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Showing posts from October 21, 2018

Formula E: Pascal Wehrlein To Race For Mahindra

Having extracted himself from a contract with Mercedes which took his F1 career down a dead end, Pascal Wehrlein became the latest driver to jump ship to Formula E, when he was announced as Jerome D'Ambrosio's team mate at Mahindra for Season Five.Wehrlein looked to be the real deal earlier in his career, however a bizarre Race of champions accident - colliding with Felipe Massa after the chequered flag had fallen - caused him back injuries which cost him race time and dampened his performance at Sauber in 2017.Mahindra is the only existing team to completely renew its driving line-up between seasons four and five. Having raced into an early lead in both driver and team championships last season, Mahindra and Felix Rosenqvist faded badly towards season's end. Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld has looked a shadow of his former self in the last couple of seasons.D'Ambrosio and Wehrlein will both be looking for a fast start to Season Five, Mahindra has shown in the past it can del…

Apple Is Looking At Freemium For Its TV Service

At this point it is a matter of when, not if, Apple launches its TV service onto an expectant world. Aside from the rumours claiming the service is imminent, there's also the small clue offered by the $1bn it has sunk into exclusive programming.No, what's interesting now is how Apple intends to sell the service.Apple device owners will get free access to the channels and programmes Apple is creating. Everyone else is getting nothing. If you don't have an Apple device this isn't for you. Even if you have you'll need Apple TV to watch on the big screen.And that's where Apple wins. The sale of millions of Apple TVs more than covers the cost of Apple's programming. Even more so if it produces hit shows which grab public attention. That could drive the conversion of users from other platforms. Which makes Apple's TV service the ultimate Freemium offering.

F1: Toro Rosso Looking To Alexander Albon For 2019

Looks like Kiwi Brendon Hartley is on his way out of Toro Rosso after team principle Franz Tost confirmed that it had approached the Formula E Nissan team seeking to buyout the Englishman's newly signed contract.Albon was expected to take his place on the Formula E grid with Nissan, as the Japanese brand replaced its Renault stablemate in the series.Given Toro Rosso's association with Honda it's unlikely Nissan would allow Albon to share his time between the two series.As Daniil Kvyat has been confirmed to be returning to Toro Rosso next year - in what is turning into the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton of F1 relationships - it's looking like the curtain is shortly to drop on Hartley's Grand Prix career.

Apple Quotes Teenager $1200 For $11 Fix

Apple has been working hard to prevent customers from being able to get their purchases fixed anywhere but Apple. In the past that has included everything from rendering devices with third-party repairs inoperable to filing Amicus Briefs in favour of John Deere Tractors in its battle to block right to repair legislation.Now the company has scored a massive PR own-goal, when a Genius in one of its Apple Stores quoted a teenager $1000+ to repair his MacBook Air. After being advised to give it up and buy a new computer, the teen took his machine to the repair shop of YouTube's favourite computer repairman, Louis Rossman.Rossman has been outspoken on Apple's repair policies and desire to shut out third-party repair shops. So l imagine there was no little pleasure gained in discovering the cause of the problem to be a faulty cable delivering data from the Hall Sensor to the CPU, making the MBA intermittently behave as if the lid was closed and turn the screen off.The investigation …

iPhone XR Hands On - Every Bit A Premium iPhone

The iPhone XR has replaced the iPhone 8 in Apple’s smartphone line-up, sitting at a price which is equivalent to the top of the iPhone range of two years ago. The iPhone X and subsequent XS have reset expectations of the top of the range price point, so the XR sits in a middle ground, above Android mid-rangers but below premium Android offerings. The XR demands some compromise, but only if you’re directly comparing, side by side with one of its siblings. Otherwise I’d say that it fulfills every requirement of a premium smartphone and stands on its on as part of the smartphone range. The difference in size and screen size between the XR and XS is negligible, especially the screen size, which is equivalent to all intents and purposes. The slightly larger body is again only noticeable when comparing the two side by side. The LCD screen is good - one of the best I’ve seen. Again if you put it side by side with an XS the difference in colour and contrast is obvious, but you’re unlikely to …

Troubling Accusations Against Andy Rubin Dog Google

The New York Times is reporting that Andy Rubin's departure from Google was not the result of a decision to move onto new pastures, but rather the result of an investigation into sexual misconduct whilst an employee. As well as raising questions about Rubin - who Google paid $90m on his departure - there are further questions about Google's handling of other sexual misconduct cases.Getting into the details raises all sorts of questions though.Why were Rubin and Richard DeVaul not summarily dismissed for their behaviour? DeVaul admitted harrassment of a job applicant; whilst Rubin's various relationships (contrary to Google's policies) and evidence of treatment of women as possessions should have been sufficient to show a chain of bad behaviour, even if the complaint itself wasn't provable.Accusations against David Drummond seem rather spurious by comparison. He was in a relationship with an employee in his department, which wasn't declared by either party - and…

Are Windows 10 Updates Failing Because Microsoft Doesn't Care Any More?

The car crash which has been the Windows 10 October release hasn't been good for users or Microsoft. Whilst the company has promised to recover files deleted by the initial buggy release; further problems with the re-release of the update have shaken confidence in Microsoft's bi-annual release cycle.Windows 10 still earns Microsoft money, but as its latest financial statement shows, it's a declining revenue stream and the company's future seems to be more and more tied to Azure and Office 365.So perhaps it's understandable that Windows is no longer getting the full attention of the best and brightest in the company. 

Apple Files New Desktops And Laptop With EEC, Clues To Next Week’s Announcements

Next Tuesday Apple will be announcing new hardware. We can be pretty certain that new iPad Pros are incoming and now a regulatory filing with the Eurasian Economic Committee spills the beans on what else is new. Apple has registered three desktops and one laptop with the EEC. That suggests the iMac is getting an update in both 21” and 27” versions. The third desktop could be the rumoured new Mac Mini (possible, but unlikely); the Mac Pro (highly unlikely) or an update to the iMac Pro (probable but boring). The laptop will almost certainly be a new MacBook, tasked with replacing both the MacBook Air and current i3 MacBook. A cheaper, less powerful version of the current MacBook or a new design entirely?The iPad Pros are likely to be the stars of the show, but it’s looking like this could be Apple’s biggest event in a while, at least in terms of the amount of hardware released. 

EU Legislation Has Opened A Window For Microsoft To Revive Its Smartphone Ambitions

As a result of the anti-competitive behaviour fine which the EU handed out to Google, and the changes Google made to Android to comply with the EU’s directive, Microsoft has an opportunity to re-enter the smartphone market. Previously, to build an Android phone - which is the only option available to it now - Microsoft would either have to put Google’s apps front and centre in order to get access to the Play Store; or give up the Play Store and leave customers with no options for buying apps. Now, Microsoft is able to build an Android phone which is loaded only with Microsoft’s apps and services - Cortana, Outlook, Edge, Office 365, OneDrive, etc. - and still offer the Play Store. It could also install its own App Store, in a bid to create a Play Store competitor in the long run. Of course this will never happen. Microsoft is so focused on the US and servicing the US market that building a device which could only be sold in the EU would be completely alien to the company’s corporate c…

Tesla Reports Record Profits In Q3, Boosts Model 3 Production Once More

Tesla made a profit of $311 last quarter, a result of a massive boost in Model 3 deliveries. It’s only the company’s third ever profitable quarter and by far the biggest return it has achieved. This is a turning point for the company. With Model 3 back orders stretching into the future and manufacturing output sufficient to service that demand; Tesla has everything in place to maintain a profitable operation going forward. With several debts coming due in the near future, this news couldn’t have come at a better time for Tesla. It’s now sitting on enough cash to maintain operations and service debts without having to raise more capital. 

Google’s Pixel 3 Uses Proprietary Fast Wireless Charging

Google’s new Pixel phones are their first to support wireless charging. However you won’t be able to use a standard fast wireless charger with the Google duo. Google has implemented its own standard for fast wireless charging and manufacturers will have to go through the company’s certification program to allow a wireless charger to juice up a Pixel 3 at anything more than 5W. That’s not actually such a bad thing. Fast charging damages batteries in the long term, prematurely reducing their ability to hold charge. Perhaps Google’s new standard reduces the impact of this. Either way, I’d recommend avoiding fast charging, wired or wireless, completely. There are very few modern phones which can’t last a day between charges. If you have wireless charging get a standard 5W charging pad and drop your phone onto it whenever you aren’t using it. It will reduce the number of charge cycles the battery takes and the heating of the battery.It’s a lot more convenient than plugging in all the time,…

The BBC Would Have Better Luck With Top Gear If It Stopped Trying To Clone Clarkson And Co.

Love them or hate them, you have to agree that Clarkson, Hammond and May had a special chemistry which made Top Gear the programme it was. I've seen other country’s versions of the show and they just don't measure up.That includes the latest incarnations of the British show, following the trio’s departure.Now the BBC is attempting to remix the formula again, by changing hosts for the third time. This time bringing in Paddy McGuinness and Freddie Flintoff to pair with petrolhead Chris Harris.Doesn't sound promising does it?The problem is that the BBC is looking for a new Clarkson, Hammond and May and that's just never going to work. Instead it should take a step back and re-invent Top Gear as a show for today's car enthusiast and not a middle aged car nut’s wet dream. (To be clear, I do count myself in that category).Like an alcoholic returning to the bottle, the BBC seems unable to accept that all which was Top Gear about Top Gear departed with Clarkson and Co. It …

Qualcomm Intros Smart Bluetooth Headset Template With New QCC5100

Qualcomm has launched a new reference design for Bluetooth headsets which makes it trivial for OEMs to integrate Amazon Alexa.The design uses a new QCC5100 chipset specially designed for the purpose, with the promise of better audio quality and longer battery life resulting from an ultra low power consumption design and the integration of both AptX and noise cancelling onboard.The integration of Alexa promises to do much to cancel out Amazon's failure to make headway in the smartphone market. Headsets built on Qualcomm's new platform will be able to communicate directly with the Alexa app to allow for voice requests.Not as seamless as Google Assistant or Siri, which can respond to voice commands through the phone and when locked, but at least an easier way for Alexa fans to fire up the digital assistant without handling their phone.

82% Of US Teens Own iPhones

If you want a great illustration of how Apple is going to win the smartphone war the future generation of buyers is a good market segment to view. Surveyed by Piper Jaffrey, 82% of US teens said they owned an iPhone. That’s absolute domination of the segment. And when asked about what smartphone they intended to buy next 86% said an iPhone, indicating Apple’s position is strengthening not weakening. With buy-in to Apple’s ecosystem happening so early it’s almost certain that these teens will continue to buy Apple products as they age and become more affluent. A whole generation who’ve grown up knowing Apple as not only the most popular smartphone but also the most desirable technology brand.

The iPhone XR Won’t Be Apple’s Best Seller

The iPhone XR is coming down the track, with pre-orders now being accepted and devices making their way into the hands of reviewers. Whilst it’s an interesting device and one which will do well for Apple, I suspect that it won’t be this year’s volume seller. Like last year, when the capability and design of the X made it more popular than the 8 and 8 Plus, I’m expecting Apple buyers to go with the XS and especially the XS Max over the XR. What that will mean is that once again the average selling price of iPhones rises and Apple generates more profits from what looks likely to be a flat market. 

Streaming Video Services Headed For A Car Crash

Netflix has changed the way we consume content, to the detriment of aggregator services like Sky, which offer pricey bundles that just don’t seem relevant any more. The big media companies have seen this happen and are each now looking to grab a piece of the steaming pie. Their methods of doing so threaten to derail the video streaming industry. Content exclusivity, something which Disney looks to be furthest along with, will create silos of content that reduce the value of each streaming service. I just don’t see customers subscribing to a multitude of services to get access to the content they want. Potentially they may decide it isn’t even worth subscribing to one.

Formula E: BMW Blitzes First Gen 2 Testing Session

BMW-Andretti set fastest times in all sessions at the pre-season test in Valencia last week. Antonio Felix Da Costa ended the year with a time five seconds faster that last year. The new Gen 2 car, on its first real outing, clearly promises a massive boost in performance to go along with its greater longevity. Reigning Champion Jean-Eric Verge was second fastest, the meat in a BMW sandwich, with new boy Alex Sims setting third fastest time. Once again Formula E looks likely to provide a dramatic and ultra-competitive season of racing. The new season can’t come fast enough for me.