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Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

Zebedeu Re:Physical keyboards make no sense anymore (539 comments)

Except ....your last sentence doesn't apply to the historical users of slide phones: People who send emails for a living. They may need that keyboard at night.

I don't see how a good keyboard case wouldn't work in that scenario.

I also do not agree with your reasons for why they are not produced - your suggestions have been refuted elsewhere in the comments - For examples, the keyboards have been very reliable and rarely fail.

Some of them are great. Others have had hinge problems, the keys have bad tactile feedback or are too close together or have otherwise been panned by reviewers, and other assorted problems.
The reality of manufacturing is that the more components you add, the more likely one of them is to cause problems. This is especially true for moving parts.

Look, I'm not saying you don't have a valid reason to want a modern smartphone with a physical keyboard.
It's just that having been briefly involved with mobile phone manufacturing, I understand the realities of mass-manufacturing complex devices with increasing variability between models to satisfy market requirements.

Unfortunately for you, your market segment is just too small to justify the problems caused by adding a physical keyboard.
Hence my suggestion that an external keyboard might be a good halfway solution. Just like my phone doesn't come with a car holder, so I got one separately for when it's needed.

You could also say that the market isn't really small just nobody is even trying to satisfy it, which may be a valid argument but it seems to me that some manufacturers will try to sell such devices from time to time and it's telling that they don't follow up on those efforts.

8 hours ago

Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

Zebedeu Physical keyboards make no sense anymore (539 comments)

There are a few reasons why hardware keyboards have been phased out in favour of touchscreen-only:

- They're more expensive to produce
- They're more likely to break
- They force manufacturers to produce individual versions for each country they want to sell in (and make it harder to move stock between countries)
- They add bulk
- They're not easy to get right, and a bad keyboard will break your product
- Software inputs have improved greatly (swipe, voice input and predictive dictionaries have all become excellent) and are extremely flexible

If you really want a physical keyboard you can get a small bluetooth keyboard. Some of them are even available with custom covers for a lot of phones, so it's all together in the same package.
It seems for me to be the best of both worlds. Taking the phone on a business trip where you need to type a lot? Take the keyboard with you.
Going out at night? leave it at home and get by with the touchscreen.

2 days ago

TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

Zebedeu Re:Is this new? (702 comments)

To give the screeners their due, they let me go after a few minutes - after I'd heard their complaints about the potential radiation doses they and the passengers were receiving from the backscatter X-ray thingers

You're a much luckier man than me.
When I refused to go through the cancer machines and opted for the pat-down, they had me wait for over 10 minutes.
They knew I was with other friends (who decided to risk a dose of radiation to save on a minor inconvenience - we had plenty of time) and decided to be as annoying as the law would allow them to be.

Didn't learn my lesson though. I'm not stepping into one of those machines if I have a choice, thankyouverymuch.

about three weeks ago

TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

Zebedeu Re:Is this new? (702 comments)

DSLR, sorry I wasn't specific enough :-)

Come to think of it, I've also had trouble with my old external HD. It was one of the old huge ones which required an external power supply, and it was checked almost without fail (they took it to a separate machine to check for explosives).
I've also had trouble with a sandbag stand for my GPS holder, but usually I'm just asked to show it to them and they know what it is once they see it.

about three weeks ago

TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

Zebedeu Is this new? (702 comments)

Is this a new rule?
I've been asked before to power up my SLR when going through the security check.
It never happened with any other device, so I always thought it was some particular feature of the SLR which made it seem like evil stuff to the scanners.

I believe this already happened in Europe and Asia, so I can't say if they weren't doing this in the US before.
In the paranoid minds of the Airport security personel it actually makes sense. From a scan it's impossible to distinguish legitimate circuitry from bomb or plane-hacking components.

Not that I agree with the general airport security apparatus. I wish it were more like taking a train, or a bus, but I digress.

about three weeks ago

Airbus E-Fan Electric Aircraft Makes First Flight

Zebedeu Re:Carbon neutral aviation biofuel ... (160 comments)

There are other advantages to electric engines besides the pollution aspect.
For one, they're much quieter, which is one of the major problems with modern air transportation. The engines are also a lot simpler, reducing maintenance costs and risk of failure during flight.
Electricity is also a much more versatile form of energy than combustibles, since we know how to generate it from almost every other energy form.

Imagine a hybrid electric plane. You could charge it at the airport and take off on battery power. Then recharge the batteries during flight and land on electric power again. Just by doing that you enormously decrease air and sound pollution near urban areas.
It might even be feasible to install solar panels in the plane surfaces to get a bit of extra efficiency going (not sure it'd be worth it, just throwing the idea in).

Or install a wind turbine at the back - the faster you fly, the more energy you generate! :-)

But seriously, the use of electric engines to power aircraft is the most interesting knowledge coming out of this prototype. I doubt that Airbus can contribute much to the current research on battery storage, but electric flight might be advantageous even if you're powering it with gas generators for the most part.
As technology evolves, you start to rely less and less on the generators until you can remove them completely.

about 2 months ago

First Arrest In Japan For 3D-Printed Guns

Zebedeu Re:Hey Tim (274 comments)

I'm not Swiss but my understanding is that they can fire the guns in shooting ranges.

about 3 months ago

First Arrest In Japan For 3D-Printed Guns

Zebedeu Re:Hey Tim (274 comments)

Every adult in Switzerland has an assault rifle, but (almost) none of them have any bullets to go with it.
You see, the assault riffle is issued when you finish the military training, and you're supposed to maintain it until the day when the country gets invaded and the government distributes the rounds through the populace.

As to your other point, you may not be able to stop the flow of illegal products, but you sure as hell can make it inconvenient enough that only people who really want it can get it, at a risk to themselves.
Most of the gun injuries in the US today can be attributed to either accidents or heat-of-the-moment exchanges. In most of those situations guns simply wouldn't be available if firearms were forbidden.

about 3 months ago

Did the Ignition Key Just Die?

Zebedeu Re:No, thank you. (865 comments)

I can't even lock the doors if the key is inside.. the car won't let it happen.

Honest question: so the car won't let you lock the doors once you're inside it? That must make driving through dodgy parts of town a bit scary.

about 3 months ago

Japanese and Swiss Watchmakers Scoff At Smartwatches

Zebedeu Re:I agree (399 comments)

Yeah, I think that a smartwatch along the lines that you describe would be a plausible consumer product. For me, limited battery life would be the killer, but that might have solutions. One that I would like to see is ePaper for the display, which would also help with outdoor readability. On a watch, you could experiment with color schemes that are not your Kindle classic black text on white background. With a good designer, an ePaper smartwatch could look a lot like a Swiss fancy watch, but pack all sorts of functionality inside. (I've been convinced for years that the "bigger and fatter" trend in men's watches is a scheme designed to pave the way for wrist computers.)

The Pebble was supposed to have an e-ink screen, but it turns out they're using some type of LCD sort of like your standard digital wrist watch.
I guess the problem with e-ink is that even the fastest displays are too slow for interactive UIs. E-books sort of pull it off since the benefits while reading outweigh the horrible interface responsiveness, but for a smartwatch I think it might not work.

I think a lot will depend on whether they can design a non-obtrusive charging method. My idea is to make a little inductive platform that you keep in your bathroom, which is the resting place for the watch as you shower. When you are done with your shower and put the watch back on, it has a guaranteed week of normal-use battery life. (Not that users would only shower once a week, but sometimes they won't shower at home and they shouldn't have to worry about watch death.)

I don't care much as long as it's easy to plug in and take out, like with an inductive charger, then it should be fine.
A lot of people I don't typically wear their watches at home, and I guess for even those who do, most don't sleep with them on. Especially if it's a heavy piece, as smartwatches will be for the foreseeable future.
For me, dropping the watch in the charging pad next to my bed, or the door won't be a big deal.
In any case I don't see a big difference between needing a charge every 2 days or every 5. You'll be getting into the habit of charging it every night or risk forgetting to do it when the battery is running out.

The most important bit is the battery life. The Pebble is supposed to last 2-5 days and the Samsung Gear will last you a day if you're lucky (but that's a beast of a watch, hardware wise).
Nobody is sharing details on the upcoming Android Wear devices, which is annoying but expected. Hopefully it'll be at least a week, but honestly I'm not too hopeful.

about 3 months ago

Japanese and Swiss Watchmakers Scoff At Smartwatches

Zebedeu Re:I agree (399 comments)

I've been quite interested in smartwatches in general because I actually think they can be quite useful, depending on the implementation.
I haven't had the courage to get one yet since technically the current offerings seem to be a bit on the weak side, and they tend to look the equivalent of those calculator waches from the 80s.
The Motorola watch seems to be the first smartwatch to actually look the part, and hopefully the Android Wear thing will cover the other part. We'll see.

Anyway, I do not see the watch as redundant to my phone, but rather as an extension of my phone's screen.
Take the following scenarios where you'd typically be fetching your phone from your pocket or holding it in hand for a long time only to glance at it from time to time:
- Jogging
- Using walking directions
- Checking why the phone just vibrated (or if it vibrated)
- Controlling the music player and the volume
- Checking the time (ah!)

You don't need fancy hardware for any of that. You phone already does all those things, so all you need is a screen, battery, weak processor and basic input.

Look at the reverse situation: why would you want to watch a video on your phone if you have a huge flat-screen TV in front of you? Ideally, you'd make that TV an output to your phone and watch the video there - the kind of thing which is starting to be possible with devices like Chromecast, or those DLNA boxes.

about 3 months ago

Japanese and Swiss Watchmakers Scoff At Smartwatches

Zebedeu Short sighted (399 comments)

Company representatives seemed sure that people in practice would be uninterested in constantly recharging their watches and downloading software updates just to tell time.

That's short sighted. Smartwatches serve as much to tell time as smartphones serve to make calls, i.e. it's one of the basic functions, but it does so much more that the original use is not even the main one any more.
Nobody will charge their watch every night just to tell the time, but they may do it if they think it's worth the hassle for the extra functionality.

Of course, there's still the argument to be made whether those extra functions are something people will actually want, but it just seems these companies aren't even asking themselves the right questions, and may be setting themselves up to a very big surprise.

about 3 months ago

Google's New Camera App Simulates Shallow Depth of Field

Zebedeu Re:A more interesting feature is vertical video (127 comments)

It's only for video. Vertical pictures do not get the overlay.

In fact, the new app now allows for vertical panorama shots, which is something I had found lacking ever since that feature first appeared on Android.

about 3 months ago

How Cochlear Implants Are Being Blamed For Killing Deaf Culture

Zebedeu Re:Vaccines killed measles culture... (510 comments)

Airplanes killed passenger rail culture.

Don't worry, over-the-top airport security is bringing it back.

about 4 months ago

Linus Torvalds Suspends Key Linux Developer

Zebedeu Re:Is it wise to use Systemd? (641 comments)

Not to defend Kay, but the system not booting is the result of another bug which was immediately fixed: systemd had some assert which was wrongly spamming log messages when debug was activated.

The discussion then turned around the more general idea of having a user-space application listening to kernel debug settings instead of listening only to settings under its own namespace.
I don't feed qualified to answer on the technical part, but from what I read it was at least clear to me that Kay's general arrogance and unwillingness to cooperate towards a solution have completely justified Linus' action.

about 4 months ago

European Parliament Votes For Net Neutrality, Forbids Mobile Roaming Costs

Zebedeu Re:Touristy places will be in for a surprise.. (148 comments)

Yes, I would. Because oddly, when I'm on holiday I'm actually more interested in doing holiday type stuff than spending my time using the internet.

I find I use the internet a lot more when I'm visiting some place than when I'm out and about in my own city - when I manage to find a convenient way to go online, which is rare.
This is because in my home city I don't need to check my maps to know where I'm going, I don't care as much about the weather since if the weather turns I can always find something else to do, I don't need translation services nor do I need to look for a decent restaurant as often, and I don't need to be checking for hotels since I have my comfy bed waiting for me.
I'm also a lot less active in social networks when I'm at home because there's a lot less interesting going on to justify posting.

I don't mean to say that I'm glued to my phone when I'm on vacation. In fact it's the reverse: I can optimize my time by searching for what I want more efficiently and get back to tourisming.

about 4 months ago

Subversion Project Migrates To Git

Zebedeu Re:April Fools! (162 comments)

Again, this is in no way git specific. Commit hooks are well supported in svn, and tools like hudson and jenkins handle continuous integration with svn just as well as with git.

It wasn't my intention to imply that these techniques are unique to git.
The original poster mentioned liking SVN better because of the command structure, and I was pointing out that that's possible as well with git. My point was that for certain corporate environments (or large teams in general) git can be made more centralized without losing many of its benefits.

about 4 months ago

Subversion Project Migrates To Git

Zebedeu Re:April Fools! (162 comments)

I've used git in a traditional corporate environment, and done right, it can be a lot more powerful than SVN.

"Done right" means you have someone dedicated to the role of "git master" who merges the team's commits into the master repository.
This is what Linus does, and it works to great effect. The great advantage is that individuals and teams can very easily work on their private branches before merging into mainline.

The second method is to set up a server which runs automatic tests on all commits and guarantees at least that the git history remains clean and contributions do not break the build.

From my experience, people tend to resist git because the concepts are a bit difficult to get in, especially when coming from other SCMs. It doesn't help that git uses many of the same nomenclature as other systems for slightly different operations.
However once the concept starts to settle in, git is actually quite simple and its use becomes second nature.

I don't know mercurial that well. From my experiments and what I've read on the Internet, it's essentially the same as git. Some people have strong opinions (like you seem to have) towards one or the other, but I've found that it's mostly down to small differences.
However, to me it makes no sense to use mercurial when almost all open-source projects already use git. Using mercurial only means you have to deal with two SCMs rather than one.

about 4 months ago

Google Unveils Android Wear

Zebedeu Re:I prefer my wearables untethered (103 comments)

Now wearable computer, that would be interesting, but this sounds more like some Android gadgets than a wearable computer.

If you already have an Android phone you already take everywhere, then it makes more sense.
An independent device would certainly be more useful, but that would greatly increase cost and size, and increase battery drain. And most of that would just be replicating things your smartphone already does.
Given the hardware constraints, it seems that this method is a decent compromise, at least for a first-generation device.

Personally I think the round version from Motorola looks good enough that I'd consider wearing it. It actually looks like a watch, even if a bit too thick for my taste, though I like my watches to be as thin as possible (I tend to buy Skagen).

The LG just looks too much like a gadget to me, sort of like the Pebble and the Samsung Gear, which is why I never got any of those.

about 4 months ago



Nokia shows first Meego phone

Zebedeu Zebedeu writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Zebedeu (739988) writes "Nokia has finally shown on video what Meego looks like running on their new N9.

Makes one wonder if it really is the best decision for them to go with WP7, or if a successful product launch might lead them to rethink their long-term smartphone strategy."

Link to Original Source


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