Showing posts from August 16, 2017

F1: One More Year For Räikkönen

Ferrari have announced that Kimi Räikkönen's contract with the team has been extended for another year.

The decision to retain the 2007 World Champion is driven by some interesting challenges in the driver matket for 2018.

Ferrari's first choice is Max Verstappen, however the Dutch hot shoe is tied to Red Bull for another year. As is his team mate and second choice Daniel Riccardo.

Meanwhile Sebastian Vettel is out of contract with the Italian team at the end of this year and there are reports of a gap between the two parties on the terms of an extension.

Re-signing Räikkönen makes sense in both these scenarios. If Vettel chooses to leave the team retains continuity and if he chooses to stay the length of Räikkönen's contract doesn't prevent a frenzied pursuit of either Red Bull driver for 2019.

As a side benefit fans get to see the most popular racer on the grid for at least another season. And something which pleases the fans is an increasingly rare thing in F1.

Will The iPad Replace The Mac? These Videos Say Yes

Apple may have been a bit lost with its iPad product line-up in recent years but the imminent arrival of iOS 11 will change that. Far from the end game of supplanting the Mac as Apple's desktop offering, the new iPad OS (for that is what it has effectively become) is a decisive first step in making the iPad Apple's desktop offering.
Take a look at the above video. Then ask yourself when was the last time Apple did anything as exciting or compelling with Mac OS. I can't remember - and I'm pretty sure you can't.
And there are five more videos just as exciting as this.
No, iOS 11 won't transform the iPad into a desktop overnight and the Mac isn't going anywhere soon. But both things are going to happen. The world wants flexibility and the Mac can't be that platform.
The iPad, however, most certainly can.

Android Oreo May Well Be Sweet, But Will It Fix Android's Biggest Problems?

Google has confirmed Android 8.0 will officially by Android Oreo, its second link up with a popular brand in the Android release naming game. Google promises the newest version of its mobile platform will be 'safer, smarter, more powerful & sweeter than ever' which sounds promising, but how many Android devices will ever see it?
The biggest downside of choosing to use Android remains the uncertainty around updates. Will you get them? When? How far behind the curve will you fall whilst waiting? Most importantly, how many vulnerabilities will be exposed which won't be patched whilst your waiting.
There was a reasonable path to avoid this mess whilst Google was still releasing Nexus phones. Now that it has gone to the high end with the Pixel, Android buyers looking for some security are at the mercy of OEMs and carriers.
Which isn't a great place to be.
So the question with Oreo remains, has Google done something to remove the delays and roadblocks which beset Androi…

Tesla Bonds Trading Down On Model 3 Production Concerns

Tesla is the largest US Motor Company, if your metric is market capitalisation anyway. The company leveraged that fact to push a $1.8bn bond issue on to the markets last week. With a return of 5.3% Tesla looked to entice investors to provide the funds which would allow it to produce the Model 3 in sufficient volume to satisfy customer demand.
Those bonds are now trading below their sale price, suggesting money people are less than convinced that Tesla can manage the short-term and medium term challenges that a stacked order book and a company new to mass production present.
Moody's is rating the bonds as junk - an indication of the risk it sees in lending money to Tesla. With Tesla almost certainly going to need to issue more bonds in future, even if only to fund development of new models, this poor credit rating could prove to be a problem. Underwriters will be less likely to support future releases making it harder for res a to raise money - and more likely to fail.
Strong cust…

Do You Google With Anything But Google?

The US Supreme Court is being asked to rule whether the word Google is still a valid trademark. Cybersquatters who lost domain names after Google sued them for trademark infringement will argue that the use of the word Google has passed into common language as a verb and is no longer an enforceable trademark.
Which would be the case if you said you were going to 'Google that' and then went off and used a generic search engine to find what you're looking for. 
But you don't, I don't and everyone else who says they'll 'Google it' doesn't either. We absolutely mean that we will open a webpage and use Google to find what we're looking for.
The case is a nonsense and should be thrown out accordingly.

Bing Is Far From Unloved, In Some Regions Anyway

When Bing went down last week it appeared that nobody noticed. There was no outcry on Twitter, the news sites weren't reporting mass panic and the world carried on as if nothing had happened.
Perhaps Microsoft's Bing team were stung into action by tech sites reporting that nobody noticed the outage. What ever the reason, the Bing ads Twitter account tweeted the above image, pointing out that Bing is more popular than you would think.
Well yes and no.
I'm more than a little surprised that one in three searches in the US are completed with Bing. One in four in the UK and Taiwan; one in five in Hong Kong and France. On the flip side, just 4% of searches in Brazil and 7% in India are less surprising.
Globally almost one in ten searches are performed in Bing. Which leaves Google the lion's share. 
It doesn't seem likely that Microsoft can move that needle significantly without applying some external market forces. For example buying the default search spot on iOS or en…

Angry Man Just About Done With Apple

Losing loyal customers is a bad thing for any business, even one the size of Apple. I'm pretty sure Apple has lost this guy's business.

If You're Putting Dual Cameras On A Phone, Make Them Interesting

Which smartphone takes the best pictures? That's the Microsoft Lumia 950. If you exclude dead platforms it's either the Samsung Galaxy S8 or Google Pixel.
All those dual camera phones seem to fall a bit short. 
Of the dual camera phones on the market, it's the iPhone 7 Plus and LG G6 which receive the most positive reviews.
Why? Probably because they try to do something a little different with the lenses available to them. The iPhone offers a 2x zoom, whilst the LG  takes wide angle modes.
Those faux-bokeh effects, or using mono information to enhance picture contrast just don't stand out. Making better photos is okay - but these are smartphone cameras and sometimes it amounts to putting lipstick on a pig. 
Doing something different however, is always worth it. Cameras are one of the few differentiating features of phones that almost slavishly follow the same design. So do something interesting with them, please.

First Positive News From Diesel Emissions Scandal: VW To Launch Electric Microbus

With the fallout from its emissions test defeat devices still very real, Volkswagen has been on an environmental hiding to nothing. Still, things had to get better eventually, and it looks like that time will be 2022.
That's when Volkswagen will turn its ID.Buzz concept into a production reality, with a Microbus and a Kombi version to suit passenger and commercial customers.
Just as the modern Beetle riffed on the original air-cooled cult car to become a success, so the Microbus, with its own cult hero ancestor, should be similarly popular.
Having given itself five years to get the ID.Buzz into production, Volkswagen has to deliver an EV with ground-breaking range and technical capability if it is to have any credibility at all. I have no doubts that it will achieve this. Completely.

F1: Honda Draws Another Blank - No Toro Rosso Deal

Honda would like to add another team to its roster, in the hope that it will benefit from the feedback from running its engine in two different cars. The only problem seems to be that nobody wants to be that second team.
In truth, nobody wants to be the first team either. Right now McLaren would take any other engine offered to them for 2018, if it could solve the many financial problems which would result. For example buying out of its Honda contract, paying Fernando Alonso's salary and paying for the alternative engines themselves.
Having failed to make good on its deal with Sauber, which was announced and then hurriedly withdrawn by the team, Honda looked to be in good shape to pull together a deal with Toro Russo. Now that deal has died too.
I suspect it was Honda who killed that deal, probably realising that if Toro Rossi bought their way out of their Renault contract, it would release a space in Renault's supply for McLaren, who would then be free to abandon Honda.

Long-term Health Problems From An iPad Desk Setup - Don't Do This

Look, this is a slick looking setup, but unless you want to store up significant health problems for your future, I'd really suggest you avoid anything like it. If you're really intent on using your iPad as a desktop computer you need to get the Lightning to HDMI dongle and mirror your iPad screen onto an external monitor.
You need to have the top of your monitor level with your eye line and it needs to be far enough away to be able to scan the screen without tilting your head. At the same time you should be able to use your keyboard with your arms at your side and elbows at around 90°.
The need to touch the screen on the iPad means it can't be positioned in a way which keeps your head in the right position - or vice versa. With the main display in the right place the iPad can be placed much closer to the user to allow touch screen interaction without huge arms movements being required.
Using this setup for any length of time will cause you serious neck and back problems…

Handwriting For Fun And Profit

Great video demonstrating the skill and care that goes into annotating architectural drawings. If this doesn't persuade you to do something about your handwriting, nothing will.

I Replaced My iPad With A Surface Pro And It Totally Rocks

We seem to hear a lot about how an iPad can replace a PC and become your only computing device these days. The truth is that for most PC users and most use cases this is emphatically not true. I'm rather more interested in the opposite journey. Can you PC replace your tablet and become your only computing device by approaching the problem from the other direction?
So when I updated to the new Surface Pro 2017 I parked my iPad Air 2 and my Galaxy Tab S2; and set out to discover if a Windows 10 tablet was a viable option.
I've now had the new Surface Pro for two months and it has been  my only computing device for almost all of that time. All the tasks that used to happen on one of my tablets now get completed here. There isn't a single one that I've found in any way troubling to either find an appropriate Windows software package or use the browser to complete.
As has been said before, tablet users do very few things with their tablets. It's a second screen when wa…

OneNote For Windows 10 Updates Close The Gap To Desktop Version

It seems unthinkable, but over the last few months I have found myself gradually moving towards the Windows Store version of OneNote as my choice of notetaker. It has improved out of sight, especially if I think of the shortcomings of the version which launched with Windows 10 nearly three years ago.
Whilst OneNote 2016 remains the best all out version for a number of reasons - ink to text and note organisation primarily - I find that OneNote has evolved into a good enough approximation for me to use for notetaking almost all of the time. Audio to handwriting synchronisation is about the one thing missing that would prevent me for using it for all notetaking.
The recent addition of ink to math to the Windows Store version of OneNote strongly suggests that Microsoft sees the Store version as the future and key legacy features will make their way across to OneNote over time.
For now however, both versions are required to get the best OneNote experience.

An Apple Television Just Doesn't Seem Very Likely

Images are circulating of what claims to be a large screen Apple TV undergoing testing. Aside from the suspect nature of the images themselves, common sense should tell us that such a product just doesn't seem plausible.

AppleTV, an iOS based device which is a must buy (and a must upgrade when it comes down to it) for most Apple owners fills the niche for Apple very nicely indeed.

There's not really a gap in Apple's lineup for an actual television. Nor would a television sell in the sort of numbers which would make one worth pursuing.

What's missing in the Apple product portfolio is the TV service to enable Apple to build its revenue from the large number of people who have bought an AppleTV.

The more plausible rumour is that Apple has been shopping in Hollywood and has a large purse ($1bn has been mentioned) to allow it to buy the shows it needs to build a service.

So, an Apple TV, no. An Apple TV service offering, much more likely.

Nokia's New Flagship Targets Android Update Mess As USP

Nokia's first flagship Android device was unveiled today and the company has set its stall out to complete a reversal of the collapse which wiped the name from the top of the phone sales charts.
Since HMD acquired the rights to use the Nokia brand it has pushed out to some respectable phones with limited ambitions. Low and mid-rangers designed to compete in the most forgiving, if competitive part of the market.
Now with the Nokia 8, there's signs that leveraging the power of Android and the remaining loyalty to the Nokia brand, the company has the props to take the battle to growing brands like Huawei, Oppo and Xiaomi; and can legitimately target volume sales in the smartphone space.
As expected there's lots of Zeiss co-branding, renewing a partnership that pre-dates Microsoft's purchase of the original Nokia smartphone division. In this case it means dual rear cameras and a single front facing cameras, which all sport 13mp sensors and can all be used in conjunction t…

Sony To Bring Battalion Of New Phones To IFA 2017

It's almost time for IFA, Berlin's huge tech show and Sony will be one of the first OEMs to break out new smartphones.
Leaks lead us to expect three new devices, an updated XZ1, packing the innards of the XZ Premium into a standard 5.2" screened device; the XZ1 Compact, which will be a 4.7" version of the same device; and the X1, a replacement for the original X and a device which Sony said wouldn't happen six months ago.
There are wilder rumours that Sony has a bezel-less phone coming too. However given the company's inability to keep its new devices secret I'm not convinced this one will happen. The mid-range XA1 will probably be as close as Sony goes this year.
Sony does seem to pushing a lot of phones out of the door this year. I'm not sure whether that's a sign that the last two years of (small) successes have persuaded the Mobile division that it can once again be a major player in the market (seems unlikely); or because the company has los…

Travelling Lighter - Surface Pro 2017 Battery Life Impresses

Microsoft boasts that the new 2017 Surface Pro has greatly improved battery life - 13.5 hours being the claimed runtime from a single charge. That sounds to me like a comfortable working day of activity so last week, when the opportunity presented itself to gauge my confidence in that figure there was no way I wasn't going to take up the challenge.
My day would begin with a 6.30 flight out of Auckland, arriving in Wellington for back to back meetings and planning sessions until lunchtime, followed by an afternoon of technical workshops and design sessions, before ending with a 7pm flight back to Auckland.
In that time my Surface Pro would serve duty as my notepad - I use OneNote to capture everything, all of the time; as well as being my link back to the office, email and Skype for Business via a Citrix VDI session. And I wasn't planning on carrying a charger.
In fact my travel pack was going to be about as light as its possible to be. My Surface Pro (with Surface Pen and Typ…

Siemens To Expand eHighway Electric Truck Trial To Germany

Last year Siemens and Scania came together to create the first ever eHighway installation, adding overhead power delivery and pantograph equipped trucks to a 2km stretch of the E16 highway in Sweden. With the Swedish government looking for fossil fuel independence by 2030, this was an important trial for all concerned.
Also a successful one, given news that the trial is to be extended to Germany, with a 10km stretch of the A5 autobahn to receive the overhead power delivery infrastructure.
Siemens claims that the hybrid trucks are twice as efficient as diesel trucks, although results of the Swedish trial have yet to be published. It's hard to see how a short 2km stretch of eHighway can support such claims, however the science seems good.
After all, for any EV a large part of the problem is carrying sufficient energy to complete a journey in as carefree a manner as a combustion engine vehicle. Remove the need for extensive power storage and that equation changes significantly.