Feeds

Simon Rockman

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
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.
Index image

A spin of roulette in the sporty Ford Fiesta Black

A car is either a head or a heart purchase. If you look at numbers and depreciation, you buy a BMW. Emotion and passion, on the other hand, stereotypically leads to an Alfa Romeo. The new Fiesta Red and Black editions try to be both. It comes it the two colours favoured by roulette, so we took it for a spin. The car we tested …
Simon Rockman, 20 Sep 2014
Apple iPhone 6

Buying memory in an iPhone 6: Like wiping your bottom with dollar bills

So, Apple charges £539 for a 16GB iPhone, £619 for a 64GB device and £699 for a 128GB jeesus! Phone. Which means that if you buy your memory in the form of a more expensive iPhone, you pay something on the order of £1.60 for a gigabyte. Which, in turn, might just be why the Jesus mobe doesn’t come with an SD slot. A little eBay …
Simon Rockman, 19 Sep 2014
A small spectrum

Your chance to WIN the WORLD'S ONLY HANDHELD ZX SPECTRUM

Youtube Video Many of you reading this will have had a Sinclair ZX Spectrum as their first computer [or second, anyway. And it was the first one that really worked. - Ed]. With 16k or 48k RAM and a Z80 processor it was the first mass market colour home computer. Now you can win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary …
Simon Rockman, 19 Sep 2014
Apple iPhone 6

Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets

Weve, the bonk-tastic joint venture between EE, O2 and Vodafone to “create and accelerate the development of mobile marketing and wallet services in the UK”, has abandoned plans to launch a digital wallet. This follow on the heels of having lost £25m, on revenues of £13m in its first year, doing the mobile marketing stuff – as …
Simon Rockman, 16 Sep 2014
Cheap kit kat

Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID

Three Indian manufacturers have signed up to make Android One budget handsets in India and the devices have been launched today. The Karbon Sparkle V is 6399 rupees (£64), runs KitKat 4.4, has a 1,700mAh battery, 1700mAh removable battery, 5MP rear and 2MP front cameras, quad core 1.3GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM with a slot for up to …
Simon Rockman, 15 Sep 2014

Gaming supremo creates maps that turn real world into Sim City

Ian Hetherington, formerly of games companies Realtime Worlds and Psygnosis - yes, the company responsible for '90s legend Lemmings - and has applied games technology to mapping, making your 3D navigation feel like a trip to Sim City. eeGeo's maps can show weather conditions – so you can make it snow – and time of day, with …
Simon Rockman, 10 Sep 2014
Vodafone on Piccadilly

Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US

When Deutsche Telekom bought One 2 One on the 6th August 1999 I sat in the press conference at the Dorchester hotel and heard the company say “We are the Germans. Today Europe, tomorrow the world”. The boss also reprimanded a journalist for switching off a ringing phone. “Answer it, where do you think our money comes from?” …
Simon Rockman, 10 Sep 2014
Seond screen is one thing at home, but watching one game while visiting another is obessive

Ericsson punts superfast picocell... for indoor not-spots

Ericsson is big on little cells. The new RBS 6402 is an indoor cell aimed at giving mobile coverage within what Ericsson calls “smaller buildings and venues”, but you might think of as still being pretty big – around 5,000 square metres. What makes it special is that it’s the first picocell to support carrier aggregation, which …
Simon Rockman, 09 Sep 2014
Photo of the Amazon Fire Phone

O2 breathes life into Amazon Fire: Mobe to hit Blighty in WEEKS

The Amazon Fire phone has failed to set the world alight, so now it seems that Amazon is looking to O2 for help. There were great hopes for the 3D Fire phone when details leaked ahead of the launch but when it transpired that the 3D was only head tracking that enthusiasm evaporated and it failed to find the traction of the …
Simon Rockman, 08 Sep 2014
Checking london streets

Who us, SHARE infrastructure? Networks reject gov proposal

A governmental proposal that would require the UK mobile phone networks to share infrastructure has been shot down in flames. The idea proposed by culture secretary Sajid Javid, which would remove any need for competition between the mobile networks on the basis of coverage, has been rejected as “unworkable” according to a …
Simon Rockman, 08 Sep 2014
Monopoly testing

Vodafone calls for pan-European testing standards

Petek Ergul, head of networks at Vodafone, doesn't just have big plans for better mobile coverage. She claims Voda is actually rolling them out across the UK, with specific team working on “World Class London”. While The Register Monopoly Pub Crawl surveyed 28 locations in London, Ergul wants to see a pan-European standard. She …
Simon Rockman, 08 Sep 2014

3D scanning made easy: Reg man ponders terrifying Xmas pressie

Something I determined some time ago is that the key to 3D printing is the modelling. The new scanner from Fuel3D makes this significantly less painful. Quick and easy scanning using the Fuel 3D The little black square is used for registration While there is an increasing number of desktop scanners what makes the Fuel 3D …
Simon Rockman, 08 Sep 2014
Countach, Gullwing, F40, Miura, 959, 911RS, Zonda, E-Type

Ferraris, Zondas and ... er, a bike with a 500hp V10 under the saddle

There is a joke which runs along the lines of "Sainsburys exists to keep the riff-raff out of Waitrose". In car events, the amazing, upmarket Goodwood festival of Speed is Sainsburys... and Salon Privé is Waitrose. And it isn't just the rival events which filter out those who might sully the place. It's the ticket prices, which …
Simon Rockman, 06 Sep 2014
14.7, that's a lot of pixels

Size matters – how else could Dell squeeze 15 million pixels into this 27" 5K monitor?

When it comes to pixel size, monitor designers boast about who has the smallest. The new Dell UltraSharp 27-inch display has the smallest of the lot. The ultra HD 5K monitor is the world’s first screen with a 5120 x 2880 pixel resolution. That’s 218 pixels per inch. That may sound a way off the LG G3 phone which offers 534 PPI, …
Simon Rockman, 06 Sep 2014
Cellular basestation antenna

Snooptastic US CELL TOWERS pose man-in-the-middle THREAT

A significant number of cell towers in the US are not what they seem to be. In fact, at least according to a recent report, it’s likely they are snooping on your calls. One of the impressive things about GSM is that despite being a standard that was devised nearly a quarter of a century ago, it’s still pretty secure. If you're …
Simon Rockman, 03 Sep 2014
iPhone forensics beaten image

Vodafone pay-by-bonk launch may signal iPhone 6 NFC plans

Vodafone has announced that its SmartPass technology will work with TfL’s systems when the London Underground starts accepting mobile pay-by-bonk on 16 September – but bigger things are planned. The existing SmartPass platform uses a system where a phone apes a contactless credit card. It’s tied to the customers’ card and doesn’ …
Simon Rockman, 02 Sep 2014
Cellular antenna. Source: Vxla/Flickr

Ericssson-LG jumps on South Korean cloud to make 5G rain

Ericsson-LG – a joint venture company between the two communications giants – has jumped into bed with Korean telco SKT to build software to control 5G networks. Of course no one really knows what 5G is yet, but we do know that it will have to handle an awful lot of data and so the software will have to live on servers. This is …
Simon Rockman, 02 Sep 2014
A watch with hands

Chumps stump up $1 MEELLLION for watch that doesn't exist

An Indiegogo project to build a watch that projects its display onto your hand has blown the doors off its target by raising a million dollars in funding – even though no functional device has yet been built. The Ritot watch uses a DLP matrix in a wristband to project an image on to the back of the wearer's hand. In addition to …
Simon Rockman, 01 Sep 2014

Nokia: Read these Maps, Samsung – we're HERE for the Gear

For Nokia, getting Samsung – the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer – to use its HERE Maps is a huge win. Unfortunately it’s not Samsung throwing Google Maps out of its smartphones but rather a realisation that Google isn’t going to rush to port maps to Samsung's home-grown operating system, Tizen. The “HERE for Gear” sees …
Simon Rockman, 29 Aug 2014
CSR10X0 Starter Development Kit

Brit chip biz CSR rebuffs US takeover bid from Microchip Technologies

Fabless Bluetooth chip firm CSR, the second biggest chip design company in Cambridge, has rebuffed a takeover bid by customer and partner Microchip Technology. The failed bid has trigged another round of CSR thinking about putting itself up for sale, and given its history of a roller-coaster share price, now might be a very good …
Simon Rockman, 29 Aug 2014
Chesterfield’s twisted spire: Local Store Manager, Adam Osowski, with fellow EE employee

EE plonks 4G in UK Prime Minister's backyard

While EE didn’t win our Monopoly board coverage survey, the formerly fruity network did prove to be top dog for data speeds – and that’s down to having more spectrum than its rivals. Chesterfield’s twisted spire: Local Store Manager, Adam Osowski, with fellow EE employee Chesterfield local store manager Adam Osowski asks a …
Simon Rockman, 28 Aug 2014
Sacnned and printed in 3d skull

Finally, a practical use for 3D printing: Helping surgeons rehearse

A mix of 3D printing, medical imaging and software which joins the two together is helping reduce the length of time taken to complete certain complex operations. Today, 12 National Health Service (NHS) hospitals are supported in the validation of patient surgery prior to an operation with models made by Stratasys 3D printers …
Simon Rockman, 27 Aug 2014
LG re-invents the pen thing

LG pokes G3 Stylus at Samsung's Galaxy Note

The mobile phone company once known as "Lucky Goldstar" has taken a trip back into the past and will launch a phablet with a stylus at German phonefest IFA. The G3 Stylus may have the same name as the wonderful G3 phone, but despite having a similarly sized screen at 5.5 inches, it’s a significantly lower specification. Notably …
Simon Rockman, 26 Aug 2014
A fake tattoo on the leg of Canberra Raiders footballer Sandor Earl, sent by Huawei as an April Fool

Huawei: 'Tizen has no chance', Windows Phone is 'difficult'... it's Android all the way

Richard Yu, the head of Huawei's consumer business group, has said that he sees an Android future for the company. The Chinese company has huge global ambitions to capitalise on its standing as a major infrastructure supplier and to become a consumer brand and is particularly looking to The Middle East and Africa. It’s a policy …
Simon Rockman, 26 Aug 2014
Monopoly testing

You, El Reg and a doctor walk into a Monopoly Pubcrawl chinwag

You've no doubt been enjoying El Reg's scintillating coverage of our magnificent 3G/4G data Monopoly pub crawl, so now's your chance to quiz GWS chief Dr Paul Carter on the whole shebang. On Friday 29 August, we held a live chat with the man himself, to explain the decisions that were made in testing and to look at some of the …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2014
Ford Mondeo has an LED headlight

Bright lights, affordable motor: Ford puts LED headlights onto Mondeo

Ford has announced its first car with dynamic LED headlights, which apparently provide as much light as Xenon bulbs – and last for the lifetime of the vehicle. Because LEDs are very much smaller than traditional bulbs, they can affect the whole design of the front end of a car. Ford is trumpeting the freedom it gives them in …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2014

The Register Monopoly Pubcrawl Mobile Map: VODAFONE VICTOR in LONDON

Get a load of our fabtabulous interactive mobile Monopoly map - now complete with 3G/4G data results - right here If you think “data” is what you do with your girlfriend then move on, probably to another website: there is nothing to see here. But if you think mobile data in London is interesting you need to read this. Jasper …
Simon Rockman, 23 Aug 2014
Cheap LG androids

LG takes on Nokia X, Moto G: These are the cheapie 'droids you've been looking for

Nokia's X and Motorola's G now have two new rivals to compete for the reals, pesos and quetzals as LG targets emerging markets with landfill Androids. The New LG L Fino and L Bello, to be launched at IFA in Berlin, will go on sale in South America first but will also be launched in Europe, Asia, and CIS soon after. The budget 3G …
Simon Rockman, 22 Aug 2014

The Register Monopoly Pubcrawl Mobile Map: VODAFONE WINS VOICE

Check out the Register's interactive mobile coverage Monopoly map (voice only for now) right here. While all the sexy stuff these days in mobile phones is web, apps and tweeting, voice calls are still the major thing people use mobile phones for. The Register and mobile network survey experts GWS took to the London streets to …
Simon Rockman, 22 Aug 2014
Testing at Marble Arch

Roll up for El Reg's 3G/4G MONOPOLY DATA PUB CRAWL

In January I was in the pub with Richard, an old school friend I hadn’t seen for 30 years and whom I was keen to impress. Then he asked one of those seemingly simple questions. “Simon,” he said. “You’ll know which 4G network I should be on”. Just 10 words but a whole heap of trouble. And like any good pub conversation, it led to …
Simon Rockman, 21 Aug 2014
Fight Night Champion

EE: STILL Blighty's best mobe network, says 'Frappucino' Moore

EE is still the best mobile network in the UK, but the others are catching up and Three is the one to watch. This is the conclusion of the latest report from RootMetrics the mobile survey company which regularly looks at UK mobile coverage and is headed by Bill ‘Frappuccino’ Moore. The previous survey descended into a war of …
Simon Rockman, 19 Aug 2014

Top Gun display for your CAR: Heads-up fighter pilot tech

Car-display manufacturer Navdy has refuted claims that its new device is dangerous, saying there are plenty of precedents for the technology. Navdy connects a mobile phone to a small projector and provides a “pilot's eye” heads-up display, using a transparent screen. This avoids the issues of multiple images which you get if you …
Simon Rockman, 16 Aug 2014
Tesco Hudl

Giving your old Tesco Hudl to Auntie June? READ THIS FIRST

UK supermarket Tesco’s Hudl tablet will offer up data from past users – even if it’s been factory reset. The Register spoke to Ken Munro from security firm Pen Test Partners, who said he'd bought 17 Hudls and AllWinner tablets from eBay and found that not only does the reset process not wipe all the data, it’s possible to …
Simon Rockman, 15 Aug 2014

UK mobile coverage is BETTER than EVER, networks tell Ofcom

All of Blighty's mobile phone networks are providing great coverage and you can make a successful voice call nearly 100 per cent of the time. And the source of this wonderful news? Why, it's … er, the mobile phone networks themselves. Oh. The latest report (PDF) from telecoms regulator Ofcom shows that all the mobile phone …
Simon Rockman, 13 Aug 2014

Tech city types developing 'Google Glass for the blind' app

A new app and service aimed at people with sight impairments is being cooked up on Silicon Roundabout. The service, called Eyebridge, is being put together by Guy Curlewis and Andrew Law, who believe that a smartphone camera linked to a call centre could be of use to blind and poorly sighted people. Versions of Eyebridge are …
Simon Rockman, 12 Aug 2014
3 In Hong Kong has launched a sailfish phone

Three floats Jolla in Hong Kong: Says Sailfish is '3rd option'

Dented Linux mobile OS Sailfish has taken a new route to market as Three in Hong Kong prepares to start selling the smartphone-that-could-have-been from Jolla. The Linux-based OS has had a tortuous history. The open source OS, based on the MeeGo operating system, was first developed, and then dropped, by Nokia. Since then it has …
Simon Rockman, 12 Aug 2014
Woman throttling man

Don't call it throttling: Ericsson 'priority' tech gives users their own slice of spectrum

Ericsson and SoftBank in Japan have demonstrated a system which lets the network control not just how much bandwidth you have but how much spectrum each user gets to play with. Throttling heavy users and giving more capacity to those on higher tariffs usually takes place at an IP level, but now Ericsson and SoftBank have shown …
Simon Rockman, 12 Aug 2014
Dell Chromebook 11

Chromebooks to break out of US schools: Netbook 2.0 comeback not just for children

It may be a niche, but the market for Chromebooks will grow, according to research company Gartner. The analyst has predicted 5.2 million of the Google OS-powered laptops will be sold this year. Not only that, but the number-crunchers also reckon sales will nearly triple by 2017. That growth will come from Chromebooks breaking …
Simon Rockman, 11 Aug 2014
Spam

Ancient pager tech SMS: It works, it's fab, but wow, get a load of that incoming SPAM

The infrastructure for text messaging is creaking. Not only does it need to be fixed, but it seems mobile operators don’t understand enough about their own systems to do it themselves. This is according to Louise O'Sullivan, CEO of mobile solutions firm Anam Technologies. She maintains that the problem that needs fixing lies in …
Simon Rockman, 11 Aug 2014
GCHQ as seen on Google Earth

O2 vs Vodafone: Mobe firms grab for GCHQ, gov.uk security badge

Both Vodafone and O2 are claiming to be the best mobile phone network for people, particularly government people, who are worried about security. O2 is crowing about achieving the secure and government-approved network certification known as CAS(T), which stands for CESG Assured Service (Telecommunications), O2 being the first …
Simon Rockman, 11 Aug 2014

Wait, an actual QR code use case? TGI Friday's builds techno-restaurant

The good burghers of TGI Friday’s have cooked up a plan to get you in and out of their eateries faster: using mobile tech. The restaurant's Manchester Piccadilly Station branch is the first Fast Track TGI Friday's, which aims to serve you within ten minutes and help you pay quickly and leave by using your mobile phone. This is …
Simon Rockman, 08 Aug 2014
Running lights and headlights in one unit

Stalwart hatchback gets a plug-in: Volkswagen e-Golf

Of all the electric cars I've driven, the latest eco-friendly VW Golf is the one that feels most like a normal auto – that just so happens to be silent and has a stack of batteries where the spare wheel would go. Volkswagen e-Golf Goodbye GTI, hello Volkswagen e-Golf While the vast majority of electric cars make a feature of …
Simon Rockman, 08 Aug 2014
cloud

BT offers vanilla mobile deal to biz bods

The latest deal for small businesses from BT is part of its move to become a mobile phone network again. The deal from BT Business includes a bundle of resold EE airtime and Wi-Fi – with or without hardware. The hardware bit includes a range of Android and Windows Phones and Apple, Android and Windows tablets. It's also offering …
Simon Rockman, 05 Aug 2014
US soldiers fire a Javelin missile. Credit: US Army

Google pulls Gaza games from Play store

Google has removed the games Bomb Gaza and Gaza Assault: Code Red from its Play app store. The games tasked players with destroying Hamas combatants and rockets without killing civilians, and have been criticised as glorifying violence. Unlike Apple, which pre-approves all games on iTunes, Google does not have a rigorous …
Simon Rockman, 05 Aug 2014

Operators get the FEAR as Ofcom proposes 275% hike in mobile spectrum fees

Ofcom has “rethought” the fees that UK mobile networks pay for their 900MHz and 1800MHz spectrum, based on the industry's reaction to its latest proposal. Previously Ofcom decided to hike the annual fee that the networks pay for access to spectrum from £65m to £309m – a relative rise of 375 per cent. That’s now been modified to …
Simon Rockman, 01 Aug 2014
Fiat Panda Cross

Fiat Panda Cross: 'Interesting-looking' Multipla spawn hits UK

The new FIAT Panda Cross comes to the UK in September, just in time for a “64” numberplate, and is looking to add a bit of fashion pizazz to the utilitarian nature of the original Panda 4x4. Fiat's Panda Cross: out in the wild but not on sale until September Everyone agrees on the looks. They are “interesting” and “brave”. …
Simon Rockman, 01 Aug 2014

Speak your brains on SIGNAL-FREE mobile comms

Our previous article about goTenna, a new device which allows mobile phones to communicate without signal, stirred up a lot of interest from readers and fellow journalists. goTenna CEO Daniela Perdomo and her brother, CTO Jorge Perdomo, held a live chat on El Reg this Friday, 1 August, at 3pm BST. Daniela Perdomo has worked in …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jul 2014
Bletchley Park Manor House, photo: Gavin Clarke

Trying to sell your house? It'd better have KILLER mobile coverage

Young property buyers see mobile coverage as a more important when it comes to choosing a location – rating it as more important than proximity to schools and transport or local crime rates, says a report commissioned by mobile survey company RootMetrics. It’s long been known that the main reason people change mobile networks is …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jul 2014

Apple and Samsung UNDER THREAT from local brands – study

A recent study by Netbiscuits has seen growth in locally made devices. While Samsung and Apple dominate globally – LG and HTC get something of a look-in, which is more than Sony, Nokia or Motorola manage – there is an interesting underlying trend of consumers becoming patriotic in their buying habits. The strength of Xiaomi is …
Simon Rockman, 30 Jul 2014

Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London

From 16 September you will be able to pay for your journey on the London Underground with your pay-by-bonk contactless card or NFC-enabled phone. This won’t come as a surprise to anyone who uses the London Underground regularly and will have heard the announcements (and seen the posters) warning people to keep their Oyster and …
Simon Rockman, 25 Jul 2014