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Comment Re:Should You Use Password Managers? (Score 1) 415

So much this.

I have an LG G4 phone which rather helpfully has a custom clipboard widget where it will keep the last 10 things you've copied in any easy recallable list. That's all well and good until you copy something that shouldn't be remembered.

In the case of keepass, I copy a password which gets added to the top of the clipboard list - then a few seconds later I see "****" has been added to the top of the list as keepass tries to blank out the clipboard. Looking at the clipboard widget, I can still see my previously copied password there - totally visible, in plain text & easy to paste again.

There is a clear operation that I can manually invoke to flush out everything in the clipboard - but relying on users to remember to do that is unreliable.

It's also worth noting that LG in their infinite wisdom, have bundled this clipboard widget in such a way that it is impossible to disable, or uninstall or even configure. I believe there is a way to get rid of it if you root your phone - but aside from any warranty implications, I'd imagine there are also some security considerations to be had when rooting your phone.

Comment Re:Energy (Score 2) 210

Even then it gets mixed up between timers and alarms. Eg,

Me: "Alexa, set an timer for 10 minutes"
Alexa: ..sets a timer that will beep in 10 minutes
Me: "Alexa, how long is left on the timer"
Alexa: "10 minutes"

Seems fine. But if you do;
Me: "Alexa, set an alarm for 10 minutes"
Alexa: ...sets a timer that will beep in 10 minutes
Me: "Alexa, how long is left on the alarm"
Alexa: "There are no alarms set"
Me" Alexa, how long is left on the timer"
Alexa: "10 minutes"

It will set a timer when you say "alarm" in your sentence but it won't be able to read back how long is left using the same keyword.

The AI capabilities of Alexa have been oversold. There is no underlying AI here that understands alarm and timer to mean the same thing sometimes or different things other times. The limitation is in the programming of the built-in timer & alarm skills; they weren't built with enough sample utterances and therefore makes the user speak Alexa's language rather than Alexa actually understanding speech.

I find myself using the physical dial on my stove to set timers more often than not because I find it quicker to do that than remember what the exact incantation my echo expects me to say.

My girlfriend tries to talk to it like a human - because it's advertised as that's how you use it - and she gets frustrated with it;
Her: "Alexa, what year did beauty and the beast come out"
Alexa: "Sorry, I didn't understand the question"
Her: "Alexa, what year did the beauty and the beast film come out"
Alexa: "Beauty and the beast will be released in March 2017"
Her: "Not that one, the original"
Her: "Alexa, not that one the original"
Alexa: "Sorry, I didn't understand the question"
Her: "Alexa, when did the original beauty and the beast film come out"
Alexa: "Beauty and the beast will be released in March 2017"
Her: *rage*

The whole experience is pretty jarring. I think it's going to be a long time before we have a home assistant that's actually helpful & easy to use.

Comment They've been scrambling not improving (Score 5, Insightful) 194

The developers have been scrambling to keep up with demand, they haven't been doing anything to improve the game or keep it interesting since launch.

The game launched with a very small set of game play mechanics. Since launch, they've removed 1 mechanic (tracking pokemon) and have added nothing .

If they were capable of keeping their launch-day mechanics in place and weren't scrambling to just keep the servers alive (the reason they removed the mechanic they did) then they could have focused their small development team on improving the game instead.

The key mechanics in the old pokemon games was battling friends & AI and trading pokemon. If they added those mechanics into Pokemon go, then they might be able to keep the interest going a bit longer.

Until then, it's collecting things that you can't find. The fun in that wears thin pretty quickly.
Data Storage

Researchers Develop Atomic-Scale Hard Drive That Writes Information Atom By Atom ( 68

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Researchers in the Netherlands have created a microscopic storage system that encodes every bit with a single atom -- allowing them to fit a kilobyte in a space under 100 nanometers across. That translates to a storage density of about 500 terabits per square inch. For comparison, those 4-terabyte hard drives you can buy today are about 1 terabit per square inch. That's because, unlike this new system, they use hundreds or thousands of atoms to store a single bit. "Every bit consists of two positions on a surface of copper atoms, and one chlorine atom that we can slide back and forth between these two positions," explained Sander Otte, lead scientist at Delft University of Technology, in a news release. Because chlorine on copper forms into a perfectly square grid, it's easy (relatively, anyway) to position and read them. If the chlorine atom is up top, that's a 1; if it's at the bottom, that's a 0. Put 8 chlorine atoms in a row and they form a byte. The data the researchers chose to demonstrate this was a fragment of a Feynman lecture, "There's plenty of room at the bottom" (PDF) -- fittingly, about storing data at extremely small scales. (You can see a high-resolution image of the array here.) The chlorine-copper array is only stable in a clean vacuum and at 77 kelvin -- about the temperature of liquid nitrogen. Anything past that and heat will disrupt the organization of the atoms. The research was published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Comment Re:Akamai (Score 1) 136

A lot of the worlds biggest websites are frontend by Akamai. From wikipedia; companies (past & present) include; Apple, Microsoft, Valve's Steam, BBC iPlayer, Rackspace, Adobe, Yahoo, ESPN, NBC, MTV, Hilton, etc etc. Akamai's own website says they handle 15-30% of the world's web traffic - which I don't believe is too far off the mark.

So yes, end users should care about how quickly they can access Akamai's network.

Disclaimer, I don't work for akamai but have worked with them on some of the larger (enterprise) clients I've worked with.

Comment Re:If you keep voting for the same people... (Score 1) 88

The first-past-the-post voting system we have in the UK is very biased. The majority of people who voted did not vote for who is in charge.

Even glossing over that; you make it sound like there's an alternative to having idiots run the country. I have never seen a politician or party in the UK that I think is qualified to run the country or make important decisions. They're all blithering idiots with their own agendas that couldn't care less about what their constituents actually want. They spout utter nonsense as election pledges to get votes and then U-turn on all of the important ones.

So election day is always about voting for the lesser of (usually 2) evils. There is never anybody good.

It'd be very difficult for anybody who actually is good to run the country for a few reasons;
1. They'd have to part of 1 of the big 2 parties, or they have no chance of getting enough seats (due to first-past-the-post) 2. The 2 big parties have their own internal politics that'd prevent someone who in acts in favour of the population reaching the top if they didn't also align with each party's own private agendas.
3. If they weren't part of 1 of the big 2 parties, they'd struggle to compete in terms of marketting & pre-election pledges. If the competition cheats (which it does by deceiving the voters) then Joe Blogg's super party will have to cheat to be competitive. It's similar to performance-enhancing drugs in sports; it forces honest sportsmen to cheat because they'd have no way of keeping up otherwise. If Joe Blogg's super party starts making ridiculous pledges it can't keep so it can get as much TV time as the big parties - then Joe Bloggs is just as bad as the others.

So yeah - at this point, I just vote for the small guys in the hope that one day one of them might be big enough to change the political landscape enough to knock the big 2 off the top. But I'm also a realist and know that I'm essentially just wasting paper by voting for those guys. I'd imagine that's why so few people actually turn up to vote these days; the system's broken and anybody who wants to fix it can't get in power to fix it.

On the plus side, at least we can hope the Lords will reject the snoopers charter. One thing to note though, the Lords are not elected; and some Lords have already been caught trying to squeeze the snooper's charger into another bill. So, again, realist speaking; we can't assume the Lords will get it right either.

tl;dr; We have a faux-democracy. Best we can do is hope the guys in power don't screw it up too badly.

Comment Re:Yeah, but (Score 1) 169

This page loaded 488KB of data. It took my browser 25.5 seconds* to download it all. What you're suggesting is all of that page data be included in a single response? So the browser would have to wait 25.5 seconds before it could even start rendering the page? Where it'd be difficult for the browser to then cache content that could be shared across multiple pages? Compare that to the current dependency structure where the DOM was loaded in 2.41 seconds & the page was considered loaded at 5.91 seconds.

Browsers are already pretty good at doing things in parallel and with proper web development, you can sensibly prioritise external content so that the user can see the important/useful bits of a page while the rest downloads in the background to add the polish on top.

I'm obviously being pedantic here because I'm sure that's not what you literally meant. It could be argued in my example that the majority of /.'s 25.5 second load time was for non-critical assets/content considering the page was usable much before the 25.5 seconds had elapsed. But to take that to the extreme & cut out all the non-essential content, we'd end up with a web much like it was in the 80s where everything was just basic text; which would be blisteringly fast on modern connections.

But, alas, this isn't the 80s any more. Web publishers actually want to make money for the services they're providing the world. Consumers are swayed by swishy graphics & interactive DOM elements. Modal popups asking for email addresses do actually increase conversion rates. Tracking and analytics data are genuinely useful to businesses to forecast or tweak things to suit trends & usage. Websites serve so many people now that rendering user-specific pages server side is extremely expensive & slow when they could use a CDN to serve up generic page templates & an API for user data & let user browsers piece everything together.

* Actually, it's a bit vague because /., like many other sites, periodically poll various trackers so I just took the 25.5 seconds to be around where it looked like everything except the polling-javascript finished downloading.

Comment Re:Remind me again (Score 1) 156

It was nice to have Netflix run directly on my TV.
Until Panasonic decided that they couldn't be bothered to keep the app updated

It's nice to be able to put the kettle on when I'm 5 minutes from my house.
Except the experience doesn't let you check how much water is in the kettle first, the kettle cannot keep a stable wifi connection, and as far as boiling water goes; it's a really bad kettle and it takes a really long time.

It's nice for my washing machine to be able to send a diagnostic report to my phone that I can then show an engineer who can then determine the issue more reliably (and therefore cheaply to me).
But it's not great that the machine is now 90% computer and most faults need to be addressed by replacing logic boards; which is not something that can be done cheaply.

Connected devices is fine in my book; they can be useful. The problem is more often than not, the implementation is just bad. Company in industry x thinking they can just do industry y just hasn't been working;
Tech companies know which corners can be cut and at what costs when they're developing their bread & butter.
Appliance companies know which corners they can cut and at what costs when they're developing their bread and butter.
Appliance companies that are developing tech either; don't know enough about tech so screw it up, or, worse, think they know enough about tech to know which corners to cut and royally screw it up.

To reframe the issue slightly;
I would not trust a washing machine made by Facebook to not leak on a particular cycle.
I wouldn't trust a fridge made by Microsoft to not get frosted up every couple of days.
I wouldn't trust a car made by Apple to not require an obscure sized nozzle on a fuel pump.
Why would I expect a kettle company to build a phone app with good UX?

It would be nice if non-tech companies could add tech to their products in a good way; but unfortunately, it's just not their area of expertise. And quite often, their area that they should be good at suffers because they're trying to focus on the tech side of things.

Comment Re:Translation (Score 1) 115

As a company who wants to develop some hardware to plug into people's phones, I want the most potential customers to be able to use my new hardware because it is very expensive to develop bespoke hardware and even more so if there are a bunch of competing platforms and my same piece of hardware needs to be rebuilt, re-certified & re-licensed 5 times for the top 5 device manufacturers.

LG's market share is tiny, so it's going to be hard to justify developing something that can only ever be used on LG's products. Tiny market share + high development cost = nobody will develop for the platform.

LG need developers. Developers need guarantees of a larger market share than LG can directly provide. The other manufacturers in the market will need to see a lot of hardware already developed for LG's interface before they'd consider implementing LG's interface vs creating their own proprietary interface.

It's a bit of a catch 22. LG need to go all in with this one to make it stick; charging to develop on or to implement the interface will kill it before it starts. They need to make the standard free to develop & implement. Bring other manufacturers on board to define/shape the standard. Develop lots of addon hardware themselves and set the precedent that addon from manufacturer x can work with device from manufacturer y and that the money is in addon sales not in interface licensing fees.

I think that's all a tall & costly order for a company that has such a small mobile business and frankly, I don't see it happening; which is a shame because LG do make good phones (disclaimer, I have an LG G4 and when compared to my old HTC...well, I can see why HTC's market share is tanking).

So; I predict nothing exciting will come of this for LG. Best case scenario for LG is they corner some niche market by creating addons that estate agents in China just can't live without. In 5 years time, Samsung and Apple will have their own interfaces and those 2 interfaces will be the ones developers target for mass market.

Comment Re:IoT (Score 1) 130

Define "computer".

I wish someone could define it in a highly specific way rather than just using it as a umbrella term for so many distinct devices; desktop PCs, laptops, ultrabooks, Macs, calculators, phones, abaci, difference engines etc.

"IoT" means Internet of Things. So like a "computer" is anything that can compute, "IoT" as a thing that has some connectivity to the Internet. So yes, all of the things you mentioned could fit into the definition of "IoT". Smart TV = probably is a thing with Internet connectivity. Old "dumb" TV = just a thing. Fitness band that syncs your data to your phone/PC/"the-cloud" = IoT. Basic pedometer = just a thing.

I don't really get where the confusion around IoT is. It's pretty self explanatory. Popular usage might consider things like smart phones separate from IoT - but in practice, many devices the media are calling IoT depend on smart phones to provide the "I"; so smart phones are often part of the IoT ecosystem. As are any devices between the "thing" and the "Internet".

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