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Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

knarf Re:Because... (252 comments)

Counterpoint: I bought a Motorola Defy in January 2011. It came with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). Motorola never went beyond Gingerbread on this device. Fortunately, some people - me amongst them but that is beside the point - ported newer versions of Android to this phone. It currently runs the latest available version (Android 4.4.4), it remains to be seen whether it'll be possible to get 'Android L' up and running. I bought the device for about $200 (in Europe, it'd have been cheaper in the US).

While it would have been nice if Motorola had put a bit more energy in producing updates, less in trying to thwart others doing the same, this end up being a non-issue because of the open source nature of Android.

No, you don't need Google to run Android. It runs fine without Google apps. You don't need the play store, there are many alternatives. You don't need Google Mail, Google Maps, Google location services, Google Backup, Google anything. The phone runs fine with one of the many alternatives.

The result? Four of these phones here in the house, all running a late version of Android - between 4.3 and 4.4.4 - and all working fine with whatever software the user wants. One of them runs Google Apps, the others do without.

Is Android the final answer to all your mobile questions? Certainly not, it can be improved in many ways. The good thing is that it is possible to change what you don't like, keep what you like without being tied down by manufacturers plans of forced obsolescence. As long as the hardware is capable of running the most recent release, an enterprising individual or group thereof should be able to get it to run. This only needs to be done *once*, as the results can be distributed without licensing problems. This means that any reasonably popular device will eventually get an update, whether the manufacturer likes it or not.

about a week ago
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iOS 8 Review

knarf Re:No good for older iPhones (216 comments)

Find me an Android from 2010 that can run KitKat.

I'm using one right now!

It currently runs Android 4.4.4, it remains to be seen whether it'll survive to the next ('Android L') release. Some manufacturers claim this won't be possible because of lack of support for the OMAP3 in that release but time will tell whether we'll manage on getting it to run decently anyway.

about two weeks ago
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iOS 8 Review

knarf Re:no wonder apple dropped 16GB machines (216 comments)

No, they're not that complex, nor is the perceived complexity the reason for Google to 'clamp down' on external storage. SD cards in Android phones - and most other phones - may be removable, but in practice they just stay put and are used to extend - or replace - the internal storage in the device.

Google 'clamps down' on external storage because they want you to use 'cloud storage' instead. Apple overcharges for flash storage because they can. Simple as that, really, no need to start looking for 'technical excuses'.

about two weeks ago
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Kernel Developer Dmitry Monakhov Arrested For Protesting Ukraine Invasion

knarf Re:News for nerds ... (205 comments)

And he is doing a noble thing too â" a rare thing among Russians lately, I must add.

No rarer, nor more common than in other times. There are more than 143.000.000 Russians living in Russia after all...

I don't know what forces lie behind the current push towards portraying Russia - the country - as enemy of the 'West' again and the similar push to portray 'the West' and NATO as enemies to Russia but I can only hope that, intelligent as those who frequent this site are supposed to be, you don't give in to this pressure. While the course currently taken by the Russian leadership shows a clear lack of historical insight and will eventually lead to their downfall (with great risk of lives to many, both actively engaged in the pipe-dream of Novorossiya as well as those who just happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time) this does not mean they have the moral support of all of those 143.000.000+ Russians. Just like bad decisions by other governments don't turn their subjects into boogeymen.

It is a strange game, the only way to win is not to play.

about a month ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

knarf Hmmm, lemme see... (635 comments)

I live on a 17th century farm which is heated using a wood-burning stove and a wood-burning cooker. I go out into the forest every year to cut wood, with an axe - and a motorsaw. The axe sees use on difficult trees, for limbing (removing branches) and to set wedges. Once home, the wood is cut to size and split using a splitting maul (a big axe). All the cookware is cast iron. I bake bread in a wood-fired oven. Need I go on? Old technology survived for a reason: it fits its purpose. It isn't broken, it does not need fixing. It might not fit that well in a use-once-and-throw-away consumer society but that is my gain, their loss.

about 1 month ago
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Fotopedia Is Shutting Down; Data Avallable Until August 10

knarf Re:Welcome to the world of the Cloud... (45 comments)

Post-PC is debatable, some people really don't use a 'traditional' personal computer (as in a laptop or desktop running a 'traditional' desktop operating system) any more. Instead, they use a mixed bag of mobile gadgets, slimmed-down laptops running something like ChromeOS, etc.

But... that does not mean the 'P' in 'PC' can be tossed with the garbage. Far from it, now more than ever that P is the most important letter in the acronym soup. It just means you might want to change the acronym to 'Personal Cloud' if you want to stay in the fashionable terminology, or use a more sensible 'PS' as in 'Personal Server' to say what you really mean. That personal server should be somewhere under your own control, not running on a virtual machine in some server room far away. You should be able to pull the plug, literally. You should be able to wipe (or demolish) the storage, again literally.

In other words, just stick a box under the stairs running a free unix of choice, install those services you intend to use, either in the traditional way or using some fancy 'cloud' software like owncloud and use that in combination with your mobile gadgets. Personal Cloud. Personal Server.

Personal.

about 2 months ago
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Earth In the Midst of Sixth Mass Extinction: the 'Anthropocene Defaunation'

knarf Re:But what IS the point they're making? (342 comments)

As someone who studied forestry at the agricultural university in the Netherlands (yes, there is forest in the Netherlands...) I claim there is no need to forego on wood as a construction material. The only thing that needs to go is the clearcut method of forestry with its accompanying monoculture and age-based rotation. Something like the German 'Dauerwald' (http://forestry.oxfordjournals.org/content/70/4/375.full.pdf) can be used instead. These forestry methods don't destroy the habitat while still giving a steady stream of timber. They are suitable for small-scale as well as large-scale forestry. As an added bonus the forest becomes less sensitive to storm damage (always a bonus with the increasing amount of energy in the atmosphere), insect damage (due to the larger variety of trees as well as the richer habitat) and diseases.

about 2 months ago
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Researcher Finds Hidden Data-Dumping Services In iOS

knarf Re:DON'T PANIC (98 comments)

Android: you have the source. Not the source of the binary blobs so the device can still be compromised through those, but the rest is 'up to you'. Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry... no source.

Is Android the bees knees of mobile software? No, far from it. It is up to par with the competition, though. And it is free software (most of it). The non-free bits can be replaced, mostly. The non-replaceable bits... need to be replaceable. In other words, as it stands now Android is a local optimum.

about 2 months ago
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Nathan Myhrvold's Recipe For a Better Oven

knarf Perfection is reached... (228 comments)

...when there is nothing left to take away. Myhrvold seems to think the opposite is true. Did he by any chance work for Microsoft? It would explain the byzantine maze of Windows-related API's...

about 2 months ago
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Apple Announces New Programming Language Called Swift

knarf Re:Bjarne Stroustrup (636 comments)

Another important 'advantage' for Apple is that anything written in this language is locked to their platform, at least for now. The same goes for anything written to the new 'Metal' graphics api. Seen in that light, Swift-the-language and Metal-the-api are comparable to C#-the-language and Direct3D-the-api.

A bit like that quote Jobs 'stole' from a well-known artist: Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal.

about 4 months ago
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Chelsea Clinton At NCWIT: More PE, Less Zuckerberg

knarf Re:Wait... (255 comments)

One of the reasons why veterinarians score so high on the suicide front is that they've made an industry of the 'humane termination' of their subjects. For a vet, the act of ending life is often weekly, if not daily business. It does tend to take the drama out of ending a life by injecting pentobarbital. Combine this with the readily available means of 'termination' and the often stressful work environment and you get the noticed over-representation.

Source: my wife is a horse vet.

On the matter of gender over/under-representation I'd advise everyone to give it a rest already. I studied forestry at the agricultural university in the Netherlands. There were some girls there, maybe 5%? We just organised parties together with the nutrition department which had the opposite gender imbalance - problem solved :-).

about 4 months ago
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New Battery Tech From Japan Could Supercharge EVs

knarf Re: Eight years? Might work if... (81 comments)

I don't have a car (I ride motorbikes instead) but my wife does. I maintain her car, always have.

Oil change? What for? Because they say so? Because the warranty... wait a minute, warranty... that is for new cars, right? We don't buy new cars as that is a waste of money. We buy cars when they're about 4-5 years old, having done about 100.000 km. We get rid of them when they've done about 350.000 km, usually some 6-7 years later. The only time I change the oil is when she's run the thing into some piece of rock again, causing it to piss out the oil somewhere (this happened three times thus far...). Otherwise the oil stays where it is, topped up regularly but otherwise left alone.

We live in Sweden, where cars undergo mandatory inspection every year. This inspection includes an analysis of the exhaust gases for pollutants (hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide). No car I've maintained has ever failed these (stringent) tests, usually the values are at the low edge of what the equipment can detect.

Of course this is all anecdotal evidence, and there are many reports to the contrary, but I claim that the whole oil changing ritual is no more than that - a ritual which once had value but has lost it due to the quality of modern oil and filters (which I *do* change) and the cleaner-burning engines and fuels. It also helps that we run most vehicles on a mixture of ethanol and petrol, with up to 85% ethanol (E85) in some. Yes, there are reports about all sorts of bad things which ethanol will do to your engine and oil. Strangely enough I have not noticed anything of this sort, but that is - again - just anecdotal...

The biggest engine-related repair I've had to do on one of her cars was the swap of a water pump on her current car. This was caused by a design defect (VAG engine, plastic impeller cracks, rotates freely around shaft).

I'm all for electric cars but modern ICE-equipped cars are rather trouble-free, at least the ones I've worked on.

about 5 months ago
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Some Users Find Swype Keyboard App Makes 4000+ Location Requests Per Day

knarf Re:This sounds more like incompetence... (191 comments)

Just put it behind the firewall, no more requests to Google. Use something like privacy guard (in CM) or a similar 'datawall' to keep it from your personal data. Disable location, who needs it anyway? The mere fact that these devices can be tethered to your every personal detail does not mean you should - or want.

Don't use a factory distribution. Build one yourself, or use a build from somewhere you trust. Root your phone. Use a firewall. Use a 'datawall'.

For those of you inclined to start proselytizing for Apple or Microsoft (or any other brand) I'd say wake up and smell the coffee. The difference between Android and 'the others' is that on Android you have a choice. On Apple you don't, you just drink the Cool Aid. Same on Microsoft.

Of course even a self-built Android distribution still uses closed source binary blobs for all sorts of stuff, including the much maligned radio/modem which often has total control over your device. So... if it is a tablet device you wanted... take one without a WAN interface. One less leak to stop...

about 5 months ago
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Figuring Out the iPad's Place

knarf Re:Specialized hardware for a specific task (333 comments)

Funny, this. I don't have anything Apple as I take the 'personal' in personal computing rather serious. My brother, on the other hand, has no such compunctions and has swallowed the cool-aid. Everything Apple, nothing 'less'. He got the iPad. At more or less the same time I got a Chinese Android tablet, a rather eclectic thing riddled with buttons and a trackball, sporting an 8" 1280x768 screen and running Android 2.2 ('Froyo'). The iPad cost about 4 times as much as that Chinese tablet. The Chinese tablet had twice the amount of working storage ('RAM') but for the rest the specs were comparable. Both were capable of playing 3D games quite well, both handled multi-touch input. The screen on the iPad had better viewing angles, the one on my Chinese tablet sported a higher resolution. The iPad had better battery performance (10 hours of video on the iPad, 6 hours on the Chinese tablet). The Chinese tablet has a camera, the iPad did not.

Fast-forward to here and now. That iPad, being a first-generation device, is gathering dust. It is 'obsolete', overtaken by more modern devices. The Chinese tablet now runs Android 4.1.2. I have not taken the time yet to see whether I could get 4.4 running on it because I have not felt the need yet. Of course this Android release did not come from the manufacturer, but that was never my intention anyway. It came from my PC (as in 'personal' computer, a non-descript hunk of plastic running Linux at acceptable speed) and contains those bits I want, leaving out what I don't want.

More importantly, Apple devices are under Apple's control, not other vendors....On Apple you don't have to worry about that. The App has no control over what resources it's allowed to access, the user does.

Who do you think has more control over what their device does, you or me?

about 5 months ago
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How the USPS Killed Digital Mail

knarf solution to junk mail problem: wood-burning stove (338 comments)

Here in Sweden many people have 'Ingen reklam, tack' (no commercials, please) stickers on their mailbox. We don't. Instead, we have a wood-burning stove. All commercial mail ends up in there, unread, unopened. While some of the more heavy printed matter does not burn as good - or as clean - as I'd like, most of it is printed on newsprint (a type of paper) and burns just fine, thank you. In theory it might be possible to get them to deliver so much of the junk to cover a significant part of the heating budget here on the farm. In practice we use the stuff to light the fire, no more.

We could place two mailboxes by the road, one marked 'reklam' with a built-in shredder. I'd like to see the face of the mail person who feeds the bundle of drivel in the box, only to hear the thing clearly shredding it to bits for later combustion. The probability of 'real' mail ending up in there (or fingers or ...) makes this proposition less viable, alas.

about 5 months ago
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Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

knarf Racal RA-17L (702 comments)

All you young whippersnappers with your model-M keyboards (of which I happen to sport some as well) can bow to the supreme longevity of the Racal RA-17L here on the farm which still hums/hisses/squeaks/whines/bleeps/blurps happily along after 60 years. Still using the original valves (that is tubes for you 'merricuns) as well. Valves? Yes, valves. Next to the cockroaches and model-M keyboards these boat anchors will rule the earth after the apocalypse. Not that there'll be much to listen to by then, maybe a pulsar clicking somewhere or a funny noise made by a solar flare?

about 5 months ago
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Intel Releases $99 'MinnowBoard Max,' an Open-Source Single-Board Computer

knarf Re:One of many (97 comments)

...or trying to get any non-Linux OS running on them with acceleration is painful.

How times have changed... a mere few years ago the complaint would be about the difficulty of getting Linux to run on some platform, now it is the other way around.

about 6 months ago
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WSJ: Prepare To Hang Up the Phone — Forever

knarf Re:Fine, get rid of POTS, give us Net Neutrality (449 comments)

Nothing, we build our own mesh network and forego on using commercial services. They'll try to buy some laws to make that impossible - either ignore the laws on a massive scale, vote out the vermin which sold them those laws or make sure the mesh is law-proof.

about 6 months ago
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What Apple's iWatch Can Learn From Pebble

knarf Re:Form factor (97 comments)

No, it isn't. There is a reason I never replaced that watch I lost somewhere on a mountain in Switzerland - I always had to take the thing off because it was in the way. From building to logging to working the land on the farm to fixing the tractor to repairing the $random_piece_of_electronics to $insert_random_activity, the first thing I usually did was take of the watch and put it somewhere out of the way, both to save it from grievous harm as well as to save my arm from the results of getting the thing trapped in some piece of machinery.

Maybe watches work for desk jockeys? In that case it might be the ultimate form factor for *some* of the target group for wearable electronics, but not for everyone.

The optimal form factor for wearable electronics is a neural implant. Just don't forget the spam filter...

about 6 months ago
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Classified X-37B Space Plane Breaks Space Longevity Record

knarf Re: I know what it's doing... (123 comments)

"I, for one, will not go to sleep under the light of a communist moon"

Swap "communist" for whatever you want.

about 6 months ago

Submissions

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knarf knarf writes  |  more than 7 years ago

knarf (34928) writes "Here in Sweden the former state power monopolist Vattenfall is currently replacing all electricity meters with remotely readable versions. They have chosen to use Echelon NES system components. Recently I got an EM-1023 Poly-Phase (PDF) installed which includes an ANSI C12.18 compliant infrared optical port.

The power company can now follow my electricity consumption from day to day and... so could I... if only I could interface to that meter. Which leads to my question: where can I find a reference implementation of the ANSI C12.18 (or similar PSEM) protocol? I have the specs and can write everything from scratch but why reinvent the wheel?"

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