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Comment Re: The unfortunate thing (Score 1) 134

> but at what point does paying extra for that beat out something that outperforms what you're buying by every other conceivable metric?

It's a tough but personal call, I guess. Given the earlier metaphor, I'd much rather have the Maybach which is priced similarly to the sports cars, but since there's no Maybach option for the Neo900 that's where we're at. I think I paid about $700 for the first N900, later getting them for $300 for my father and sister (who are both still using them); so ~$1000 for the Neo900 is tempting to have a pocket Debian box with all the gadgets, and presumably, a community like Maemo had that was keen to hop in and hack it.

I'm a little bummed since the last time I was a looking to spend $1000 on a phone it was (now I can't remember, either a Siemens or a Motorola) phone that could do UMTS and quad-band GSM, meaning I would have been able to use the same phone in the US, Europe and Japan.

If I thought a better option would come along if I waited another year, or even two, this would be a more obvious solution. Given that I don't replace phones every two years, maybe the amortized cost is worth it. I'm obviously still tempted, although with 5G deployments *scheduled* for 2020 maybe it's not worth it. Or it'll simply be a good time to look to upgrade. I'm very conflicted.

Comment The unfortunate thing (Score 1) 134

I loved my N900, and still have it despite the flaky USB port and the amount of battery it chugs, the fact that Maemo wasn't as free as you'd hoped and that it was supported by Nokia about as well as Nokia supported anything. Because of that, I've been watching the Neo900 project for quite some time, although I'll admit it wasn't until today that I payed closer attention to the frequency options (since they were always subject to change anyway).

There isn't a good world phone option. Given the chips they're working with, the world options (Euro LTE or penta-band UMTS) won't work with T-Mobile USA's UMTS or LTE networks [as far as I can map support and bands?], and the US version won't work at all in Japan. Compare that to other pentaband phones which drop the 800MHz for the AWS band, which work worldwide.

Off-topic, but does anyone click on any of the "Video" stories, or is that like the real-estate used for the Dice ads?
For those wholly confused by what this is, it's not intended at all as a competitor for Android or iOS based devices, it exists for its own reasons. A car analogy (do users here still ask for those? Or here do car analogies ask for users?): telling someone looking to get an Neo900 to get an Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy would be like telling someone to get a Ferrari 458 or Lamborghini Huracan rather than a Rolls Royce Phantom. Sure, the Ferrari and Lamborghini are cheaper, faster, and more likely to be on the poster in your room; but someone wanting to buy the Rolls isn't going to be impressed by that.

Comment Re:I smell a class action suit (Score 3, Informative) 103

This may help explain why some carriers (e.g. T-Mobile) required an "unlimited" data plan for certain phones. Even though my wife only uses about 40 MB of data over T-Mobile's network a month, they want to require her to use the more expensive unlimited plan. If it's an unlimited plan, they aren't charging you for additional data transfer.

Well, technically they might be, but not directly; and not legally. If that's really the reasoning, then they're just extremely evil and bad, bad people.

Comment Re:It's a trap: Next step: Proprietary battery (Score 1) 270

There are various after-market vendors for at least the major brands in digital SLRs. Even with the newer generation of Canon batteries (e.g. for the 7D) which have special chips to communicate with the camera, at least for the time being, non-smart batteries will at least still work.

Is this ideal, as a consumer? No, it'd be better for consumers if Canon were to release instructions for other manufacturers to communicate in the same way their own batteries do. However, there is sufficient demand for cheaper non-OEM batteries that several companies will sell them, and probably continue to have some available past the life of the camera (I just bought a new round for the 20D, which was replaced by the 30D about six years ago).

Even if the specific batteries are no longer available, the Canon dSLRs can still be powered by AA batteries if you have the hand grip (which I could never imagine shooting without, although I can foresee arguments from people who prefer the smaller size without it).

Comment Re:We are getting one (Score 1) 381

Pish-posh. I had an iPad device. Work bought me a first-gen model the week they came out, and we've got a number of shared iPad2s for development. I played around with it for a little over a year, using it almost entirely for its Web browser, eMail client/calendar, and the Economist.

The eMail client wasn't particularly great. it was manageable to type on the screen, but it was incredibly frustrating to do certain things, like prune unnecessary parts of a message to which you are replying.

The Web browser was a frustrating experience, especially if the WiFi was at all flaky. If I were following links from an eMail, I'd move between the two applications, and the Web browser would flush its cache when it woke-up, meaning I wouldn't have access to old pages until it was able to download and render them again. Even worse, it could only keep nine pages open at once, so if you had several open to come back to, and you happened to navigate to one that used pop-ups, you were SoL.

I didn't mind the format, and that's why I put up with it for a year. However, depending upon what I plan on doing, I now have two tablets that each work much better than the iPad device did. I have a Nook Simple Touch Reader which works great in daylight situations, and as a reader at night (with K9 mail, the default Android browser, and Opera browsers installed, it's much more reliable than the iPad for those purposes). For situations where eInk doesn't work, or more general browsing and usage I have a HP TouchPad (with a Debian chroot and iceweasel).

Yes, most people won't want to deal with loading an alternative home screen or configure a Debian chroot, but in doing so each are significantly better than the iPad device in my opinion, and together they're still less than a used first-generation iPad device from Apple. Maybe the Apple iPad device is best for you, and makes your life simpler, but objectively saying, from a technical standpoint, that nothing else can touch it disingenuous. (From the aspects of marketing, sales, and mind-share, things are obviously different.)


Submission + - Edge of Solar System Filled with Bubbles (space.com)

cultiv8 writes: "The edge of our solar system is filled with a turbulent sea of magnetic bubbles, according to new NASA research.

Scientists made the discovery by using a new computer model, which is based on data from NASA's twin Voyager probes. The unmanned Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, which launched in 1977, are plying the outer reaches of our solar system, a region known as the heliosheath.

The new discovery suggests that researchers will need to revise their views about the solar system's edge, NASA officials said. A more detailed picture of this region is key to our understanding of how fast-moving particles known as cosmic rays are spawned, and how they reach near-Earth space."

Submission + - Supreme Court Removes "Willful Ignorance" Defense (scotusblog.com)

Windrip writes: The Supremes provide yet another way for patent holders to crush their opponents.
Consider the affirmation of the Federal Court ruling in Global Tech Appliances, Inc. v. SEB S.A.. This decision has ramifications far beyond the infringement:

The plaintiff SEB (the respondent in this case) holds a patent on a design for a deep-fat fryer; the defendant Global Tech (here, the petitioner) reverse-engineered SEBâ(TM)s fryer and marketed a competing fryer.

You really want to rethink your "I don't read patents to avoid damages" strategy: The U.S. Supreme Court has now flat-lined that advice

But the remainder of the opinion is quite interesting. Adopting a suggestion from the oral argument, the Court (with only Justice Kennedy dissenting) held that the judgment of the Federal Circuit nevertheless could be affirmed on the basis of Global Techâ(TM)s willful blindness.
... What is novel about this (and what will make this one of the most commonly cited decisions of the Term) is the Court's explanation for the first time that criminal statutes which require proof of knowing or willful conduct are satisfied by proof of willful blindness.

Submission + - The War On Photography: Legal Analysis (ssrn.com)

YIAAL writes: We've seen increasing numbers of stories about photographers facing arrest or assault by police and security officers simply for taking pictures — often pictures of law enforcement misconduct. Although photographers have a legal right to take pictures in pretty much any public place, this article by Morgan Manning concludes that the legal remedies for violations of that right are inadequate and often entirely unworkable. Is law-enforcement education the solution, or do we need new civil rights laws — maybe with attorney fees and heavy damages — to protect photographers from being hassled?

Comment Re:What are you talking about? (Score 1) 169

Buy a dedicated SIP phone.

My parents are running Aastra phones (with wireless handsets).
My fiancée has an ATA (analog telephone adapter) and loves that she can use her old analog phone with it.
You can buy a Grandstream phone for $50 if you don't want something fancy like Aastra or Cisco.

None of these should be harder to use than a normal phone. To initially configure, maybe--but you can do that and then ship them off where all they need to be is connected to the network.

Why bother with a cross-platform software solution? You could, if it simplifies your support issues, I suppose. Each platform has plenty of options if you just need some support however (my father uses Telepathy on his phone).

As I said, my parents have an Aastra phone, which fetches its configuration file from an FTP server (you can also just have it fetch over HTTP/HTTPS) so any configuration changes take effect within a day, or after they restart the phone--including a centralized address book. The Aastra phones are really good if you want a hybrid centralized-decentralized configuration/contact situation and you want to spend a couple hours doing the initial configuration for everyone. The users don't need to know anything special.

Comment Re:Dropping in Quality (Score 1) 232

> open source software ... ATI card ... (older Nvidia) without glitches.

Since you don't say, and from experience, I'm forced to wonder if you were using ATI's fglrx or Nvidia's proprietary drivers, which would seem to go counter the impression it seems that you're trying to make (open source failed you).

Really there isn't much else to respond to. You don't say what it was that you were using (did you need 3D and compositing? or simply 2D?). I've never come across problems with open drivers just running wmaker or fvwm; and I've run Compiz fine on older Radeon cards (open) and currently on Intel (open) cards.

The biggest problems I've run into was trying to maintain a system using proprietary drivers. I've decided it's just not worth the hassle. Closed drivers in an open system isn't any better than closed drivers in a closed system.

Comment Re:N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (Score 1) 208

I've noticed Vitelity started offering SMS on their SIP lines. I've not played with it, but would love to hear from people who have (especially if they integrated it with Asterisk). I don't care enough about SMS to play with it right now but am vaguely intrigued about the possibilities of having it integrated into my Asterisk server.

My "everything north of Boston is the same" prejudice shows, but I'm surprised there's UMTS availabe in Maine!

Comment Re:N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (Score 1) 208

IIRC, I do have some lag on the calls, but I never traced where this was (my Aastra phones I *don't think* demonstrate this [over a wired connection]). It's only been noticeable to me when I'm talking on the phone with someone in the same room (hearing both the direct voice and over the GSM->Vitelity->Asterisk (CoLo)->(Comcast->Wifi->) N900), however which means it's never been a problem in real use. It could be I'm just luckier, or that I've just gotten accustomed to it.

I haven't had consistent problems over T-Mo's 3G, although I do intermittently (usually in areas of poor coverage/deep inside buildings). 3G is prone to some intermittent hic-ups that self-correct but are noticeable from time-to-time (3G does have higher latency than WiFi, and I'm using a high bit-rate codec).

I also don't use the phone (any phone) that much for voice ...

Comment Re:N900 / Asterisk / Vitelity (Score 1) 208

As said downstream, I have T-Mo USA since ... I'm in the USA and that's the only UMTS network it supports here. Also, it's cheaper than AT&T and has always worked for me (and I've never been in an area where AT&T had service and T-Mobile didn't because of roaming agreements).

Voice quality's fine as long as it's on UMTS (3G), with or without HSPA--although with poor reception (inside buildings) there can be some difficulty but still generally usable. On EDGE it doesn't keep up and generally drops--there's a bug in that the N900 doesn't use the GSM codec over SIP (https://bugs.maemo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=11744) which would help significantly over EDGE.

Fortunately, indoors, I generally have WiFi so this usually isn't an issue. I've used it to replace my old Linksys IPhone SIP phone which just stayed indoors connecting to WiFi. Obviously, the N900 is much more versatile than the IPhone was.

(And while I mentioned Vitelity by name, I'm just really happy with what they offer compared to the other SIP carriers I've tried--it's definitely geared toward the more technically inclined which certainly doesn't hurt. Other providers might be easier to get working if you just want a simple VoIP plan with some package of minutes and what not.)

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