Simon Rockman

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Mobile and Motoring Correspondent. The former editor of Amstrad User, Amiga Computing, Personal Computer World, What Mobile and a number of other blast-from-the-past titles, Simon has worked for Motorola, Sony Ericsson and the GSMA. He has great contacts in the mobile industry, where his specialities are phones for seniors and mobile payments. He also covers Bitcoin and 3D printing. Simon regularly reviews the latest and most interesting cars for The Register as the Vulture behind the wheel.

It's the Internet of Feet: Lenovo shows smart shoes, projector keyboard phone

Chinese tech giant Lenovo has been showing things it’s making and things it wants to make at Lenovo Tech World in Beijing. Cool gizmos include a display technology for smart watches that produces a virtual screen bigger than the watch. The company calls it “Magic View”. It’s a small screen below the main watch screen that looks …
Simon Rockman, 28 May 2015
shutterstock_57979207-missing-watch

Crafty fingering could let Apple Watch thieves raid your bank account

Updated Deft watch thieves could circumvent the biometric security in an Apple Watch to empty your bank account. The Apple Watch uses the heart rate monitor to tell when it has been taken off your wrist. This locks the watch so that you need to enter a PIN to use the watch again, but means you don’t have to enter a PIN every time you do …
Simon Rockman, 28 May 2015
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Boffins create tiny holographic battery that fits INSIDE a chip

A battery small enough to be mounted inside a chip has been developed at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The technology to do this combines 3D holographic lithography, 2D photolithography and low-power electroplating – all techniques which are standard in processor production. The special ingredient is the ability to …
Simon Rockman, 27 May 2015

Mozilla: We don't give a damn about cheap smartphones

Browser-turned-OS-institution Mozilla has acknowledged that its $25 phone has failed. Firefox OS was launched with a strategy of not being Google or Apple, into the warm bosom of Telefonica and seventeen other operators at Mobile World Congress in 2013. At the time, we predicted that it would go the way of Symbian, SavaJe and …
Simon Rockman, 27 May 2015
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Mergers scuttle strategy as Ofcom reneges on spectrum promise

Ofcom wants to hold onto the 60MHz of the 190MHz of spectrum it had announced would be for sale, and is floating the idea of scaling things back, citing a change in market conditions for the sale, slated for the end of this year or the beginning of next. In the revision to the proposals, Ofcom said: “Since the publication of …
Simon Rockman, 27 May 2015
Learning how to say Huawei

Cheesy video shows ex-Gooners pronouncing 'Huawei'

John Hartson, Ray Parlour and Nigel Winterburn – a veritable array of ex-Arsenal players – have learned how to say 'Huawei'. The desperate-to-be-European telco is the official smartphone sponsor for Arsenal – a role it took over from Samsung – and sells a special branded version of the Ascend P7 to Gooners. It features “The …
Simon Rockman, 26 May 2015
404bhp of refined fun

Maserati Ghibli S: Who cares what Joe Walsh thinks?

Vulture at the wheel When Joe Walsh sang “My Maserati does 185, I lost my licence so now I don’t drive”, he was lying. In 1978 no Maserati could do that speed. He could have had been talking km/h, in which case it might have been an earlier-generation Ghibli: that did 155mph, or 174mph if he had the Ghibli SS. The Ghibli S reviewed here won’t do 185 …
Simon Rockman, 24 May 2015

Xiaomi greets MediaTek with a handshake, Qualcomm feels awkward

The latest top-of-the-range phone from handset maker and rising dragon Xiaomi will use the ambitious ten core Helio X20 processor from semiconductor company MediaTek. A surprise move, given that the Chinese Apple-wannabe has already put Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 in its Note-series smartphones. The move is also bad news for …
Simon Rockman, 22 May 2015

Nokia getting there with HERE as rivals talk up price

Nokia HERE, its mapping and location businesses, might be worth more than the former handset giant thought, as rival companies talk up the value, and a consortium of car companies square up to an alliance of Uber and China’s Baidu. Nokia bought Navteq for $8.1bn and renamed it HERE, and then fell on hard times and sold its phone …
Simon Rockman, 22 May 2015
Belgacom phone box. Pic: Peter van den Bossche

Belgian telco prepares to tear out last of nation's phone boxes

Proximus, the Belgian mobile operator, is about to complete the process of removing its last 300 phone boxes. The last will be ceremonially felled on June 1 in Antwerp. As part of the removal of the phone boxes, thirty of them were put up as prizes in a competition which took the form of a cultural project. (link via Google …
Simon Rockman, 21 May 2015
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Mobiles at school could be MAKING YOUR KID MORE DUMBER

Restricting smart watch and mobile phone use can be a low-cost policy to reduce educational inequalities. This is the conclusion of a report by Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy working at the London School of Economics Centre for Economic Performance (pdf) and Louisiana State University. The survey looked at a number of …
Simon Rockman, 21 May 2015
Vittorio Colao (CEO)

Brexit-fearing Vodafone: Of course we’ll make money from 4G

Vodafone has announced steady-as-she-goes results for the year to 31 March 2015, with group revenue up 10.1 per cent to £42.2bn, and the first increase in service revenue for ten quarters (albeit only 0.1 per cent) — all pretty much in line with what the company had forecast. Emerging markets saw a six per cent increase, …
Simon Rockman, 20 May 2015
shutterstock_222258445-roadblock

Blocking mobile adverts just became that little bit easier

For those mobile operators wanting to block adverts and prevent them reaching subscribers' screens (all in the name of reducing bandwidth usage and saving customers’ money of course) Israeli tech company Shine can make that happen. “There is a lot of grey in there between advertisers and publishers,” said Roi Carthy, the company …
Simon Rockman, 19 May 2015
Bebo president Joanna Shields

Ex 'Tech City' chief Shields appointed junior Fun minister for internet safety

Tory Baroness Joanna Shields OBE, ex-Tech City supremo, ex-head of Bebo*, ex-head of Facebook Europe and ex-MD of Google EMEA, has been appointed minister for internet safety and security. Shields was awarded the OBE in the 2014 New Year’s Honours list and elevated to the peerage the following August. The Telegraph reports that …
Simon Rockman, 18 May 2015
Playground hero

The yummy mummies' likeable wagon: Nissan Qashqai Tekna

Vulture at the Wheel The favoured steed of yummy mummies, Nissan's Qashqai, has become quite a hit. And it’s something that ticks all the boxes – high driving position, looks cool, eco credentials. All this is the kind of thing which would normally lead me to regard the car with caution; something which was all fluff and no substance. Particularly …
Simon Rockman, 17 May 2015
Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Pic: openDemocracy

Turkey president: Nuts to 4G networks, we're cutting straight to 5G

Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that as Turkey doesn’t have 4G yet, the country might as well wait a couple of years and go straight to 5G. This is a pretty bold move given that we don’t even know what 5G is yet – although there are expected to be some announcements from the ITU in June. Most countries are …
Simon Rockman, 15 May 2015
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Jeb Bush: Repeal Obamacare and replace it with APPLE WATCHES

John "Jeb" Bush, younger brother of ex-president George “Dubya” Bush and former Governor of Florida, has found the solution to America’s healthcare problems: his Apple Watch. At a “town hall” meeting at the Chamber of Commerce in Tempe, Arizona, Jeb said: “I think we should repeal Obamacare,” before pointing at his wristjob, …
Simon Rockman, 15 May 2015
HTC One M9 Android smartphone

Record smartphones sales, but feature phones far from dead

The first quarter of 2015 saw global smartphone sales set a new record of $96 billion, with the most desirable elements being big screens and 4G. The stats come from market analysis firm GfK, which compiles figures for the top handset manufacturers — so while it's happy to trumpet the good numbers, any questions about who sold …
Simon Rockman, 15 May 2015
Sucking nectar, spewing pollen

BUZZKILL. Honeybees are dying in DROVES - and here's a reason why

American honey bee numbers briefly stopped falling off a cliff last year, but apiarists are now warning that was a blip, not a flattening of the trend. This year over 40 per cent of colonies were seen to die out, up from a yearly average of 30 per cent. Last year however, that number dipped to just 23 per cent, a move welcomed …
Simon Rockman, 14 May 2015
Dido Harding, Chief Executive of TalkTalk

TalkTalk unveils best results ever – and its share price dips

TalkTalk's share price dropped two per cent after it delivered its best ever quarterly financial results, for the end of 2014. The company posted revenue in the 12 months to 31 March 2015 of £1.8bn, up 4.2 per cent on the previous year, and profit of £76m, up 24.6 per cent, helped by improved efficiency. Unusually for TalkTalk …
Simon Rockman, 14 May 2015
Study Confirms High Effectiveness of Low Speed Autonomous Emergency Braking

Self-STOPPING cars are A Good Thing, say motor safety bods

Having your car automatically slam on the brakes to avoid a low-speed accident leads to a 38 per cent reduction in real-world rear-end crashes, says a road safety organisation. European road safety research organisation Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) carried out an analysis of data from various countries. The full …
Simon Rockman, 14 May 2015

Mobe network Three is the magic number for FreedomPop

The MVNO beloved by Californians, FreedomPop, is courting beta testers in the UK. The service will offer 200MBs of data, 200 voice minutes, and 200 texts completely free each month via the FreedomPop app, or new international SIM. FreedomPop is now accepting orders on a first-come, first-serve basis. Numbers are allocated by …
Simon Rockman, 13 May 2015
Workers in a Foxconn plant, credit: Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA

Foxconn joins the Cyanogen investment party

Chinese iPhone manufacturer Foxconn has joined Twitter, Qualcomm, Telefónica and others to swell Cyanogen’s round C funding to $110m. Neither company is saying how much Foxconn is investing, but before the announcement the round C stood at $80m. The money will go to build on the Cyanogen platform – which riffs on Android – “to …
Simon Rockman, 13 May 2015
Maybe it won't look like this

Tesco tries to talk Tesco Mobile up from 'Value' to 'Finest' ahead of sale

Analysis Tesco is rumoured to be selling off Tesco Mobile, its mobile phone network. The move comes as no surprise, with the company hauling back to its core businesses after dismal results, recently writing down assets to post a loss of £6.4bn. Figures given for the value of the business sit at about £700m. This is on the basis of Tesco …
Simon Rockman, 13 May 2015
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Backwaters in rural England getting non-BT gigabit broadband

Rural English villages that almost nobody has heard of are set to receive broadband connections that are nearly fifty times faster than the national average. Baywood, Wooton, Dry, Sunningwell, Boars Hill and others will benefit from infrastructure being rolled out by small telco Gigaclear, which is laying fibre to the premises …
Simon Rockman, 12 May 2015
Cash in brown paper envelope CC 2.0 attribution StockMonkeys.com

Verizon in SUDDEN $4.4bn AOL GOBBLE, aims to make fourplay more exciting

Verizon Communications is buying AOL for $4.4bn, apparently to strengthen its hand at video advertising. This comes on the back of Verizon’s existing plans to launch a video snacking service for mobes, with descriptions making it sound as though the plan will be using LTE-broadcast. Verizon is particularly interested in AOL’s …
Simon Rockman, 12 May 2015
Image from Shutterstock 161369036

Boffins set to reveal state of play on fully duplex comms - on the same FREQ

A conference at Bristol university is set to reveal the current state of the art on Full Duplex technology, which allows for transmitting and receiving signals on the same frequency at the same time. The idea that a radio can simultaneously shout and listen has been regarded as both old, established technology and a bonkers …
Simon Rockman, 11 May 2015
The Aston Martin HQ at Gaydon houses the factory

Like a Dell factory but what comes out is a LOT more fun: We visit Aston Martin

Vulture @ the Wheel Aston Martin wants to take on Tesla with a 1,000bhp electric version of its Rapide S. The prestige British marque has also recently announced that it has secured funding to build an all-electric crossover car called the DBX. This is all part of a 200m expansion plan for the firm's factory in Gaydon, Warwickshire, and it seemed …
Simon Rockman, 10 May 2015
The smallest vehicle in the Mercedes Range

Going up hills past blokes with coke-bottle legs: The Smart E-bike

Vulture in the Saddle Eighteen miles an hour:It’s the difference between loving the Smart E-bike and hating it. This is because the bike is electrically assisted up to 15 mph – the legal limit for assistance in Europe – and beyond that pedalling the very heavy machine becomes exceptionally hard work. Below that speed it’s wonderful. The 200 watt …
Simon Rockman, 08 May 2015
management regulation2

Ericsson to Apple: Cough up for licences or stop selling iPhones, iPads and Watches

The expiry of patent licences from Ericsson means that Apple has been selling phones it should not have been, according to Ericsson, and the Swedish commtech firm has now asked Apple to pay up or stop doing it. Ericsson has filed suits in Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands against Apple's products. The whole area of …
Simon Rockman, 08 May 2015
2.0 190ps

Volkswagen Passat GT 2.0-litre TDI SCR 190 PS 6spd DSG

VULTURE AT THE WHEEL The VW Passat 2/0 is a car you buy with your head. All cars are a combination of a head and heart purchase. Some, like an Atom or Elise swing wildly towards the heart. Some like the Skoda Citigo are bought on numbers and practicality. All manufacturers try to inject some aspect of both into their cars. Even if it’s just lowering …
Simon Rockman, 07 May 2015
 The Sinclair Spectrum Vega design.

Crowdfunded ZX Spectrum revival just days from shipment

The remake of the Sinclair Spectrum from Retro Computers is about to ship. Despite our suggestion that it was a rubbish idea 4,549 of the 7,193 Reg readers who voted in our poll disagreed and quite a few must have put their money where their mouse is - as the first 1,000 Vegas sold out shortly after our article appeared. The …
Simon Rockman, 07 May 2015
The Barclaycard wristband was aimed at tube users

Barclaycard axes bonking payments bracelet

Barclaycard will be switching off the service for the bPay mobile payments bracelet on May 31st. The company claims that there will be a replacement in June and, while it can’t say what that will be, it is willing to share the expectation that it will be really, really good. The bank told us: "To do this we need to make some …
Simon Rockman, 06 May 2015
Blingtastic Samsung Galaxy

Samsung S6: You might get a Sony camera in it - or you might not

When you buy a Samsung S6 you might get the impressive Sony IMX240 camera sensor ... or you might get the Samsung Isocell unit. In the published specifications for S6 and S6 Edge, Samsung doesn’t give any details on the camera sensor, saying just “16MP OIS(rear), 5MP (front)” but the two sensors are pretty different and there is …
Simon Rockman, 06 May 2015
Looks like DNA

Great, we all want 5G mobile broadband. Now just how are we gonna wire it all up?

The UN's International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has set up a new focus group to look at how today’s landline networks can be adapted to provide the backhaul for 5G. In other words, how to use today's cabling to link high-speed 5G phone masts to carrier networks and the wider internet. Some of the language the ITU uses has …
Simon Rockman, 06 May 2015
Samsung smart TV running Tizen

New Tizen phone leaked: Remember it's not all just Android and iOS

A second Samsung Tizen phone has been leaked showing that the nice mobile OS - which has the great merit of not being Android - hasn’t been forgotten by the Korean Company. Details of the new phone have appeared on the site Tizen Experts which not only shows the phone but gives some details of the specification. It’s got an …
Simon Rockman, 05 May 2015
£10 notes. Pic: Howard Lake

Firm with 80 per cent of UK mobile numbers fails to monetise them, sold to O2

Weve, the mobile marketing consortium of EE, O2 and Vodafone, is being sold to O2. The organisation, which was formed with £38m from its wealthy parents under the codename “Project Oscar” fought significant regulatory hurdles with the aim of building a common technology for mobile NFC payments. Weve was launched at the end of …
Simon Rockman, 05 May 2015
Apple Watch lineup

Apple Watch fanbois suffer PAINFUL RASH after sweaty wristjob action

Apple has been granted a couple of patents (here and there) on linking two devices using a moving graphic on the display of a watch. A camera on the device which is being paired reads an “invisible” image. The technology apes the 1994 Timex Datalink which employed flashing bars on the CRT of a computer running Windows 95 to send …
Simon Rockman, 05 May 2015
LG G4 with leather backs

Snapdragon 810 chip doesn't overheat, jilted Qualcomm sniffs at LG

Qualcomm is hitting back at the suggestion its Snapdragon 810 system-on-chip overheats, while carefully making sure it doesn't call its customer LG a cheapskate. Critics argue that if the 64-bit ARM-compatible Snapdragon 810 was problem-free, it would have been chosen by LG for the new flagship G4, which was launched this week …
Simon Rockman, 30 Apr 2015
Kim Kardashian. Pic: Eva Rinaldi

Bulging booty bird Kim Kardashian date game biz adds Britney Spears to bottom line

Chinese social network Tencent has agreed to buy 14.6 per cent of mobile game developer Glu Mobile for $126m. Glu is best known for its Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, where you get to “date and dump celebs at the best parties and hottest clubs! Flirt and become the next huge celebrity power-couple!”. Yesterday the company announced …
Simon Rockman, 30 Apr 2015

UK exam board wants kids to be able to Google answers

Poll The Oxford, Cambridge and RSA (OCR) exam board wants pupils to be allowed to use Google to search for answers in exams. The proposal has been put forward by Mark Dawe, the OCR exam board chief executive, who claims that using Google is akin to using a calculator in mathematics and that there should be Google and non-Google …
Simon Rockman, 30 Apr 2015
crash test dummies

Your new car will dob you in to the cops if you crash, decrees EU

New cars sold in the EU from March 2018 will have to phone the authorities if they think they've been in a crash. A watered-down version of the eCall proposal has found favour with the EU Commission, meaning when a car or light van crashes, it will automatically summon the emergency services. It will use the emergency number of …
Simon Rockman, 29 Apr 2015
iot_internet_of_things

Tencent introduces slimmed-down wristjob TOS to swollen market

A new lightweight OS for internet-of-things things has been announced by Chinese megacorp Tencent. The new TOS, is a new intelligent, open OS, jumping into a market which is clearly underserved, as there is only the Cyanogen spin of Android, Kindle’s spin of Android, Xiaomi’s MIUI (a spin of Android), Samsung’s Tizen, ARM’s mbed …
Simon Rockman, 28 Apr 2015

Range Rover Sport: Like a cathedral on wheels, only with comfier pews

Vulture at the wheel It’s all about the headrests. Forget the 4.4 litre V8, the defining feature of the Range Rover Sport is the driver's headrest. It’s an analogue for the rest of the car: supremely comfortable and cosseting. It’s a bit fraudulent to review the “best four by four by far” without taking it on as much as a dirt road, let alone a …
Simon Rockman, 28 Apr 2015
David Cameron

David Cameron 'guarantees' action on mobe not-spots. Honest

It’s election time, so all the party leaders are promising everything to everyone. The latest one from David Cameron is good mobile phone coverage. According to Mobile News, Cameron told a meeting of chartered accountants: “These things aren’t discussed in some dusty corner of a business park. They are discussed round the …
Simon Rockman, 28 Apr 2015

New antenna supports all three wireless charging standards

A new antenna design aims to solve the two major problems with wireless charging: the mess of standards and the limitations of transmitting power by radio. The antenna, built by Chicago company NuCurrent, can support the wireless charging standards of Qi, the Power Matters Association (PMA) and the Association for Wireless Power …
Simon Rockman, 28 Apr 2015
Night sky over Hawaii

Eco-loons hack Thirty Meter Telescope website to help the 'natives'

A cyber attack downed the Hawaiian Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT)'s official website for two hours in protest against the construction on Mauna Kea. A group called Operation Green Rights, claiming to be affiliated to Anonymous, launched a primitive DDoS attack on the TMT and Hawaiian government sites, posting trophy screen grabs …
Simon Rockman, 27 Apr 2015
MIPS Creator CI20 development board

MIPS quietly bares its processor architecture to universities

The MIPS processor architecture behind many graphics cards and the PlayStation 2 is being laid bare by its licensee Imagination Technologies. While ARM and Intel dominate the chip market, the MIPS third option is still a significant player in the industry – but what goes on inside processors is a closely guarded secret. …
Simon Rockman, 27 Apr 2015
Apple Watch lineup

Apple Watch: Exactly how many vids does it take to teach a fanboi to tell the time?

A mini-series of tutorial videos has appeared on the Apple website, giving step-by-tap instructions on how to use the new shiny wristjob. All the videos have the same super-high Apple production quality and patronising voice-overs, telling you things like “to read the time you don’t even need to switch it on”. In the message …
Simon Rockman, 24 Apr 2015
5_pounds_sterling_money_cash_moolah

giffgaff riff-raff hacked off with lift-off of cash spaff

giffgaff claims to be “the network run by you”, so perhaps it shouldn’t be quite so surprised when the online community objects to what was a mobile phone company suddenly deciding it’s a bank. The “run by you” bit means that the company worries a lot about what customers say in the forums. And what the “owners” are saying is …
Simon Rockman, 24 Apr 2015