Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: I'll take a 6" phone please (Score 1) 660

by dara (#40715067) Attached to: Don't Super-Size My Smartphone!

The author tells us about his experience with watches and the sizes that they have moved through over the years. This analogy is not very strong. I don't want a big heavy watch either. A phone is in my pocket (and if I'm sitting down, usually in my car console or on a table). Big phones these days aren't even that heavy (the SIII is not heavy at all).

I have a hand me down iPhone (3GS) and a Nexus 7 and I now think the perfect phone for me would be a phablet with a 6" 1920x1200 screen with the tiniest bezel that can be achieved (145x85mm would be nice). This will still fit in front pants pocket (unlike the Nexus 7 which I can cram in a jacket pocket, but not in any of my pants) and have an amazing display for pretty much anything I want to do away from a laptop. Too bad 6" seems to be no mans land right now - I know of Toshiba's prototype (6.06", 2560x1600), I can't wait to see if it will show up in anything, preferably a future Nexus 6 (with phone features).

Comment: Re:First (Score 2) 447

by dara (#39432889) Attached to: Former Nokia Exec: Windows Phone Strategy Doomed

I'll never understand this attitude of Nokia can't enter the Android market because they'll get slaughtered by HTC and Samsung. Other posters make a lot more sense when they say Android is much more popular than Windows Phone and Nokia is essentially already in competition with other phone companies anyway.

Ideally, Nokia never would have entered into an agreement with Microsoft that was exclusive. My position is that they should have offered an OS neutral phone and sold it with stock Android, WP, or Meego (as well as letting users install something else if they want to). To avoid the button problem, just get rid of them and use the same soft button method ICS uses for the other OSs. Smart phones are all about getting the biggest damn screen you can get in the smallest package.

Finally, nobody should sell Nokia short in terms of the admiration people have for their hardware quality. If they offered an Android phone with the PureView camera, a 1280x720 Clear Black display, typically excellent call quality, as well as exceeding on GPS, speaker quality, etc., then people would be all over it. They could easily beat out HTC, Samsung, or Motorola - none of which impress me all that much - they can't seem to get the entire package together. Even the Galaxy SII couldnâ(TM)t get the DAC right.

Comment: Re:Complex as always. (Score 1) 522

by dara (#37321392) Attached to: World Population Expected To Hit 7 Billion In Late October

The number of non-rich countries that have had success reducing fertility is much bigger than China (maybe not in number of people, but in diversity of cultures): Tunisia, Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Uruguay, Iran, Chile, Bahrain, Lebanon, Algeria, Thailand, Albania, Cyprus, Cuba, all have less than 2.05 (roughly steady state) now and I'm pretty sure none of them did 50 years ago. This goes to show the problem is very tractable if we just decide to DO SOMETHING. I know the most about Iran's success as half my family is from there and what they did was very different than China but both countries succeeded. India, Afghanistan, many countries in Africa, the Middle East, and South America are not showing the will to do anything. It's true that at 2.06, the US could be better given our lousy per capita consumption numbers (we should be at 100 million the way we burn through resources), but at least we've finally got free birth control! (if you have insurance that is).

I don't believe our world wide food production / consumption has the degree of safety that your post implies. We are only going to have that if we deprecate a lot of animal agriculture (eat a lot less meat) and start choosing as many low water plant food sources as we can. Because at the rate we are going, we are going to run out of water (aquifers anyway - and rainwater won't cover it). Unless some free energy source materializes so we can desalinate, it doesn't look that promising to keep growing in population and for people to aspire to a Western high meat.diet.

Dara (one kid, vegetarian, but I like my toys, and I drive/fly at least as much as the average US citizen)

Comment: Re:Good point (Score 1) 178

by dara (#37311214) Attached to: Lenovo To Offer $200 Budget Tablet

That bugged my about the iPad ($100 premium for GPS since you have to get the 3G version).

I got around to checking out the spec sheet for the Lenovo tablet and it sounds like the $200 won't be available in the US anyway. For $250 with 16 GB, I'll have to shop around and see what else is available when this one comes out since as another poster pointed out, there are a lot of cheap Android tablets with GPS. Archos has interesting models some that include hard drives which might be worth it if you want to store every damn topo map in the whole US and Canada so you don't have to think about what is loaded before a trip. But if a tablet doesn't have access to the market (as the article pointed out is the case for many cheap tablets), that isn't very useful, since the main GPS apps that I want are through the market.

Comment: Re:You lost me at the spec list (Score 1) 178

by dara (#37309422) Attached to: Lenovo To Offer $200 Budget Tablet

I disagree with this, though during the roll-out of the first Android tablets, it was true. The point of Android as I (and many Slashdotters) see it is to divorce the hardware design from the basic OS and apps. When the next Android version comes out, I would be interested in this tablet since it is low cost and it has as one mandatory feature for me: GPS. I would already own a Nook Color if it had this feature.

As you say, what matters is what you can do with the tablet, but that IS a function of what the hardware is. What the software is/does should be available to everyone. For me a big task is to bring the tablet in the car and perhaps even on some walks/hikes and have a very nice map display with a "you are here" feature.

Comment: Re:Eisenhower (Score 4, Insightful) 369

by dara (#36779342) Attached to: Cut Down On Nukes To Shave the Deficit

Those are nice quotes. But can you defend Eisenhower presiding over the CIA when they overthrew democratic governments in Guatemala and Iran? Can you imagine what the Middle East would be like now if Iran had a democracy for the last 58 years? The people of Guatemala suffered a lot until the current period of democracy. Iran still hasn't recovered (they can only vote for candidates approved by unelected Mullahs, better than Saudi Arabia, but not democracy).

I can't see the case for nuclear weapons anymore, so the less the better for me, and I don't want to spend a dime making new ones. If they want to spend some money shuffling things around and reprocessing so the 1,000 we keep are reliable, that's better than reports I've heard about what we're doing.

I'm not convinced we ever needed them, but I can see the argument that MAD prevented direct conflict between the US and the USSR. But now, we'd be better off spending the money on making our country more economically competitive to start paying off some debt, or just use it to pay off debt.

Comment: Re:Well they have a point (Score 1) 373

by dara (#35712366) Attached to: Google Fights Back Against Android Fragmentation

I agree with similiar_name that carriers are the fundamental problem (in the US). Manufacturers are being a pain too, but if we fixed the carriers, there would be more competition in the manufactuering side, and I think the worst (Motorola) and others would clean up a bit as well as opening it up for new smaller companies which will cater to user subsets (e.g. geeks) much better.

Simply put, we (in the US) must demand of our regulators that they force cell phone companies to offer all plans to users who come with their own phone if they have compatible hardware (GSM vs CDMA, etc.). All plans shall be month to month (or pre-paid fixed number of minutes) - no multi-year contracts available. I don't mind if carriers want to try their hand at the phone rental business as well, but no tie ins (discounts if you get a plan and a rental).

Unfortunately, I don't see that happening, and now with T-mobile going away, I'm not sure what a decent nationwide option is for those who want to buy a phone outright is anymore.

Another poster asked HTC if they would start a line of vanilla Andoid phones. I'm not sure if that would work in the US if none of the carriers offer to subsidize it. I'm aware of Geeksphone, but until the Two comes out (if it does), the hardware isn't very interesting to me. But if I could get really good open hardware, I guess I'd forgo the $20 month subsidy on the typical plans in the US (i.e. I'd pay the same rate as someone who is getting their phone for cheap).

In the meantime, more power to Google, I'll take whatever incremental improvement to the very real fragmentation problem that I can get. I sure as hell am not getting an Atrix.

Comment: Re:Better to not have a tablet phone distinction (Score 1) 231

by dara (#35690370) Attached to: Android 3.0 Is Trickling In, But Are the Apps?

I agree with your point that interacting with the screen becomes different as the screen gets larger. Perhaps it would be chaos, but I still think it is possible to have a single OS and app for phones and tablets that is configurable enough that a device sitting in the middle (say at 5.5") can choose the right blend of UI elements (multiple columns, etc.) to satisfy the given user. Perhaps I'm naive though, and the quality control issues are just too great and there needs to be more fixed configuration to quash bugs.

I owned a G1 for a month and returned it, partly based on T-moblie's reception in my area, and partly based on the stability of the phone. I looked at the Nexus 1 and S and I was disappointed with both. The N1 didn't have a subsidy with AT&T (and there is no discount plan as there is with T-mobile when you own your phone). The Nexus S had some interesting features, but it didn't work with AT&T (I think an upcoming version will), and if I were to switch to T-mobile again just to get this phone, it didn't even have 4G (that was crazy). If the Motorola Atrix where a Nexus M (stock Gingerbread, no Blur, no locked boot loader). I'd probably have it now even though it's back camera is so-so, and I don't like pentile displays. I agree, it doesn't make sense for Google to sell phones, that's not what I meant - the manufacturers sell the phones and the carriers subsidize them, but they are under tigher requirements to be referred to as Nexus devices.

I have lots of reasons I'm done with Apple now, but the frustration I experienced with the 3G is a significant one. At least if I had kept my G1, I could have rooted it and put Cyanogen on it. I can jailbreak my iPhone too, but everything I read says there is nothing that is going to help with performance issues. Other issues are: I want sideloading of apps (so I probably have to leave AT&T unless I root and in that case, I could jailbreak an iPhone to get the same result), I want access to Google's more advanced services (e.g. Navigation), and I want to get a bigger screen phone (if the iPhone 5 came out with a 4.5" screen, I don't think I'd stay, but I'd take a look). Even with the criticisms of Google on not releasing Honeycomb AOSP yet, I do consider the more openness of the framework preferable to Apple.

Comment: Re:Better to not have a tablet phone distinction (Score 1) 231

by dara (#35686088) Attached to: Android 3.0 Is Trickling In, But Are the Apps?

If the only difference between Android 3.0 (which admittedly, I have not tried - just seen some videos such as http://ces.cnet.com/8301-32254_1-20027466-283.html) and 2.3 is the About Screen, then I wouldn't care (nor would I understand why there are two versions). But it looks like there is a fair amount of difference to me (perhaps not in Google Maps, but many of the other programs). I don't know how much is the apps and how much is the underlying OS, but it doesn't really matter - most people, including me, think of an Android release as the whole package.

I'm arguing against this difference - I think it would have been better to make Honeycomb as simply the next version of Android which included more features that allowed it to be configured to work better on tablets, but would still work just as fine for small screen phones and any size in between. So I hope they merge the two on the next iteration (whatever the number is).

Comment: Better to not have a tablet phone distinction (Score 3, Interesting) 231

by dara (#35681392) Attached to: Android 3.0 Is Trickling In, But Are the Apps?

I think Google made a mistake in buying into the idea that phones and tablets have be different at all. There is a big difference going from a desktop/laptop with a mouse and no touch screen, to a phone/tablet with usually no mouse and always a touch screen, but after that, do we really need the distinction? Wouldn't it be better if software (apps and the OS) allowed for a smooth transition across screen sizes from 3" to 10+"?

I personally want a phone in the current dead zone (except for the Dell Streak). I find even 4.3" too small, but 7" is too big. 5", or even 5.5" is my sweet spot. What am I supposed to use - Honeycomb?, Gingerbread? Why the hell do I have to make a choice?

Future smart phones are all going high resolution. Anything with a screen size of 4 inches or more is going to have 1280x720, 768, or 800 pixels at a minimum. 1920x1200 will probably push down to 7" devices. Software should be able to handle a range of screen sizes and resolutions and reflow text and icons (and allow lots of configuration to choose font and icon sizes and number of icons) to make working across this range not a big deal.

And another thing, at this point I do expect that some reasonably specified current hardware (single core, 1 GHz, 512 MB RAM, etc.) should be able to be upgraded many years into the future. Sure certain features may have to be disabled, and configuration sliders controlling animation may have to be turned way back, but I don't want the core Android to turn into some behemoth that won't even run on hardware that is a few years old. I'm ready to hop off the iPhone train and a big reason is that Apple screwed my phone (3G) completely with iOS4 and isn't even trying to fix it anymore (no more updates for that phone). I'd rather Google didn't emulate Apple on that front also.

I'm all for Google flexing some muscle against manufactures and carriers, both of which disappoint me orders of magnitude more than Google ever has. But a sufficient solution for me to the fragmentation problem is if they would push for a lot more Nexus phones and tablets available simultaneously. Just one phone at a time (and no tablets) isn't cutting it. At least one phone from each manufacturer on each carrier and a bunch of tablets would be more like it.

Comment: I wish they went the opposite direction from WP7 (Score 1) 142

by dara (#35235576) Attached to: Nokia Plan B Was Just a Hoax

I was ready to move to a Nokia Meego phone (from an iPhone 3G), but I have no interest in WP7 phones whatsoever, it doesn't matter if they have the best call quality, camera, GPS, screen, keyboard, whatever. Nokia is dead to me now. So from my point of view, Nokia looks incredibly stupid. But I know I'm not a typical customer and perhaps they can pull it off as I see plenty of people praising WP7 (and plenty lambasting it). But their stock value seems to show a lot of investors don't have the confidence that they can. Too bad - I hope Zeiss finds some other manufacturers to use their excellent cameras if Nokia goes under (or even if they don't - damn, I wanted that N8 camera on a good phone).

If I were running the company, I would have changed the top-end phones (I have no comments on lower end phones - let them keep running Symbian I suppose) so that the platform was completely open and put a small team on getting the platform to run stock Android AND Meego and don't develop a Meego UX in secret that is only for Nokia. Stick to making the best hardware and run a completely open stack (that anybody else can run too). Now a few apps that are Nokia phone only like Ovi Maps would have been OK. I saw a great video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2KSCPOhQ7w) on a platform that was software agnostic and was targeting both Android and Meego, I see no reason Nokia couldn't have done this with an actual phone.

The bummer is that with Nokia's move, I'm left now with only Android in terms of an open ecosystem when the stupid manufacturers (like Motorola) or the stupid carriers (like most of the US ones) don't cripple it. I'm not crazy about the Nexus S or I would have gotten one last year. Google needs to get a lot more Nexus partners so that at any one time all the companies have a flagship Nexus device. That would get me a lot more excited about Android. Too bad WebOS is of no interest (lousy looking hardware, another proprietary OS), Samsung's supposed effort to do something open according to Rasterman is nowhere, and after that I only know of the main proprietary options of iOS, Blackberry, and Microsoft (all of which I've ruled out). Hello Android, but I'm not excited about it.

Comment: How Open is WebOS (Score 1) 77

by dara (#35196752) Attached to: HP Donates To WebOS's Major Hombrewing Group

I was following Meego for the last few months and it was starting to look like the best alternative to Android for those that are completely annoyed by the closed Android phones and are left with only the Nexus S (with unimpressive hardware) or Geeksphone (even more unimpressive hardware) that are actually open in the true sense of the word. I was very disappointed to hear that Nokia isn't pushing Meego full steam onto the best hardware they can make. I considered WebOS for a bit based on some of the comments I've heard about the homebrew community, but my impression of the openness of system is that it is fully proprietary Linux and thus not an open system. Is there an equivalent of the AOSP? There other problem is that I don't get very excited about the Pre 3 hardware. A 3.6" screen? That is too small. I want something like Hitatchi's 4.5" 1280x720 screen and unitil that is available, I at least want a 4 to 4.3" 960x540 screen.

Is WebOS really going to grab any Meego deserters?

Comment: Re:Pwns the galaxy S... (Score 2) 96

by dara (#35109960) Attached to: Early Hands-On Preview of Dell's Streak 7 Tablet

This is a very interesting point about the emulator. I haven't tried one yet, but I was thinking of downloading Meego (though I don't have a Linux PC right now - so I'd have to wait for Mac or Windows versions) and Android emulators and playing with them side by side as a way help make a decision on which platform to go to. I'm leaving iOS after trying an iPhone 3g for a few years. Among other things - I will never forgive Apple for crippling this model with iOS4 and then not supporting a downgrade to iOS3. That and the other non-open aspects to the platform have me definitely going to one of the two main open alternatives (I guess Symbian is a third, but although I've read some positive reviews of the N8, I've read enough negative comments to cause me to wait for the N9. I don't think I can stomach any of the current Android offerings except for a Nexus S and I've got plenty of gripes with that particular hardware. I totally agree with another poster recommending Dell get to a winning Android Tablet design by using the most current version of Stock Android.

I'd have to see what Nokia ends up offering for Meego, but I do like some of what I read, advertising the Meego core (perhaps not including many Nokia add ons that will dominate the N9 experience - I have no idea) being more open than Android. E.g., a big effort to modify code upstream before releasing in a handset, using open development practices such as letting users download betas, etc.)

So I wonder if the Meego emulator is any better than the Android one (on Linux). Has anyone done this comparison?

Comment: Re:Plug In Cars (Score 1) 603

by dara (#35037434) Attached to: White House Wants 1M Electric Cars By 2015

NewWorldDan wrote: Using very optimistic numbers, if a battery pack lasts 70,000 miles and replacement costs $3500, then the battery adds 5 cents per mile.

Agreed, this is the main problem. We need some type of battery technology where the initial cost is reasonable and either the lifetime is competitive with gas cars - say 125k mi (I spent $3500 on a transmission once for a car that only had 80k on it), or the replacement costs (which could include whatever valuable materials are in the battery and are traded in, cost something like 1-2 cents/mile instead of 5. Perhaps this isn't going to happen for quite a while.

Gas cars often need items replaced too (O2 sensors, catalytic converters, etc.) many of which do not exist on an EV doesn't have - nothing as expensive as the battery of course, but you could get unlucky with one and be out several thousand over 100K also.

I look forward to seeing real world maintenance costs (and battery life) data from EVs as more of them are on the road. I'm not in a position to buy one in several years at least.

Comment: Re:Plug In Cars (Score 5, Insightful) 603

by dara (#35035320) Attached to: White House Wants 1M Electric Cars By 2015

The energy equivalence between gas and electricity (gal to kWh) is not very interesting although I know the EPA is trying to make such an equivalence to say what the MPG equivalent value for the Leaf is. The reason that it is pointless is that efficiencies at the production end and the consumption end are different between the two energy delivery systems. So why not use a metric that roughly tracks efficiency (not counting subsidies) - cost:

If the Nissan Leaf gets 3.4 miles per kWh (http://gas2.org/2010/11/22/epa-gives-nissan-leaf-99-mpg-rating/) then those 3.4 miles costs 10 cents or 34 miles/dollar (2.9 cents/mi) assuming your 10c/kWh number.

My 2005 Prius averages around 45 mpg and gas is around $3.40 where I live, so 45/3.40 = 13.2 miles/dollar (7.5 cents/mi).

So the Leaf is 2.5 times better than the Prius on cost per mile basis. Now the cost of the Leaf's batteries must be taken into account of course, but it is at least possible that future battery technologies and gas and electric costs will result in a trade where it is cheaper to run electric cars over their life than it is to run gas cars. I sure hope so - I hate gas cars for their noise and their pollution which is never as good integrated over their lifetime as an electric car.

When some people discover the truth, they just can't understand why everybody isn't eager to hear it.