can say... well practically anything I suppose.
The sort of language and views that Tay.AI was espousing after a few hours of getting tweaked by Twitter users would have had an American presidential candidate blushing. And for Microsoft that was a particularly painful …

Windows 10 Mobile Needs Screen Mirroring Fix To Save Continuum

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One of the problems identified with Microsoft's ground breaking Continuum feature in Windows 10 Mobile is that not all apps support the second screen configuration. That shouldn't be a show stopper if you want to use your Lumia as a PC replacement though. 
The USB-C standard supports the use of cheap HDMI/VGA adapters and as a result you can mirror your screen to a monitor and use any application on the big screen pretty well. Pair a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse (or use a multi functional adapter to connect everything) and you should be good to go. 
However it seems that Microsoft hasn't done a great job of disabling the onscreen keyboard when a physical device is present. The net result is that in some applications you can't see what your doing because it overlays almost all of your content. 
Whilst I understand that Continuum is the future, until the majority of apps support it, this is a good workaround for most use cases. 
Microsoft needs to stamp on this bug quic…

Citroën Launches Retro E-Mehari EV

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This is the latest EV to hit the roads, or it is if you live in France anyway. It's the Citroën E-Mehari, a homage to the late sixties plastic utility vehicle that was popular in parts of France and French overseas territories. This one packs an electric motor, rather than the old air cooled twin that characterised Citroëns of that vintage. At €25,000 it's a reasonably priced EV too, if you set aside the complete absence of practicality anyway.
You would need to factor in battery rental costs for the true picture though. As with some other EVs in Europe you can't buy the pack and have to rent it on a four year lease. Although those lease payments would remain less than the cost of fuelling a petrol version of the Mehari for all but very low mileage drivers. By paying the battery pack you're guaranteed a shiny new one at the end of the rental period, useful if it's capacity is showing signs of deterioration.
Cute though it appears in the video, I'd imagine it'…