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    by Published on 04-14-2022 07:45 AM
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    FYI there won't be any new briefings from yours truly for the rest of this week and next; the girlfriend and I are taking a birthday trip to explore Alberta — specifcally Lake Louise, Jasper, and Banff.

    Should be back to business as usual on Monday, April 25th. Happy Easter, everyone!

    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
    by Published on 01-01-2021 08:30 AM
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    If there's one thing I could be grateful for in 2020, it's this little brat. He's also the reason why I haven't been posting so much over the past several months.

    This time last year I was dropping him off to be boarded at a local vet, who suddenly decided that he was not only too sick for them to accept, but needed to go to an emergency clinic ASAP. This on the day when I was due to fly to Japan for a two-week holiday, which I hadn't even started packing for yet! I ended up rescheduling our departure for a few days later (that was expensive) and a dear friend came to the rescue and took him in while we were away.

    We're still not 100% sure what's wrong with him; the diagnosis has progressed from a food allergy to cancer to inflammatory bowel disease. Whatever the case, over the first half of the year he lost about half of his body weight—at one point things looked so bad that I got him some kitty opioids to make him more comfortable and ease his expected passing. Through all of this I was feeding him anything he could keep down, but nothing seemed to stick.

    But then, sometime over the summer, the meds he'd been taking all year finally started to take hold. He's still throwing up every few days (cats tend to do that anyway), but at his last vet visit he weighed in a full kilo heavier.

    So, the obvious question: What value does the life of a stupid street cat have when upwards of two million people have succumbed to COVID worldwide? Fair point; all I can say is that this particular cat matters more than most because he's how my girlfriend and I met. She found photos of him as a kitten on Flickr, started commenting on them and the rest, as they say, is history.

    It's not like the cat is the only thing keeping us together, it's just nice to have him around for a little while longer. And in the truly terrible year that was 2020 I'd say his recovery qualifies as a miracle, at least in comparison to everything else.

    For the year ahead I can't yet say how often I'll be able to post—that is, beyond the morning briefings and threads of the week. At least once a week is what I'm aiming for, but that depends entirely on the four-legged brat that you see above...

    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
    by Published on 01-31-2020 07:30 AM
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    At the height of the SARS panic in 2003 a dear friend was working as a server in a downtown chain restaurant. During one of her shifts a family asked to be served by someone else, for no other reason than the fact that she was of Asian descent.

    Of course you can argue that these people were only trying to protect themselves... better safe than sorry, right? Unfortunately it's not so simple as that.

    Before this new outbreak is inevitably contained I would humbly ask you to consider that in protecting yourself you may also be inadvertently causing harm to others who don't deserve it.

    Some further reading on the subject:

    Chinese-Canadians facing hate, racism for coronavirus outbreak—much like the SARS outbreak in 2003

    Fear over coronavirus prompts school board in Ontario to warn parents about racism against Chinese community

    Canada's top doctor calls out 'racism and stigmatizing comments' over coronavirus

    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
    by Published on 09-21-2019 07:45 AM
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    ... or at least its appearance.

    On our most recent trip to Wellington the girlfriend and I were eagerly anticipating brisk weather, warm smiles, delicious food and fantastic coffee. But we were entirely unprepared for the eyesore you see above, the scattered mess of parked electric scooters across the downtown core.

    Two companies are currently operating in three New Zealand cities: the local startup Flamingo and also Uber's JUMP. As my girlfriend still has an Uber account we had ample opportunities to try one out but honestly, in a city so small (relative to Toronto) we saw no need.

    Just so I'm clear, we didn't really have a problem with the riders, per se; except for some bratty kids doing sick jumps outside of our hotel one night, the majority of scooter traffic was contained within areas where available space could be safely shared with pedestrians—like the harbour or the boardwalk along Oriental Bay. The more hardcore scooter commuters could be found mixing it up with cars on the road. But these brave souls usually had their own ride, and always a helmet.

    Fun fact: the Kiwi Mi Store sells an electric scooter for just shy of $700 NZD, the same model originally deployed by Bird in the USA.

    Anyway, our problem (ok, my problem) was with the visual blight of these things littered across an otherwise picturesque seaside town. You can't even move the damned things to the side without activating an alarm. Flamingo does have a Feeder program where locals get paid to round up scooters, charge them up and then return them to service, but from what we saw it's not getting enough of them out of the way.

    The theory goes that shareable electric scooters are supposed to augment public transportation systems and ultimately help get more cars off the road. A tour bus operator I spoke with had no kind words for them—their riders' unpredictable behaviour made his driving duties unnecessarily perilous.

    And wouldn't you know it, scooters have now made their way to my home town, with Bird launching a pilot program in Toronto's Distillery District. Is your town next, or is it already too late?

    Andrew Currie has been blogging about mobile phones since 2001, smartphones (depending on how you define them) since 2002 and smartwatches since 2014.
    by Published on 02-06-2019 02:50 PM
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    For this week, here's something a little different... WatchTime has a new feature tracking the progress of the non-smart wristwatch over the course of the 20th century. They go much further back than that of course—according to Wikipedia the first recorded wristwatch was a gift to Elizabeth I, in 1571!

    Pocket watches were more the thing for men, at least until the onset of the First World War:

    Many soldiers in World War I preferred a quickly readable watch on the wrist to a timepiece safely tucked away in a pocket of their uniform jacket. One consequence of this was that after the Great War ended, the wristwatch became popular among men, many of whom had formerly belittled it as a feminine accessory.
    The piece goes on to feature the progress of wristwatches over the decades, including the first quartz models with digital LED displays, and the rise of Swatch through the 1980s. Conspicuously absent, however, is any mention of the disastrous misstep otherwise known as Swatch Internet Time, wherein the company thought it would be a good idea to redivide a 24 hour day into 1,000 beats.

    More at the link immediately below!

    Source: WatchTime

    by Published on 12-24-2018 12:45 PM
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    Shortly after Christmas I'll be taking my annual winter break, this year touring the western coast of Taiwan. A couple of people that I know have expressed concern that I'll be snatched up like the other three Canadians caught up in this unfortunate Huawei mess. I feel like there's a teachable moment here, so let me gather my notes as I step up to the rostrum.

    [clears throat] Taiwan is not China. But it also is.

    The island has seen a steady influx of Han Chinese since the 1600s. But the most notable migration came in 1949 as the Kuomintang (KMT), defeated in the civil war by the Communist Party of China (CPC), fled mainland China and set up a government-in-exile in Taiwan.

    Where the confusion stems from is an agreement signed by The Republic of China (Taiwan ROC) and the People's Republic of China (China PRC). Here's Wikipedia on the 1992 Consensus, or One-China Principle:

    Under this "consensus", both governments "agree" that there is only one single sovereign state encompassing both mainland China and Taiwan, but disagree about which of the two governments is the legitimate government of this state.
    The confusion is compounded by Taiwan ROC not having a seat in the United Nations (the PRC does), and by the likes of Air Canada and Marriott Hotels bowing to mainland pressure and listing Taiwanese destinations as part of the PRC. But make no mistake; Taiwan ROC is a sovereign democratic nation, with its own currency, immigration and military forces.

    It's also home to Acer, ASUS, HTC and bubble tea.

    I should be home and back on regular duties as of Thursday, January 17th. Have a safe and happy holiday, and I'll see you in 2019!

    Source: Wikipedia (1) (2)

    by Published on 09-25-2018 05:24 PM
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    The whole concept of in-flight Wi-Fi is a relatively recent phenomena. Boeing offered the service in 2001, Airbus in 2005 and more recently GoGo in 2008.

    When it was introduced the concept was formed with low bandwidth in mind meaning each flight could only offer speeds not too much faster than dial up.

    Then came ground based systems that offered slow 3G like speeds. But besides being slow this service only worked while the airplane was over land meaning that sea bound flights were out of luck.

    Disappointed customers are demanding faster service but the industry couldn't keep up with demand. Unlike smartphones that are designed to be upgraded often in-flight systems were built to last a decade or more so thus more of the same year after year.

    But there is hope. According to Honeywell, its GX Aviation system can achieve speeds of up to 50 Mbps, ViaSat's Exede can deliver up to 12 Mbps passengers while Gogo's 2Ku service promises 15 Mbps of speed.

    Finally we're going to be able to use our data in-flight the way we expect to use it.

    Read more: https://www.businessinsider.com/how-...i-works-2018-9
    by Published on 12-04-2017 06:45 AM
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    Though perhaps not directly related to mobile this is nonetheless pretty big news for tech enthusiasts in Canada. TechSpot reports that Netlink Computers, Inc., more commonly known as NCIX, has officially declared itself bankrupt to the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

    I'm not sure how much of a household name NCIX would be for our American friends, but in Canada they've been a popular source for PC parts and other electronics, including unlocked smartphones. In 2011 yours truly ordered a custom-built PC from their Scarborough location (the one pictured above) and it was a thing of beauty—the technician who assembled it did a much better job with the cabling and such than I ever could.

    NCIX was also directly responsible for launching the YouTube career of Linus Sebastian, who did product demos for the retailer before starting the Linus Tech Tips channel with fellow NCIX employee Luke Lafreniere.

    Curiously, the online storefront looks like it's still accepting orders; currently the only place on the site where you can read about the bankruptcy is their user forums. If anyone reading this has an open order with NCIX my advice would be to file a chargeback with your credit card company ASAP.

    Source: TechSpot

    by Published on 10-27-2017 06:45 AM
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    2. Commentary and Analysis,
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    This post isn't really about mobile tech, but Google's "AI" Assistant is also available on Android phones. So there's that.

    Last night, on a post-dinner stroll past The Eaton Centre, the girlfriend and I happened upon this pop-up Google Home Mini Donut Shop. It was closed for the night but will be open again today if you're planning a visit to downtown Toronto. If you are then there's two things you should know: (1) the foodie verdict is that the donut supplier, Jelly Modern Doughnuts, is terrible, with baked goods better suited to Instagram than your actual mouth; (2) what's ultimately being peddled here is of dubious value to you and I.

    The upside for Google is obvious. Their cheap and cheerful Home Mini plants a permanent microphone where you live that's always listening—at least for the trigger phrase that activates its software assistant. Massive implications for your privacy aside, I just don't get the point of Google Assistant at all, if there even is one. Like I said, I've got it on my phone, and to me so far it seems like a more cumbersome version of voice search. I don't really need my phone talking back at me when there's already a beautiful HD screen in front of my face that can show me the same information in a better way.

    It took the better part of a decade to sway people from talking on their phones to typing on them. In that way Google Assistant—and Siri, too, for that matter—feels like a regression.

    Back to Google Home, I've an old high school friend who swears by his. He's constantly telling it to set reminders, read him the news, change the volume on his Google Home... Hearing him gush over it honestly perplexes me, and certainly keeps me from wanting to drop by his place for a visit. I suppose I could see some value in it for people with mobility issues, but here's a thought: the more people rely on these things the more they risk ending up with mobility issues of their own making, if you get what I'm saying.

    So someone, anyone, please enlighten me as to what I'm not getting about Google Home. Or Google Assistant. Or HomePod, Alexa or whatever else. And in the meantime enjoy your free donuts in Austin, Brooklyn, Chicago, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Madison, Manhattan, Oklahoma City, San Francisco, St. Louis and Toronto. Check the Android Police link below for dates and times.

    Links: Android Police, blogTO

    by Published on 09-01-2017 07:00 AM
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    As you read this I'll be waiting at Toronto International Airport for a morning flight to Hong Kong, and then onwards to Colombo. I'm not entirely sure why, to be honest; this particular vacation destination was the girlfriend's idea...

    All I know about Sri Lanka so far is that, according to OpenSignal's latest numbers, it ranks last for LTE data availability and near last for LTE data speeds. On the flip side, if our local testing is any indication then the food there will be pretty great.

    Anyway, there won't be any news round-ups or other posts from yours truly until Tuesday, September 19th... See you then!

    by Published on 08-09-2016 07:00 AM
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    Article Preview

    Unless Howard posts something in the next hour or so, this post right here will be a bit of a milestone for these forums. As your humble front page blogger, tasked with bringing you a post every weekday morning and a round-up of news every weekday afternoon, I thought this might be a good opportunity to check in with you all and see how I'm doing.

    For the news round-ups I have a system in place that seems to work pretty well. I keep a running list of news stories from my RSS feeds and reddit; for the "From The Forums" section I basically find the forum posts with the most replies from the last 24 hours.

    The morning blog posts is where I could really use your feedback. I generally leave device reviews to Howard, and for original content stick to my few areas of expertise, like Android modding or Pebble. That gets a bit tricky since this obviously isn't XDA and there isn't even a dedicated Pebble forum here, nor likely enough users to warrant one.

    So, as I see it, my job every morning is to highlight a particularly noteworthy bit of mobile-related news, something that deserves more than just a headline in the afternoon news round-up. Most often that means hardware, be it a device announcement, leak or even rumour. Sometimes it's software, like a bloated carrier ROM or especially useful app. Less often it's about the carriers themselves, as there are very few of those stories that would be relevant to everyone reading the forums.

    Finally, while I myself have some very strong opinions on net neutrality, privacy and user rights, I try to only post on those topics when there's something concrete to report. If you want more, by all means let me know.

    After this afternoon's news round-up I'll be away on my summer vacation until Monday, August 22nd. Looking forward to reading your comments when I get back! ...
    by Published on 12-16-2015 07:04 AM
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    3. Carriers,
    4. Off-Topic
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    "Tablets aren't mobile... they're immobilizing."

    That's a random quote from a Tomi Ahonen blog post that I've come to agree with. Because the vast majority of tablets out there connect via WiFi they lock you down to a specific place, be it a coffee shop or whatever. So despite being extremely portable I wouldn't really call tablets mobile, and thus don't write about them very much.

    I do have some tablet-related news to share, though—a few small stories rather than one big one. So today I'm going to dump them here. ...
    by Published on 10-06-2015 07:08 AM
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    Today, in other words...

    It's a pilgrimage I should have made a long time ago, but the honest truth is that it's not really a pilgrimage at all. The famous Nokia House in Espoo is no more; after Nokia sold their handset business to Microsoft the building was eventually renamed Microsoft Talo—and what Nokian in their right mind would want a souvenir photo with a big-a** Microsoft logo on it?

    No, the only news here is yet another vacation for yours truly. I hope to be back to my regular posting schedule on Wednesday, October 14th. ...
    by Published on 10-08-2014 07:40 AM
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    4. Off-Topic
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    Last Friday Howard asked me if I wanted to review the BlackBerry Passport. I declined. Why? I guess I was worried about the trackpad—what I mean is, the capacitive qwerty keypad that effectively does double-duty as a trackpad.

    I'll elaborate on that...

    Years ago, when my brother was over at my apartment doing something on my Macintosh computer, he complained to me about the mouse. Apparently the cursor tracked too slowly across the screen for him. Cut to a few days ago when my girlfriend was doing something on my Linux computer, and complained that the mouse was too sensitive—in other words, the cursor tracked too fast.

    If users can have such wildly different experiences with something as bog-standard as a desktop computer mouse, how on earth is anyone supposed to write objectively about something so intensely personal as a smartphone? ...
    by Published on 08-01-2014 08:52 AM
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    5. Off-Topic
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    If you frequent the front page of these fine forums here's a little fyi: as of this weekend I'm off on my summer vacation and you likely won't hear from me again until Monday, August 18th. Just so you all don't completely forget about me while I'm gone, here are some of the things that I'm planning to write about when I get back. ...
    by Published on 05-29-2014 07:39 AM
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    Yeah, so I'm stretching the definition of "mobile tech" quite a bit here. Hopefully you'll indulge me this one time—I just think this is really cool.

    This past Tuesday saw the unveiling of the first original build of Google's self-driving car. It's entirely electric, with no gear shift, pedals or even a steering wheel. It's currently limited to 25mph and that's probably a good thing, at least for now. For the future it promises a solution to the most irritating and often dangerous aspect of driving: the driver. ...
    by Published on 10-11-2013 07:59 AM
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    2. From The Forums,
    3. Off-Topic
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    When Canada's biggest mobile provider goes down, even if only for a few hours, it's a very big deal. I'm hoping that the Rogers outage this past Wednesday was only a minor inconvenience to anyone reading this. As I understand it the data network wasn't affected, which is a good thing.

    Outages certainly suck, and today I'd like to send you into your holiday weekend with a little story about the largest such event that I've experienced, the great Northeast blackout of 2003 -- where it was the mobile network that prevailed even when the electrical grid went down.

    Late in the afternoon of Thursday, August 14th, 2003 I was futzing around on my laptop when the WiFi stopped working. I thought it was an issue with my laptop, and it was only after I rebooted a couple of times that I saw it was running on battery power, despite being plugged in. My smartphone of the day was Handspring's Treo 270, which happened to be sitting on the table beside me. When I finally thought to check a WAP news site -- remember WAP? -- I realized what was happening.

    Despite a massive power outage across Ontario and the Northeastern United States my mobile service from Fido was unaffected. If I remember correctly landline phones were also still working. This was good because most people still had landlines but bad because they also had cordless phones, which were now quite useless. ...
    by Published on 02-17-2012 12:41 PM
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    Apparently 66% of people are afraid of losing their phones.

    Personally I don't like losing anything that costs more than a few dollars because a) I paid for it and b) I have to go out and buy it again. Still, for me if I had to choose something to lose my phone would not be at the top of my list.

    What about you? Are you afraid of losing your phone or would it be a nice excuse to buy a new one?
    by Published on 02-09-2012 09:26 AM
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    I just read this over at Tom's: MegaFon, a network operating in Russia recently ran a contest to see who could download the most 3G data in a week. Turns out the winner downloaded 419GB!

    The Next Web cites Russian site C News in reporting that customers of Russian network MegaFon who purchased a 3G modem between November 1, 2011 and January 31, 2012 were asked to download as much data as they could during that period. At stake was a prize from travel agency Neva, which was offering a $5000 vacation for the person who used the most data.
    Personally, I work from home so I usually download using my wired connection but when I was testing Rogers/Bell LTE I easily did a couple 100GB in one week with a demo line. In a 2hr period I downloaded around 30GB with Rogers and in a 20 min sitting I managed 6GB.

    What's the most you've ever downloaded over 3G/4G?
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