08/04/2010

TalkTalk talks the talk

Andrew Heaney, Director of Strategy and Regulation of TalkTalk has written a blog post stating: -

* Unless we are served with a court order we will never surrender a customer’s details to rightsholders. We are the only major ISP to have taken this stance and we will maintain it.

* If we are instructed to disconnect an account due to alleged copyright infringement we will refuse to do so and tell the rightsholders we’ll see them in court.

Only 5% of MPs actually turned up for the brief debate in the House yesterday and the other important parts of the stages will now end up in the wash-up process.

TalkTalk have been very vocal against various parts of the Digital Economy Bill and will continue to fight against it and with whichever party is running the country after the general election.

Digital Economy Bill gets FAST approval

Unsurprisingly FAST (Federation Against Software Theft) has welcomed the 'success of the Digital Economy Bill', even though the DEB has attracted criticism from many corners including the music industry itself.

FAST have been criticised in the past for using strong arm tactics on companies to force them to hold audits (from FAST) to ensure they're not using unlicensed software.

The Government has forced the bill through, without proper debate which has angered many people. Allowing the '3 strikes rule' to get through is now imposing punishment without trial and it is too far ranging (i.e. anyone illegally sharing on an open WiFi network can get the WiFi network disconnected). Other issues are that BIS can request to have any domain registry removed (or the infrastructure removed) if the registry doesn't remove content they don't like.

Hopefully someone will take the issues up the the Court of Human Rights and have the bill (or aspects of it) quashed.

06/04/2010

RIM Eclipses development ease

Research in Motion (RIM) has announced a new development platform for the Blackberry smartphone range.

There's a new Java plug-in (1.1) for Eclipse that provides a complete development, debug and simulation environment supporting multiple devices and operating system versions, which can be switched without restarting the system.

There's also a new Java SDK (v5) with now over 20,000 API calls including Location Based Services APIs enabling cell-site geolocation, GPS, geocoding and reverse geocoding to obtain address and location data, OpenGL ES support for 3D graphics, touchscreen and accelerometer, new pre-built UI components, file pickers and screen transitions and SQLite support for data sharing across different applications.

The other new release is Web Plug-In v2.0 which allows developing Blackberry widgets using standard web tools such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and AJAX.

Blackerries are notoriously hard to develop for, hopefully these new tools will make life easier for developers.

More can be found from RIM's developer site.

I go, you go, MeeGo

Nokia and Intel have started to open up their new MeeGo initiative which is their combined Maemo and MobLin Linux for mobile efforts.

As reported in the MeeGo blog the core is suitable for Netbooks, mobile phones, in-car devices and connected TVs with different higher level applications suitable for the relevant architectures.

The OS images are suitable for booting from a USB key or directly from on-board flash.

Images are available for intel Atom-based netbooks, ARM-based Nokia N900, and Intel Atom-based handsets (Moorestown).

There's also a source repository available through git and rpm's for the applications. The current images will just give access to a terminal, though it's hoped to have the higher lovel GUI systems available soon.

Whether they'll make a dent on Android is yet to be seen, though maybe some enterprising person can port MeeGo to the O2 Joggler which is being sold for £50 now and there's already efforts to replace O2's stock image with other more useful operating system.

05/04/2010

Apple sells 300,000 sanitary products in first day

Apple has announced it has sold 300,000 iPads on the first day of launch (up until midnight April 3rd 2010) - OK they're not sanitary pads, but it makes a good headline.

Those 300,000 iPad users have also downloaded over 1m apps and 250,000 ebooks from the Apple iBookstore, so that's 3 apps and almost 1 ebook per iPad.

Skeptics may just think it's a rush of Apple fan boys, but Apple are changing the game. People bemoan it's a proprietary operating system (so what) it means that Apple can control the content easily and the way apps look and feel, so it's all easy to use. Apple know how to do User Interfaces (UI) and make things look nice. As long as programmers stick to Apple's guidelines using Apple's interfaces their programs will look nice too. So anybody will be able to use the app.

The iPad is no better in terms of specs than other systems out there, but they're not selling it as an eReader, nor as a tablet but a combination of the two. Amazon have realised that the Kindle can do more than just be an eReader, but they've only just released an SDK. The iPad will run existing iPhone/iTouch apps with no modifications (under emulation) but they've had the SDK available for months, so there's some good iPad apps out there on launch (including Apple's own iWork apps). It also makes a very nice eReader and lo and behold Apple have an ebook store available on launch.

The iPad will be iconic, just like the iPhone was. Yes it's lacking a camera (yes there's a space for an iSight camera in the case) and other features, but they will come. Owning an iPad now is like owning a piece of history.

UK MNOs moan about MTR reductions, apart from 3

As expected the big 4 UK mobile network operators are complaining about Ofcom's plans to reduce mobile termination rates to 0.5p per minute by March 2015.

The only operator who is welcoming the cuts is 3 (or Hutchison 3G to be exact). It makes sense for them as they're the smallest UK operator so their users are making more outbound calls to other networks than inbound, which means they're paying out to other networks. Any reduction in call costs to other networks therefore reduces their costs. They also say they'll pass on cuts to their users.

The MNOs are said to have made around €5.3bn from termination fees in 2008.

Vodafone have said "A cut of this magnitude deters future investment, makes it less likely that the UK would continue to lead in mobile communications and was at odds with the government's vision of a digital Britain." Orange say "Handsets may no longer be subsidised, and consumers may have to pay to receive calls."

Ofcom have been at odds with the MNOs on other changes as well such as Mobile Number Porting (Ofcom wanted sub 1 hour porting, the MNO's took Ofcom to court, and now Ofocm as asking for sub 24hour porting).

04/04/2010

Upgrading a MacBook Pro disk

It was a bit of a daunting task, get a Solid State Disk (SSD), transfer the contents of the current disk on to it, then make sure it's all working and take the MacBook Pro apart and fit the disk.

Surprisingly it was all very easy, but there's a few things that need to be though about first.

Make sure you have an external (USB/Firewire) disk system that will take the SSD, plug it in and make sure it's recognised. It's unlikely to be formatted, so MacOS X will say it's unrecognised and ask to run Disk Utility. The disk needs to be partitioned (select partition type GUID) and a single partition, name it Macintosh HD (or SSD) and let Disk Utility do its magic. Once finished it will be mounted it and it appears as a USB or Firewire disk (depending what external system you have).

It's now all about cloning the internal hard disk, a couple of utilities were recommended Carbon Copy Clone and SuperDuper. In this instance Carbon Copy Clone did its magic and it was just configured to clone the Macintosh HD (the internal HD) and copy everything to the external Macintosh HD (which was the externally mounted SSD).

The internal disk had just over 50GB of data and it took about an hour to clone (so you've got time for a couple of cups of tea).

There was a beep to indicate it had finished and that was that. Just to be sure Disk Utility was run again and the disk verified, it did throw up a few errors, but they were permission errors and quickly fixed (it took under 3 minutes to scan the disk on USB).

Then go into System Preferences and select "Start-up Disk" and select the external USB/Firewire disk and reboot. This should get the MacBook to boot of the newly set-up disk. Happily the MBP booted and the hard disk activity light flashed away showing it was using the external disk. Then shutdown and remove the power from the MBP.

Removing the screws from the base of the MacBook Pro was easy enough (a small Philips screwdriver is needed) and the bottom just lifts off. Make sure you remember which screws go where as some are long and some short, though not too difficult to just lay them out in the position of where they sit on a table surface.

There's a site iFixit which specialises in DIY Apple repairs etc. They state that the bar holding the drive in place uses Torx 6 screws, however on this late 2009 13" MBP the screws were also Philips and it came away very easily.

Then carefully remove the hard disk and very carefully pull away the ribbon cable attached to it. Get the SSD (which you've removed from the external case) and attach it to the ribbon cable and insert it back into the hard disk space. Place the disk bar back and screw into place and replace the bottom cover, making sure that the screws aren't over tightened. Put the screws in, in pairs, as this reduces the stresses on the case and put opposites in pairs. Lightly screw them in, then tighten them once all the screws are in.

All that's required to to turn the MBP on and hopefully it will all work.

The MBP will boot significantly faster and apps load much faster. Performing a disk permission verification (with the SSD in the MBP) took under a minute (compared with 3 minutes when connected through USB).

As a TV commercial Meerkat would say "Simples"

The disk used was a 256GB Crucial RealSSD C300 2.5-inch SATA 6GB/s which is their latest generation of SSD.