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Andrew Orlowski

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Nudge Unit flies into Nesta's arms: Is the hype justified?

No 10's controversial "nudge unit" has been spun out into a company - but it hasn't fallen far from the nest. The 16-strong Behavioural Insights Team (as it's known) will become a private entity and will be able to tap into cash originally set aside for fledgling inventors. It will then sell its services back to the government …
Andrew Orlowski, 06 Feb 2014

Facebook turns 10: Big Brother isn't Mark Zuckerberg. It's YOU

Facebook turns 10 this month, which means a bombardment of anniversary pieces lauding the social network. This blabbergasm will stress how Facebook “changed everything” and speculate on how “unimaginable" life might be without Facebook. But Mark Zuckerberg’s greatest achievement isn't financial or technical. Facebook has turned …
Andrew Orlowski, 04 Feb 2014
The Hindenburg, on fire and doomed above Lakehurst

Tell us we're all doomed, MPs beg climate scientists

MPs begged scientists to tell them what to do at Westminster this week. "I like the idea science tells us something, and we have to agree," said John Robertson (Lab, Glasgow North West) - surely a candidate for Quote of the Year in any year. As we shall discover, the MPs of Parliament's Energy and Climate Change Committee were …
Andrew Orlowski, 31 Jan 2014
Delia Derbyshire tweaks a Jason oscillator

BBC Trust: 'LA LA LA I'M NOT LISTENING' to this DMI mega-tech FAIL

The BBC failed to heed warnings given as early as 2010 that its Digital Media Initiative uber-project was vague and getting nowhere - according to the National Audit Office, which published its investigation into the disaster today. Executives at the Beeb's finance committee, its executive committee and the BBC Trust all …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Jan 2014

BlackBerry makes its devilish Android trickery official in OS update

BlackBerry has started to roll out the latest version of its eponymous Operating System. The tiny incremental increase in version numbering (from 10.2.0 to 10.2.1) belies its importance - for this version runs Android apps at full-tilt, thanks to trickery we described back in November and previewed earlier this month. BlackBerry …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Jan 2014

Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it's serious

What are we to do with Stephen Fry? Britain's go-to guy for advertisement voice-overs has had another attempt at explaining computing history, in his own unique way. But he's got it wrong, and at the same time sullied the memory of one of the industry's true pioneers. Writing on his blog and at The Daily Telegraph, Fry - …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Jan 2014

Feds indict four over alleged Android app copyright infringement

The US Department of Justice has taken a break from handing Amazon an ebook monopoly and instead indicted four operators of Android warez sites. The four charged with criminal copyright infringement operated the sites Snappzmarket and Appbucket, whose domains were seized by the FBI in August 2012. Authorities allege that the …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Jan 2014

What can Microsoft learn from 'discontinued operations' at Nokia?

"Nokia has commenced reporting substantially all of its Devices & Services business as discontinued operations", the company noted dryly in its earnings report last week. The numbers didn't paint a picture Microsoft would have wanted. Lumia sales fell back after four consecutive quarters of growth, having doubled in the past …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Jan 2014

A BBC-by-subscription 'would be richer', MPs told

Could the BBC be better off if it raised money through subscriptions? Last week Westminster heard that the BBC had modelled precisely this scenario and found that it would be richer than it is today. It just didn't want to tell you. And in a strange alignment of interests, the BBC's pay-for rivals don't want you to know either …
Andrew Orlowski, 24 Jan 2014
Derisive laugh

'Netflix bitch': CEO of vid-streaming site taunts HBO chief over results

Over-the-top video streamer Netflix finished the year with over 43 million subscribers, almost all of whom pay, the company reported yesterday. Netflix recorded revenue of $1.1bn in Q4 2013, including its legacy DVD-by-post business, and a slender net income of $48m. It's still going for growth, though, with 10.93 million …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jan 2014

Bored with patent trolls? Small fry - prepare for the Design Trolls

Changes to UK patent and design law affecting thousands of British businesses have been criticised by industry and Labour's front bench business team. The Intellectual Property Bill contains changes to design and patent law proposed in the so-called Google Review, better known as "The Independent Review of IP and Growth” by …
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Jan 2014

Nokia's Android? It's not for the likes of us…

Images of a Nokia phone running a forked branch of Android have been circulating since November - when the project was still very much alive - with many more tumbling out of leak sites last week. For its Kindle HD range, Amazon took the Android code base and ported over its own services, and it looks as if Nokia has done the …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Jan 2014

So Dr Dre, Jimmy Iovine and Trent Reznor walk into a bar

Today finally sees the launch of the much-delayed and much-hyped anticipated Beats Music service in the USA. Its parentage alone assures the service plenty of attention: the lead UI designer is Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails and it's a venture from the headphone manufacturer owned by producers Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine. The CEO …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Jan 2014

Almost everyone read the Verizon v FCC net neutrality verdict WRONG

Doomsday arrived this week – or is about to. That's if you've been reading the tech blogosphere. "We are the Folk Song Army. Everyone of us cares. We all hate poverty, war, and injustice, Unlike the rest of you squares." - Tom Lehrer A US appeals court ruled on Tuesday that America's communications watchdog the FCC didn't …
Andrew Orlowski, 18 Jan 2014

Cocky Spotify drops time limits on free listening, skint music-lovers cheer

As it promised to do before Christmas, Spotify has dropped restrictions on free listening with the celestial jukebox - but it's also removed restrictions on free desktop listening, too. Previously the service capped the number of hours you could listen to music without a subscription. That listening contained advertisments, of …
Andrew Orlowski, 16 Jan 2014

Microsoft buries Sinofsky Era... then jumps on the coffin lid

The path to redemption in 2014 lies not through baptism, but blogging. Former Merrill Lynch dotcom analyst Henry "what a POS*" Blodget agreed to a lifetime ban from the finance industry – but bounced back with a blog. And perhaps one-man wrecking crew Steve Sinofsky, former President of the Windows Division at Microsoft, can …
Andrew Orlowski, 16 Jan 2014

Google stabs Wikipedia in the front

Anyone who doubts the impact of Google's power - it's currently the subject of an antitrust complaint to the European Commission by vertical search companies - needs to read this. The complaints to the Competition Commission maintain that Google's arbitrary promotion of its own material harms the market. But in this case, the …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Jan 2014
Microsoft Nokia logo

Blasphemy! Finns trample over Windows Phone home screen

Nokia's phone division has released an app that might upset the high priests at the Temple of Windows Phone Design – who will shortly become its new masters. The app allows users to add folders to the Windows Phone Home Screen – thereby desecrating the hallowed ground which by almighty decree, Must Never Change. It's part of a …
Andrew Orlowski, 10 Jan 2014
Burning copyright symbol. Photo by: Martin Fisch http://www.flickr.com/photos/marfis75/ on flickr"

UK 'copyright czar' Edmund Quilty quits as Blighty's Director of Copyright Enforcement

Britain's unofficial "copyright czar", Edmund Quilty, is moving on. Probably the most influential civil servant you've never heard of, Quilty has served as the Director of Copyright Enforcement and Policy at the UK patent office for six years, far longer than the typical stint for a career bureaucrat of two years. "We can …
Andrew Orlowski, 09 Jan 2014

Rogue Android: We show you how BlackBerry's pain can be your gain

BlackBerry's comeback with a new operating system, BB10, turned into one of the greatest tech flops of all time. Almost one year after the launch, BlackBerry still sells far more of its ancient BB7 devices than it does BB10 devices. But could you turn BlackBerry’s misfortune to your advantage? With a street price of around £140 …
Andrew Orlowski, 09 Jan 2014

I've seen the future of car radio - and DAB isn't in it

Last month BMW rolled out the first cars to come with a fully integrated on-demand music-streaming service built in. Just before Xmas I took it through its paces to see how it performed and after an hour I was forced to conclude that things look ominous for digital radio, which is likely to be squeezed harder as on-demand …
Andrew Orlowski, 07 Jan 2014
Space Shuttle Endeavor buzzes the Golden Gate Bridge

Blame Silicon Valley for the NSA's data slurp... and what to do about it

Widespread ridicule has greeted the announcement that eight giant technology companies led by Google and including Facebook and LinkedIn were going to save us from the NSA. The ridicule is thoroughly justified, for trusting giant corporations - whose business models rely on selling your identity to advertisers - to safeguard …
Andrew Orlowski, 31 Dec 2013
Original 'Blue Marble' pic taken by Apollo 17 astronauts in 1972

Britain's costliest mistake? Lord Stern defends his climate maths

As the year winds to a close and a new one begins, it's traditional to think about the future and good resolutions we may be keeping. In particular, we thought it would make sense to take a look at the resolution the UK made a few years ago: to cut carbon emissions on a scale unmatched by any other nation. How's that going, and …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Dec 2013
Punk-styled girl with piercing gazes at an apple

Apple loses sauce, BlackBerry squashed and Microsoft, er, WinsPhones (Nokia's)

It was a year where Apple slurped down enormous profits but lost some of its bleeding-edge-tech street cred, while Samsung marched inexorably on. But behind the scenes there was much more going on. Here are the year's trends put through the blender. Apple Apple's strategy is quite simple: instead of making products the …
Andrew Orlowski, 30 Dec 2013
Toshiba LTPS touchscreen LCD

Andrew Fentem: Why I went to an arts quango to fund pre-iPhone multitouch

In the late '90s British inventor Andrew Fentem pioneered multitouch techniques, years before Apple brought them to market in the iPhone and later the iPad. He won backing for his technology from Britain's new innovation quango: but its incompetence meant that Apple ultimately looked elsewhere. We told the story of how the UK …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Dec 2013
Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/eddiedangerous/ licensed under creative commons http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ please attribute

Calling all Spare Rib veterans: Sisters, don't lose your rights!

Contributors to the iconic feminist magazine Spare Rib, which ran from 1972 to 1993, have been warned not to sign away their rights. Last week the British Library contacted over a thousand former contributors giving them just seven days to give their consent to what it described as a "digitisation project". If authors declined …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Dec 2013

Legal bruiser Reback joins Google battle in Europe

The famous American legal bruiser Gary Reback has once again waded into the battle against Google in Europe again. The search giant is currently thrashing out a behind-closed-doors remedy with the European Commission in order to fend off a full Statement of Objections. But the deal's critics say Google’s proposed remedy merely …
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Dec 2013
Aerielle i2i Stream

Analogue radio will CONTINUE in Blighty as Minister of Fun dodges D-Day death sentence

A keynote speech by Culture and Comms Minister Ed Vaizey at the Go Digital conference had been billed for weeks as “D-Day” for UK radio. But in the end, Vaizey kicked the DAB can down the road, setting no new date for a switchover from analogue to digital radio, nor any new threshold for such a switchover. Vaizey thus avoided …
Andrew Orlowski, 16 Dec 2013
Apple G4 Cube

El Reg's contraptions confessional no.3: the Apple G4 Cube

If you're lucky, old gear doesn't so much die as get given away or retired. Indeed, some kit is just too quirky to dispose of, even though it gets wheezy whenever you fire up a browser. Forget computing with it though, says Andrew Orlowski, the value can lie elsewhere. Apple Power Mac G4 Cube Why keep an Apple G4 Cube in the …
Andrew Orlowski, 14 Dec 2013

You gotta fight for your copyright ... Beastie Boys sue toymaker over TV ad

Hip-hop heroes the Beastie Boys aren't impressed by toymaker GoldieBlox's climbdown in their rather bizarre copyright dispute – which started when the building-block company used the band's music in an ad. The MCs have now filed a countersuit against the venture-capital-bankrolled toy biz, which sued the Beasties after …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Dec 2013

How Britain could have invented the iPhone: And how the Quangocracy cocked it up

This is a disturbing, cautionary tale of quasi-government and its bungling. It describes how Britain could have led the recent advances in touchscreen technology, developing kit capable detecting more than one fingertip at once, years before Apple did – if it weren't for the nation's treacle-footed, self-serving quangocracy. …
Andrew Orlowski, 13 Dec 2013

BlackBerry BES: Hey, biz bod, fancy an upgrade on that RIM job... for FREE?

BlackBerry’s Annus horribilis, which has seen the company bombed out of the consumer market has an upside for enterprise users. So keen is the company formerly known as RIM to get its installed BES 5 base onto its new, BYOD-friendly BES 10, it has waived the upgrade fees. Customers who already have a BlackBerry support contract …
Andrew Orlowski, 12 Dec 2013

Got a one-of-a-kind N9? Get ready to adopt Meego's baby Sailfish

The only Meego phone Nokia ever released, the now two-year-old N9, has been given a new lease of life today. Owners can now install the new Meego descendent Sailfish alongside the original OS. Sailfish is an open-source operating system developed by startup Jolla, and is a continuation of the work Nokia did on Meego before it …
Andrew Orlowski, 11 Dec 2013

UK.gov declares digital success as PR, food shops redefined as 'tech' businesses

Are you in PR? Do you sell holidays or food? Congratulations, you're now an internet business! Global financial index provider the FTSE Group has just announced a "widen[ing of] the definition of what constitutes an internet service business" – which gov.uk has been quick to trumpet as a success growing out of its "Tech City UK …
Andrew Orlowski, 09 Dec 2013
Chairman_04

Three offers free US roaming, confirms stealth 4G rollout

Is Hutchison’s Three network playing the canniest game of all with its handling of 4G? The UK operator this week expects to move 1 million customers up to LTE by the end of March next year at no extra cost. The strategy is based on only offering upgrades, thereby avoiding “selling in” new punters to 4G-only tariffs. This means …
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Dec 2013

Brit inventors' GRAVITY POWERED LIGHT ships out after just 1 year

The British-designed Deciwatt gravity-powered lamp is now in production and shipping, a year after the project went public. It was conceived by Martin Riddiford and Jim Reeves of industrial design outfit Therefore, which is best known for clever mechanical designs including the Psion computer keyboard. Therefore invited The …
Andrew Orlowski, 05 Dec 2013
Synology DS214

Bring Your Own Disks: The Synology DS214 network storage box

The Bring-Your-Own-Disks home server market might not be mainstream but it's pretty lively place, with giants like Cisco mixing with obscure Taiwanese box-shifters. And although these quiet, sub-£400 servers make a useful bit of small office kit, the abundance of media awash in family homes and shared digs give them another role …
Andrew Orlowski, 03 Dec 2013

DON'T PANIC: No FM Death Date next month, minister confirms

Culture and Comms Minister Ed Vaizey told Parliament last night he won't announce an expiry date next month for a popular technology that everyone uses and loves: FM radio. Vaizey will, however, make a much-anticipated strategy statement, while the larger radio stations had hoped he'd set a firm date for when broadcasters shift …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Nov 2013

REVEALED: How YOU PAY extra for iPHONES - even if you DON'T HAVE ONE

Apple's secret deals with mobile operators are squeezing smaller companies out of the market and driving up costs even for those who don't use their products, according to Register sources across the industry. "In my opinion Apple are in a grey area," one legal expert with first hand experience of the contracts told us. The …
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Nov 2013
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Why a plain packaging U-turn from UK.gov could cost £3bn a year

According to friendly "leaks" passed to newspapers overnight, the government may force cigarette manufacturers to sell their wares in plain packaging after yet another review, despite rejecting the policy earlier this year. But the gambit is unlikely to withstand the scrutiny of the Chancellor. Why? Plain packaging legislation …
Andrew Orlowski, 28 Nov 2013
Motorola Moto G

Moto G: Google's KitKat bruiser could knock out, bury Landfill Android

Two weeks ago Motorola launched a cheap-as-chips Android phone that by common consent, isn't actually nasty. Quite rightly, the new Motorola Moto G has shot to the top of the picks of smartphones in the sub-£150 price point. In fact, you can pick one up without contract from Amazon for £135. Android has been this cheap before. …
Andrew Orlowski, 27 Nov 2013

Haitian snapper humbles photo giants AFP, Getty Images in $1.2m copyright victory

Photographers have won a landmark victory after a US federal jury awarded $1.2m to freelance photojournalist Daniel Morel after media giants uploaded and credited to themselves some shots he had posted on Twitter. A New York jury decisively backed a Haitian photojournalist Morel in a copyright case against photo agency Getty and …
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Nov 2013

Julie Larson-Green: Yes, MICROSOFT is going to KILL WINDOWS

Microsoft's hardware chief has given the strongest indication yet that Microsoft has too many operating systems. "We have the Windows Phone OS. We have Windows RT and we have full Windows. We're not going to have three," Julie Larson-Green told the audience at a UBS investor event. Larson-Green looks after the "Devices and …
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Nov 2013

Meet the BlackBerry wizardry that created its 'better Android than Android'

Some remarkable technical wizardry lies behind BlackBerry’s Android coup. When it was launched in January, BlackBerry’s new OS was brand new BlackBerry 10 and largely app-less. But today it can execute Android apps at impressive speed. How did they do it? Thanks to some helpful inside knowledge, The Register will reveal it all. …
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Nov 2013
Asus' old Eee girl

Can't wait for 4G? Take heart, 5G is on the way

Mobile data volumes have increased 50 per cent in the year to June, having doubled over the year before that - so the crunch will always be with us. 5G just one of many data applications for spectrum that Ofcom wants you to think about. The regulator today published a spectrum consultation focusing on mobile data. Ofcom thinks …
Andrew Orlowski, 22 Nov 2013

Lumia 1520: Our man screams into ENORMO new Nokia phondleslab

So we’re all Dom Joly now - shouting into gigantically oversized phones. Well, not everybody - but large devices have seen amazing sales increase in the 18 months, catapulting them out of the techie niche they’ve quietly inhabited for years. You can say phablet, we prefer “phondleslab”. Whatever they’re called, these pocket- …
Andrew Orlowski, 21 Nov 2013
Disney's Beagle Boys

Instagram Act: UK.gov's latest copyright landgrab stymied - for now

Remember the notorious ‘Instagram Act’? If you recall, clauses smuggled into April’s Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act (ERRA) - in the name of allowing reuse of orphan works - paved the way for the Government to grab your photographs and other visual images, in breach of international conventions. The mechanics of the scheme …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Nov 2013

Codd almighty! How IBM cracked System R

Few teams have maintained such a fierce community spirit as the IBM pioneers of System R. In Silicon Valley in the early 1970s, this pioneering team proved that a relational database could actually work. It's a fascinating story, best known today because IBM failed to capitalise on its research. But it's also a timeless one, …
Andrew Orlowski, 20 Nov 2013

Nokia's phone division burned us so badly we HAD to flog it, says CEO

Nokia’s smartphone strategy was unaffordable, the company’s chairman said at an extraordinary general meeting today, defending the €5.44bn sale of the phones division to Microsoft. Nokia had called the EGM to seek shareholder approval for the deal. The EGM drew a far larger crowd to the Helsinki Ice Hall than was usual, some 5, …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Nov 2013

The REAL JUICE behind leaked BlackBerry OS: Android apps to slip in without protection

BlackBerry may have “solved” its app problem - but at the expense of the health of its native BB10 app market. Android apps can now be installed without conversion, and run at near-native speed on BlackBerry devices, after the latest leaks of BlackBerry OS 10.2.1. Of course, BlackBerry would prefer developers to write native …
Andrew Orlowski, 19 Nov 2013