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Comment Re:This is Apple's most successful FUD astroturf (Score 3, Interesting) 315

Apple = red herring.

Even worse, there's a huge elephant in the room. The crux of TFA is that fragmentation is the price paid for "the pace of innovation." But the problem is not new releases -- it's the failure of Google's Android Market (app store) to keep up with the needs of the marketplace. This has caused a bunch of carriers, hardware makers, and iTunes-wannabes to create their own app stores -- each with their own requirements and generally making life hell for developers. The reason is that Google's own Android Market was slow to launch internationally (especially to support paid apps), has an infamously poor UX, and -- shocking for a company called Google -- poor search capability.

New hardware and OS releases are generally welcomed by developers. But if you're an Android developer, what's insane is having to support multiple app stores for the SAME hardware and SAME OS -- just because Google didn't bother to support paid apps in Canada until two months ago, for example. And don't even get me started on the joys of trying to make an app for China.

Hey Andy, before you pass off fragmentation as a necessary part of innovation, take a stroll down to the department responsible for creating Android Market and tell them to start innovating to rein in the chaos they've created.

Comment Why replace the whole router just to get 802.11n? (Score 5, Interesting) 344

Keep your WRT54G, and just upgrade the wireless to 802.11n. I did it with an AirPort Express connected to one of the ethernet ports in bridge mode. In the real world, 802.11n rarely saturates the 100baseT ethernet, so you get almost all the speed, without having to reconfigure everything from scratch. As a bonus, you can still host a separate 802.11b/g network on the old router to support legacy devices without jamming up your N network.


VisLab Sponsors Milan-to-Shanghai Driverless Trek 133

incuso writes "VisLab announced the most advanced challenge so far ever organized for autonomous vehicles. Two driverless electric cars will perform a trip from Italy to China to demonstrate the feasibility of autonomous driving in real traffic conditions. Each vehicle will be equipped with five laser scanners, seven cameras, GPS, inertial measurement unit, three Linux PCs, and an x-by-wire driving system. The mission will start on July 10 in Milan, Italy, and will reach Shanghai, China, on October 10 (10/10/10) on a 13,000 km route though Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, and finally China."

Comment Re:It's not "beginning", it's in full-swing (Score 1) 89

That could be a valid argument, IF this Vodafone app store was indeed "to fill in the European gaps where Google hasn't yet launched the official Android app store" -- as the summary says.

But that's false. According to TFA, ALL of the countries targeted by Vodafone are ALREADY supported by Google Market. That is (from TFA): The Netherlands, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

Android apps can be downloaded in an executable format, just like desktop apps. So why the need for an app store?

Answer: Every good MBA is salivating at the thought of owning the eyeballs, billing, becoming the search engine, and slapping their brand on top of other people's apps. Remember the early days of the web when a gazillion "portal" sites tried to copycat Yahoo? It's the same situation here, a land grab of wannabe Apple iTunes imitators. To them, it doesn't matter that they are late to the party -- they propose some incremental benefit over Google's store and try to get everybody to come to the party at their house.

The actual innovators in mobile are the app developers, who are flat-out competing on ingenuity in a very difficult marketplace. Yet these overlapping app stores are trying to pit developer against developer in an attempt to control the market. It's a classic divide and conquer strategy, and the big loser is the user.

Comment It's not "beginning", it's in full-swing (Score 3, Insightful) 89

"Android fragmentation begins"? I don't think so. It's in full-swing.

Seems like every week some marketing dweeb comes up with the brilliant idea to create yet another app store. Motorola and Lenovo have their own, as does China Mobile. That's not even counting the dime-a-dozen independent entries with names like Handango, Cellmania, AndAppStore, MobiHand, GetJar, Nexva, SlideMe, etc. etc.

I am an Android developer, and get an email every week from yet another app store. Each has its own custom requirements and contract overhead, and they expect us to do the work for free for the "privilege" of joining their flock and whatever scheme-of-the-day they are concocting as their business plan.

No thanks. I dump those emails and stick with the Android Market. For all its flaws, developers need to show solidarity and work towards improving it. The alternative is to give away your work and place it in the hands of the likes of wireless carriers, who will continue their land grab game at the expense of the developers, innovators, and consumers.

Comment Re:Separate handset and communications charges (Score 2, Insightful) 165

Thanks, that's an interesting bit of info. That's a step in the right direction, but it still leaves the handset subsidy shrouded in a mysterious cloud of "plan discounts" and such. And, since all other North American carriers still collect the same amount regardless of subsidy, the user is still punished for bringing their own phone.

Why can't we go to a simple system like this: say a phone costs $600. You either pay that up front or add $25 to your bill for 24 months and get it for "free". If you want to terminate the contract, you pay the remaining balance, period. "Early termination fees" and "prorating after x number of months" only serve to cloud the issue and confuse the consumer, while creating a customer service and bill collections headache for the carrier.

Again, this is where good regulation could step in and set things straight. Outlawing ETFs would be the key.

Comment EveryDNS has left the building... (Score 2, Insightful) 125

Have you tried to contact EveryDNS lately? No one is there.

Well, I donated to EveryDNS at year-end, but my account wasn't updated to "donator" status. Repeated attempts to contact them over the last 3 weeks have gone completely unanswered.

The conclusion? DynDNS bought EveryDNS, sent everybody home, and we're just a server failure away from having to scramble to find another DNS. Maybe some of us will sign up for DynDNS's paid service? Wouldn't that be nice for the new owners...

Comment Separate handset and communications charges (Score 5, Insightful) 165

If you buy the phone on a contract, you pay $80 a month. If you buy the phone without a contract, you still pay $80 a month.

Why aren't people questioning this practice? Carriers justify ETFs on the basis of having to subsidize handsets, but they turn around and charge the SAME amount to customers who aren't taking advantage of the subsidy. Thus artificially suppressing the market for unlocked / open phones.

The system in Japan makes more sense. When you buy a phone, you choose to pay the full cost up front, or pay in 12 or 24 installments (and of course if you want to cash out early, you have to pay the remainder of the balance, just like any installment plan). The communication charges are SEPARATE from the phone charges. So the end result is that the user who wants a "free phone" simply pays a bit more monthly than the user who paid for their phone up front.

The money the carriers would save trying to explain, justify, and collect those arbitrary "early termination fees" probably justifies switching to this more sensible system. And it would encourage a free market for phones. Why aren't the regulators/attorneys/etc. stepping in where they should?

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 926

In Japan it happened in 2008. Narita customs officers inserted some cannabis into a passenger's luggage to check their security, but the passenger slipped through and went home with the drugs. The passenger returned the drugs, and those responsible were punished.

It seems that this is a systematic way of "quality assurance" in airport security around the world. Unfortunately, when mistakes occur, it creates plausible deniability for anyone caught with contraband.

On the other hand, maybe it brings us one step closer to realizing the stupidity of security theatre...

Comment Toshiba: guilt by association? (Score 4, Insightful) 90

Notice how the article reports that the suspect is a "Toshiba employee" even though his activities have nothing to do with Toshiba (as far as we know). That's how things work in Japan (and Asia in general) -- the company, relatives, etc. share some responsibility for an individual's actions simply by association.

Comment Re:droid will be mine (Score 4, Informative) 121

In Japan, phones have been capable of turn-by-turn navigation for a long time. When those apps first came out, there was a lot of speculation about whether mobile phone navi would kill the standalone / built-in navigation market. The car navi folks rushed to add mobile data connectivity, so they could download the latest maps and service info to compete with the "live" services offered by the mobile phones. Accessories for mounting your phone in the car in a visible position also became available.

In the end, both devices are co-existing in the market and very few people use the phone as the primary navigation device. Reasons are: (1) Inconvenience of having to launch the app, mount the phone in the car (or kill your phone's battery), and the fact that you can't use your phone. (2) Screen size. Unlike the tiny screens on North American GPS navi units, almost all units in Japan have a 5" or 7" screen. (3) The fact that most cars already have it built in anyway.

So I predict that in North America, the GPS navi units will evolve to: (1) Larger screens, (2) Data connectivity for live updates, and (3) More specialized features and improved service quality. The competition will be good. But the standalone / built-in navi devices won't just disappear.

Comment Re:My H1-B was rejected. (Score 1) 757

Seriously, come to Canada. You'll enjoy a quality of life equal or better than that of the States, similar work / leisure culture, and an immigration process that's much more deterministic than the INS one. Information Technology has been a designated occupation in many provinces for a long time -- for example, in British Columbia you could get your permanent residency in six months through its provincial nominee programme.

I sound like a salesman to Canada but I have US citizenship and voluntarily immigrated to Canada the hard way, for what it's worth.

Comment Re:Again, I compete with people who pay less (Score 1) 141

You don't HAVE to pay first-world prices for those things; that's what the global marketplace is all about. The catch is, you don't "have" to get a first-world salary, either.

But let's get this straight. Foreign students pay higher tuition fees. That's why colleges are so keen to get international students and their money. Of course, many of them come from places where the income level isn't high enough to afford those inflated fees, so they have to earn it through work-study or merit-based scholarships. But far from being "massively subsidized", "they" are actually subsidizing YOUR education through international student tuition.

Globalization is a bitch, isn't it?

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