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.
Think golf buggy meets milk float

Living with a Renault Twizy: Pah! Bring out the HOVERCRAFT

VULTURE AT THE WHEEL If you saw the Top Gear where James May drove a Renault Twizy to win a city commuting challenge, you might get the impression that it’s a fun little car. Renault Twizy by Simon Rockman Sensible is NOT the first word that comes to mind when you see this dorky 'leccy little 'un. If you’ve read our review of the Tesla S, you …
Simon Rockman, 31 Jan 2015
Overcharging? That'll be because electric cars are expenisive

Tesla bumps up Model S P85D acceleration – with software update

Vid An over-the-air software update to the dual-motor Tesla Model S P85D will cut its zero to 60MPH time from 3.2 to 3.1 seconds. Elon Musk took to Twitter to announce the upgrade: Tesla P85D 0 to 60mph acceleration will improve by ~0.1 sec soon via over-the-air software update to inverter algorithm — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jan 2015
Tim Cook as Mr T

Apple CEO: Fandroids are BINNING Android in favour of IPHONES

Apple is wolfing down KitKats and Lollipops for lunch after it emerged that most iPhone 6 users have come from Android. Fruity Führer Tim Cook has told the Wall Street Journal that only 15 per cent of iPhone 6 customers have upgraded from other iPhones. It’s the first time he’s given a number for this trend, and although he’s …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jan 2015

Whee! BT preps for FIVE HUNDRED MEGABIT broadband trial

BT has announced that it wants to roll out G.fast and fibre to the home to provide internet speeds of up to 500Mbps and 1Gbps. G.fast is a technology that gets fibre closer to the home and leaves traditional copper twisted pair to the last leg, so that drives and gardens don’t have to be dug up, but uses interference cancelling …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jan 2015
Starry_night_tech_bed_3

Sky sidles up to O2, whispers: 'Fancy a little FOUR-PLAY?'

As we predicted, Sky is to launch an MVNO and get competitive against the other networks' four-play offerings. What we got wrong in our prediction was that the deal would be with Vodafone; Sky has instead jumped into bed with O2. The deal will allow Sky to offer a Four-play service of TV, Broadband, fixed and mobile phones, the …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jan 2015
Xbox 360 Wireless Controller

NXP flings sueball at Marvell over Xbox NFC chips

NXP Semiconductors, the chipmaker which was once part of Philips, has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Marvell Electronics, alleging that its patented wireless technology has been used in the Microsoft Xbox. NXP claims that Marvell's Avastar chips infringe on four NXP patents, including three related to getting …
Simon Rockman, 29 Jan 2015
Checking comms at supersonic speeds

Supersonic Bloodhound car techies in screaming 650mph comms test

Engineers from the Bloodhound supersonic car world record attempt have been testing their radio comms gear as plans to stream the 1,000mph (1,610kmph) event live come together. Live-streaming the car's record-breaking run is no trivial matter. Given that you can’t even maintain a phone call on a London train, trying to maintain …
Simon Rockman, 29 Jan 2015

EE squashes Orange UK: France Telecom's been 'destroying it for years'

With BT now expected to complete the deal to buy EE, it has been reported that EE will kill off the T-Mobile and Orange brands in the UK. The mix of brands from BT, EE, T-Mobile and Orange is all a bit confusing. Nobody will mourn T-Mobile, and it was always a bit uncomfortable after the success of the One2One brand which …
Simon Rockman, 28 Jan 2015
Allows signals to reack those difficult places

Post-modem Ericsson wobbles thanks to flat sales and falling profits

Ericsson's flat sales last year were the result of its disappointing fourth quarter, especially in America, its latest financial results show. The Swedish company is still the biggest supplier of mobile network infrastructure in the world, and in the fourth quarter it saw strong sales growth in the Middle East, Asia and Europe …
Simon Rockman, 27 Jan 2015
ip.wireless picocell

Euro mobile standards chiefs eye tiny beauty: It's the KEY to 5G

The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), which sets the standards for mobile comms, has just started work on five specifications for millimetre Wave Transmission – the 30GHz to 300GHz range. The new Industry Specification Group on millimetre Wave Transmission (ISG mWT) held its first meeting last week and will …
Simon Rockman, 27 Jan 2015
Keyboard where return key is marked communication and to its left is a key with the Cuban flag. Copyright: xtock, Photo via Shutterstock

Cubans defy government's home internet ban with secret home-made network

Cubans are fighting back against restrictions on their use of internet with SNet, a secret network. Also known as StreetNet, it pools the resources of citizens, who are effectively prohibited from using the internet. The Washington Post reports that while the full fat internet in Cuba is government-controlled – home internet is …
Simon Rockman, 26 Jan 2015
image from shutterstock_148618127

Brightstar deal means Post Office mobile network could be a thing

The Post Office is ramping up its plans to become a virtual mobile phone network, with hardware distributor Brightstar being appointed to handle logistics for SIMs and phones. The deal between the Post Office and EE to provide an MVNO, a virtual network with the Post Office brand, was revealed in 2012 when a Request for …
Simon Rockman, 26 Jan 2015
School run car

Chunky Swedish ice maiden: Volvo XC60 D4 Manual EE Lux Nav

Vulture at the Wheel Why did the nice man from Volvo find me peering at the dashboard with a torch when he came to collect the XC60 I was testing? It was because I was looking very hard at the lights, which show when the left and right turn indicators are flashing. The dashboard is a collection of LCD screens, and I was trying to decide if someone …
Simon Rockman, 24 Jan 2015
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

Then there were 3: Another UK mobile network borged ...

Analysis Telefonica has sold O2 to Three big-daddy Hutchison Whampoa for £10bn - and it pretty much had to. Here's why. Telefonica had shown its hand in trying to flog its O2 biz to BT, revealing that it wasn’t interested keeping the brand; Telefonica smacks of never really having its heart in the venture. With BT buying EE, and …
Simon Rockman, 23 Jan 2015
John Chen

FORCE Apple to support BlackBerry hardware, demands John Chen

In a blog post on the BlackBerry website, CEO John Chen has called on regulators to force Apple and Netflix to support Blackberry hardware, claiming this forms part of the ongoing net neutrality debate. He argues that because BlackBerry has the eyes, ears and fingers of the most important people in the world – thanks to its …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jan 2015
The SAMSUNG GALAXY ALPHA lies on a white background, displays Home screen icons.

LEAKED: Samsung's iPHONE 6 KILLER... the Samsung Galaxy S6

Newly leaked specifications for the Samsung Galaxy S6 show the South Korean company taking the fight back to Apple. The expected flagship is expected to debut a year after we saw the S5 at Mobile World Congress. The “64-bit eight-core 14nm CPU which is 50% faster” could be the rumoured Snapdragon 820, but that’s likely to be …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jan 2015

LEAKED Qualcomm processors reveal sexy new specs

Specs of the new Qualcomm 820 and 600 family processors have leaked out ahead of the Mobile World Congress. The new 820 is the successor to the Snapdragon 810, which was launched last April. Qualcomm echoes Elite and names its cores after snakes. The new TS2 core is a 14nm processor, which Tom’s Hardware believes is codenamed …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jan 2015
fingers pointing at man

'If you see a stylus, they BLEW it' – Steve Jobs. REMEMBER, Apple?

Analysis firm KGI claims Apple will offer a stylus with its 12.9” iPad. If true, this would represent a volte face for Apple, which has always derided fondleslabs that used any pointing device other than a human finger attached to a human arm. The claims appear in a report leaked to Apple Insider. The KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo …
Simon Rockman, 19 Jan 2015
Slick looking picture of  xiaomi's Mi3 Android smartphone

China's Apple? PAH! We're looking for SUCCESS in internet TV – Xiaomi

Rising star mobile company Xiaomi is planning an assault on TV content and has reportedly set aside $1bn with which to do it. The company – which is currently giving Samsung a run for its money and recently raised $1.1bn to value the company at $45bn – has budgeted $1bn for building internet content in China and foreign markets …
Simon Rockman, 19 Jan 2015

German iron meets Monaco's highlands: Audi A1 review

Vulture at the Wheel It’s all about the steering. The face-lifted Audi A1 has eschewed the trend to drive-by-wire and has mechanical steering with variable electrical assistance. I drove the new 1.0 three-cylinder petrol engine version, and over the miles what started as a nice little practical town car turned into a fun little toy. Reviewing cars …
Simon Rockman, 17 Jan 2015
"334/365 this is a phoooonne!!!" - Lazurite

UK's landmark mobile not-spot deal already falling apart

The made-of-straw “landmark deal” to fix the not-spots in mobile phone infrastructure - which has made the UK the poor man of Europe in mobile coverage - is already starting to crumble. The necessary planning regulation to make it easier for the networks to roll out coverage to 90 per cent of the UK is being clumsily rushed …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jan 2015
Cartoon of fist clutching dollars smashing out of smartphone

Microsoft & Paypal link hands, turn round and slap Apple Pay

Microsoft will start supporting PayPal’s "PayPal Here" hardware, so people can buy things with their mobile phones. The partnership, which is only for the US initially, will allow retailers to use a Lumia or Surface to take payments through PayPal. The idea is that they will then want to use Microsoft products rather than …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jan 2015

Disney, McLaren and National Rail walk into bar: Barkeep, make me a Wearable

A £210,000 fund has been put up by Innovate UK to promote development of wearable tech and big name companies have jumped at the chance to be associated with the coolest thing since “apps” and “cloud” became passé. Innovate UK is what used to be known as the Technology Strategy Board and is the governmental organisation that …
Simon Rockman, 13 Jan 2015
jack russells racing with knitted 'jockeys' on their backs

You go fast, but we go 'further' and 'deeper' – Voda tells 'Speedy' EE

In a blog on the Vodafone website, its UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp claims the global operator could build something as fast, or faster than, EE’s 300Mbps - it just doesn’t want to. Hoencamp claims that “one of the things that makes us different from others is that we have our 'low band spectrum'. What that means is that our 4G is on …
Simon Rockman, 13 Jan 2015
SpaceX concept of DragonLab - a Dragon re-entry capsule with unpressurised trunk attached

ROBOT-ON-DRAGON GRABHAND ACTION: SpaceX supply podule arrives at ISS

Elon Musk’s Dragon module has successfully docked with the ISS Harmony module for its resupply mission. NASA tweeted that the Dragon berthed at 5:54 ET and secured: #Dragon now bolted to #ISS! #ISScargo unloading scheduled to begin Tuesday. What's aboard: http://t.co/kluw3s9KkY pic.twitter.com/muCo16MDIU — NASA (@NASA) January …
Simon Rockman, 12 Jan 2015
An Android robot blushes from embarrassment

Android users are massive wan … er … smut consumers

Stats from self-pleasuring site Pornhub (link vaguely NSFW - no pics but still contains the word Pornhub) show that mobile viewing has overtaken desktop, and Android is the OS of choice for viewers of its select content. The, ahem, growth is in part down to the site removing its limit on the number of videos a day that can be …
Simon Rockman, 12 Jan 2015

Tesla S P85+: Smiling all the way to the next charging point

Vulture at the Wheel The Tesla S is astonishing. I’d driven one around the London Docklands at a launch, but a week with one has me converted to merits of auto electricity. I have to admit I was sceptical. Electric car owners as a tribe can be quite hard work. They are always convinced that their cars are wonderful, even the ones with G-Wizzes. So …
Simon Rockman, 11 Jan 2015
Lenovo's P90

Lenovo hopes to say Hello Moto to smartphone cash

A year after buying Motorola, Lenovo is looking to sell a lot of its once highly popular phones. The Chinese company expects the brand to account for 40 per cent of the smartphones it sells next year. Combined Motorola and Lenovo sales of smartphones last year were 85 million. This would make it the third-largest smartphone …
Simon Rockman, 09 Jan 2015
Airwave has given the police reliable comms

Police radios will be KILLED soon – yet no one dares say 'Huawei'

In less than 18 months' time the police radio network will be switched off. There is no obvious replacement and the looming omnishambles is turning into a bonanza for Arqiva, the only company brave enough to offer a solution. Peter Neyroud CBE, former head of the National Policing Improvement Agency and now at the University of …

Right, who feels like going to an Ofcom meeting? Anyone? Bueller?

Ofcom has released a draft of its plans for 2015 and 2016, promising to protect citizens, as well as allow them to express a view on developments, which is nice. The final plan will be published in March, but the draft allows interested parties to express a view, to be aired at one of a series of public meetings which you can …
Simon Rockman, 07 Jan 2015
A 3D printed speaker

3D printer bods offer New Year's resolution (geddit?)

Formlabs, the company that makes the Form 1+ 3D printer, has announced a software upgrade that improves printing speed and reduces the size of supports to increase speed, reduce the amount of resin used and thus lower 3D printing costs. New Year, New Resolution. from Formlabs on Vimeo. The speed comes from a new Draft Mode, a …
Simon Rockman, 07 Jan 2015
Qualcomm President Derek Aberle

Qualcomm prez says nowt about $1bn China fine rumours

CES 2015 China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) claims Qualcomm is overcharging and abusing its market position, something for which the US chip company may be fined $1bn. At the Qualcomm CES press conference, president Derek Aberle highlighted the dispute as “one of the highest priorities for our management team”. …
Simon Rockman, 06 Jan 2015
Koda's First phone

Kodak fires a Bullitt at oldsters with 3G mobe launch

CES 2015 Kodak has launched its first mobile phone, the Kodak IM5 smartphone. It's aimed at the more mature users who are looking at moving to a smartphone but want a brand they find reassuring. The device is made by Bullitt Group, best known for its Caterpillar rugged phones. The IM5 is a fairly standard Android phone with a 13Mp …
Simon Rockman, 06 Jan 2015
Lego Pirate Captain

Cap’n Ericsson and his great SEABORNE CLOUD wheeze

CES 2015 Ericsson has launched a “Maritime ICT Cloud”, mainly supporting logistical operations, as well as connecting vessels at sea with shore-based operations, maintenance service providers, customer support centres, fleet/transportation partners, port operations and authorities. There are also tools for voyage optimization, cargo …
Simon Rockman, 06 Jan 2015
Man in an orange jumpsuit clutches prison bars. Image by Shutterstock

No cellphones in cells, you slag! UK.gov moots prison mobe zap law

New legislation to be discussed in Parliament today will compel mobile phone networks to cut off the phones of criminals who use mobile phones in prison. There is no onus on the Prison Service to prove a targeted phone is being used by a specific prisoner; the service will be able to apply to a court for it to be disconnected …
Simon Rockman, 05 Jan 2015

Renault Captur: Nobody who knows about cars will buy this

Vulture at the Wheel The Renault Captur (Dynamique MediaNav dCi 90, to give it its full name) is the kind of car people who buy them describe as “easy to drive”. These are the same people who when you ask what car is that, they say “a red one”. I once reviewed the IBM PS/1 and was more than a little disappointed. The only thing IBM and I agreed …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jan 2015
Less flash paper produces a longer flame

Want to shoot FIREBALLS from your wrists, SPIDER-MAN style?

The Pyro Fireshooter lets you fulfil your Dragon Ball fantasies where you play manga hero Goku and shoot fireballs from your open palm. For those comic book fans among you, it's basically as if Spider-Man shot fire from his wrists instead of webbing. Youtube Video Aimed at professional magicians, it’s a device which straps to …
Simon Rockman, 03 Jan 2015
Artist's impression of the Bloodhound SSC thundering along. Pic: Bloodhound SSC

1,000mph ROCKET CAR project dogged by beancounters

The hand-to-mouth existence of the incredible Bloodhound Supersonic car has been revealed in a blog post by project director Richard Noble. Noble slams the UK as a nation of bean counters for the difficulty he’s having in raising finance, stating that we have six times as many accountants as doctors and more than the rest of the …
Simon Rockman, 02 Jan 2015
Elon Charges a tesla S

Fill 'er up: 'Leccy car firm Tesla brings back PUMP SERVICE

Elon Musk has posted a tweet confirming Tesla is working on a charger that will save you from having to get out of the car. Btw, we are actually working on a charger that automatically moves out from the wall & connects like a solid metal snake. For realz. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 31, 2014 Given than it still takes 20 …
Simon Rockman, 02 Jan 2015
Dom Joly

30 years ago today, the first commercial UK 'mobile' phone call was made

The first mobile phone calls were made on Cellnet and Vodafone 30 years ago today. The companies we know as Vodafone and O2 today were Racal-Vodafone and Securicor-Cellnet back then, phones were the size of a small suitcase and only did voice. They didn’t even let you assign names to the numbers in the phonebook. The two …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jan 2015

T-Mobile US CEO on wearables: 'Apple Watch is the tipping point'

In a rash of annual predictions, T- Mobile big cheese John Legere claims that “Wearables and phablets will be the big device stories of 2015”. He goes on to look at exercise and fashion products as being in the same space: “I love what Jawbone, Fitbit, Samsung, LG, Microsoft and others are doing in the wearables space. But we …
Simon Rockman, 31 Dec 2014
TalkTalk YouView set top box launch

TalkTalk eyes up Blinkbox for advanced FOURPLAY – report

Budget telco TalkTalk is reportedly pursuing a buyout of video-streaming service Blinkbox from Tesco. In the manoeuvrings to provide mobile, internet, TV and fixed phone services, Blinkbox had looked to be a good move for Britain's biggest supermarket, but while Tesco Mobile has been successful for the retail giant, BlinkBox …
Simon Rockman, 30 Dec 2014
Apple phone payement.

UK banks prepare for Apple Pay 'invasion', look to slap on bonking protection

Analysis Apple's attempt to launch its NFC payment solution in the UK could be thwarted by some financial institutions' concerns over privacy and security issues surrounding Cupertino's "invasion" of the banking industry. The system, which has been developed with the credit card companies, has been tried by two million iPhone 6 users in …
Simon Rockman, 30 Dec 2014
Photo From <a target="_blank" href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-232507384/stock-photo-christmas-holiday-happy-girl-friends-looking-at-something-on-digital-touch-screen-tablet-pc.html?src=9mJhlJ8bDz_0JV9eZNUpyQ-1-34">Shutterstock</a>

UK retailers in TABLET PRICE SLASH BONANZA

Bad news for the big man in red - if Santa left a tablet under your tree he probably paid too much, as a massive glut of fondlesome devices has seen prices tumbling. You can buy tablets for under £30, but for just over that (including shipping) you can get a 7” Quad Core device, and Amazon is now chock-a-block with cheap tablets …
Simon Rockman, 30 Dec 2014
Microsoft LUMIA NOKIA 530

Key to Windows mobe app sales? Er, LOW MEMORY, of course

Microsoft is imploring developers to keep an eye on memory budgets when coding for the Windows Phone. Downloads from the Windows and Windows Phone Store are dominated by version 8.1 (Windows), with 92 per cent of downloads using Metro the update of the new look operating system. Of the Windows phone downloads, 8.1 again …
Simon Rockman, 30 Dec 2014
xiaomi Mi Wi-Fi router

'Apple of China' Xiaomi: Yep, we HAVE just bagged $1.1 BEELLION

Top Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Xiaomi has confirmed reports that it has raised $1.1bn to fund its plans for world domination. In a Facebook Post, president and co-founder Bin Lin said: We just completed the latest round of funding last week, raising US$1.1 billion at valuation of US$45 billion. Investors include All- …
Simon Rockman, 29 Dec 2014
Our artist's impression of how the bus-spotting terrorist bust may have looked

Buses? PAH. Begone with your filthy peasant-wagons

Comment A bus is a fantastically efficient way to move a large number of people. Buses however are not. They are a dreadful system for getting people to work. The difference is not as subtle as that sentence may make it seem. What lies behind it is that when you want to move a large number of people from one place to another all at once …
Simon Rockman, 27 Dec 2014
Gözde Kansu in the offending dress

Mobe not-spots 'landmark deal'? We ain't thick, Javid

The “landmark agreement” between the government and the mobile phone operators has been reported as a coup, something worthy, and a step forward. However, scratch the surface and it’s merely a face-saving exercise. It’s more than a little difficult to work out what the agreement actually says, but we here at the offices of El …
Simon Rockman, 26 Dec 2014

White hats do an NSA, figure out LIVE PHONE TRACKING via protocol vuln

Security vulnerabilities in the SS7 phone-call routing protocol that allow mobile call and text message tracking will be revealed this weekend. Details of SS7 vulnerabilities are due to be revealed to the public for the first time at the Chaos Communication Congress hacker conference in Hamburg on 27 December (schedule here). …
Sold under the Au brand by Japanese network KFFI

SEXY GOLD FireFOXY LADY hits Japan in transparent kimono today

Japan's Au mobile network has launched a transparent-cased Firefox OS phone, in an unusual move for the free software community into an already well-established market. Mozilla's mobile OS is focused on the world's emerging markets, and particularly places such as South America where the operators - led by Telefonica - are keen …
Simon Rockman, 25 Dec 2014