What else is there to say? Well, the Z2 Tablet's infrared transmitter has been dispensed with but you still get an NFC chip and the keyboard has one too, making pairing the dock and tablet a zero-fuss operation. The Bluetooth radio has been bumped from 4.0 to 4.1 and there’s an FM radio as well. The GPS now supports Beidou as well as A-GPS and GLONASS. Oh, and the SIM slot now takes a nano rather than micro card.If you don’t baulk at the price, the Z4 Tablet is the pick of the Android tablet crop at the moment, at least as far as full-sized, 10-inch fondleslabs go.The slim profile and bantam weight are obviously appealing features, as is the 4G connectivity and rather impressive keyboard dock. The powerful chipset, visually impressive screen, strong battery life and good-for-a-tablet cameras are the icing on a pretty darned fine Android cake. Britain’s first home-brewed open source-based DAB multiplex has gone live this morning. Six services will be operating on the new mux in Brighton for nine months.
It’s less than three years since Small Scale DAB – which was conceived in a shed and generates its signal using low cost Raspberry Pi computers – was first tested, and then permitted a three month trial by Ofcom.Small Scale DAB is a low-power, open source system suitable for local transmissions to urban areas or sites. It uses a full open source stack, from the base OS (Linux) through MP2 encoding, up to multiplexing and modulation.It obviates the need for expensive cavity filters, and, of course, allows commercial or community radio to bypass the costly Arqiva multiplex.The idea was hatched by an Ofcom senior engineer and Brighton resident Rashid Mustapha in his own time.But it won backing from Daniel Nathan, chairman of Brighton station Juice 107.2, who was fed up with being obliged to pay for DAB transmissions – which is mandatory if a station wants to keep its FM licence – when there were so few listeners.
In 2008, Nathan said digital listenership was so low that the industry should move everyone to IP, skipping the DAB switchover altogether.“We were enthusiastic about the possibilities in the first place because we believed it would disrupt the status quo and highlight the outrageous cost of doing DAB the traditional way,” said Nathan.“When I first suggested its use at a radio industry digital stakeholders meeting, the idea was roundly dismissed. I was told: ‘We've looked at software-based DAB, but it’s too unstable and will never work’,” he added.However, both DCMS and Ofcom were positive about allowing the experiment – and so here we are.“The interesting thing about this approach is that unlike traditional DAB, it’s a low-cost point of entry for new broadcasters with the space to experiment and innovate – and that this is not and will never be a viable replacement technology,” Nathan cautions.“Once you wade through the digital radio snake oil, DAB is still a bit rubbish. Perhaps it’s time to abandon the idea of DAB as the universal broadcast solution for radio," added Nathan. "At a new democratic price point, the Small Scale trial suggests that it really is time to reinvent DAB as a low barrier incremental radio platform."
Let's have a look at the old-school DAB service encoders, and their Small Scale DAB equivalents:
The original 2012 test rig was a Lenovo N500 laptop running Debian Linux – but from the pictures of the mux, you can see it’s running even-lower processing power Raspberry Pis.Here’s the OFCOM technical study (PDF) into Small Scale DAB from 2013, which has a reader-friendly explanation of how it works, and what's new and different about it. You think I’m joking. Check out the following clip from the programme, in which Beats headphones are being sported by those hippest of Sixties trend-setters, Bleep and Booster.[Disclosure: I bought myself a pair of Beats in-ear phones recently in a sale and they’re OK. I am currently trying to destroy them with anti-culture by playing only early-1970s Tangerine Dream and Mike Oldfield on them. I like to think Dr Dre would be appalled.]
However, this theory doesn’t wash either: Microsoft already dominates the operating system market, most especially in the home, and Windows 10 does not stake out any new claims in that regard. Nor is Microsoft bludgeoning competitors out of the market. Giving Windows 10 away for free will not stop anybody – literally, not a single person – from switching to open source.The daftest theory I’ve heard is that offering Windows 10 for free will encourage users to move away from older versions of Windows because Microsoft wants to stop supporting them. How does that work, then? It strikes me that 99% of all support calls taken by Microsoft at the moment will be from users having trouble with Windows 10. It would surely be in Microsoft’s own interest to dissuade users from upgrading at all, and support Windows 7 until the end of time.A more compelling argument is that free software lulls users into comfort, then complacency, then reliance. Then, once you’re hooked and happy, an unexpected invoice gets slammed in your face.There was an urban myth in the 1990s that Microsoft tacitly approved the uncontrolled piracy of Word, early versions of which under Windows and Mac alike did not seem terribly interested in asking for a serial number.
Logic would suggest that Microsoft was a chump for permitting this to happen for years with only the occasional squeak of protest. Yet what actually happened was that everyone at work, at home and in university ended up using the same hokey copy of MS Word that they’d “copied off a mate”. This in turn put pressure on the likes of DisplayWrite, WordPerfect and that god-awful word processor from Lotus to differentiate themselves from Microsoft’s inadvertent freebie.Foolishly, what they did was to try and make themselves appear good value for money by adding more features. They could have tried to make the software faster or easier to use, but no, they all opted for the pizza approach: pile it high with toppings that no-one asked for, cram the lot into your face and poke it down with the handle of a wooden spoon.Don’t blame Microsoft: WordPerfect and its ilk committed slow-motion suicide. Essentially, they turned themselves into bloatware and died as a natural consequence of morbid obesity. Only then did Microsoft start getting serious about licensing. It probably wasn’t too late to go back or look elsewhere, but by then we were hooked. Word .doc files had become “a standard” and for that privilege, it was time to start paying.
So yay for free software! But it comes with a simple health warning: Microsoft is spreading the love in order to bite us all on the arse later on. Rest assured, the company will find a way to get something from all this nothing. Pic For the first time, astronomers have detected lithium spread across space at high speed by an exploding star. The eggheads hope this discovery will solve one of the chemical riddles of the universe.Using telescopes in Chile, an Italian team focused on Nova Centauri 2013, a nova whose light reached Earth two years ago. It is described as the brightest nova so far this century: it was easily visible to the naked eye on our planet.The astronomers spotted lithium streaming away from the explosion at two million kilometres per hour (1.24 million MPH).The creation of lithium in supernovae and novae has been predicted for more than 25 years, but never observed until now."It is very exciting," said team leader Luca Izzo, from the Sapienza University of Rome, "to find something that was predicted before I was born, and then first observed on my birthday in 2013!"It's thought that lithium (and other chemical elements) were formed in the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago. Older stars don't contain very much lithium, while younger stars stash up to ten times as much of the light metal, which has left some astroboffins puzzled.
It was thought that perhaps younger stars absorb their lithium from supernovae and novae. The latest observation, published in detail in Astrophysical Journal Letters this month, is significant because it lends weight to that theory."It is a very important step forward," said Massimo Della Valle, who cowrote the published paper on the findings. "If we imagine the history of the chemical evolution of the Milky Way as a big jigsaw, then lithium from novae was one of the most important and puzzling missing pieces. In addition, any model of the Big Bang can be questioned until the lithium conundrum is understood."The amount of lithium detected coming out of Nova Centauri 2013 is relatively small: it is estimated to be less than a billionth of the mass of our Sun (whose mass is just under 2,000 billion billion billion kilograms.)So, the next time you curse your failing laptop battery, don't forget to ponder where exactly those lithium ions came from – huge explosions billions of miles away, probably.
Sysadmin Blog Friday, July 31 is 2015's Systems Administrator Appreciation Day, better known as Sysadmin Day. It is a day during which sysadmins feel sad that nobody remembers there is a day dedicated to them, and they go on being as unappreciated as every other day of the year. The exception being vendors and other sysadmins; they remember to care.Marketing loves Sysadmin Day. Articles from previous years show an ever increasing number of contests, discounts, and attempts at "customer engagement." This year is no different for vendors: they're out in force.There is an uptick, however, in community-organized events. It seems that sysadmins are emerging from their cave-like abodes, venturing out underneath that great big ball of photon-spewing fusion in the sky, and actually socializing with other sysadmins in pubs all around the world.As always, my Google-fu is imperfect, and not everyone alerts El Reg about their sysadmin day plans. The following rundown of contests and community get-togethers is not remotely a comprehensive list, and I do hope that events I miss will get added to in the comments section of this article.
Perhaps the most intriguing Sysadmin Day-related bit of marketing faff is only tangentially related to Sysadmin Day at all, but there is some pretty sexy hardware on offer. Catalogic is doing a Sysadmin Day webinar all about the copy data management market in which it operates.So far, so boring, why am I bothering you with this pointless marketing tat when you can just read the articles in the hyperlinks? Well, a little birdie told me that the back quarter of the Catalogic webinar would be used to discuss the details of their VMworld home lab contest. More to the point, this home lab isn't going to be some crappy Intel NUCs and a switch.The home lab "will include a free license for ECX and a NetApp box so the lucky winner can experience for himself/herself the power of SW-defined copy data management for VMworld." Details on what, if any, compute servers will be included are sketchy at this point, but any home lab serious enough to include a NetApp box has my interest piqued. Sysadmin Day 2015 will mark the start of a contest that ends quite well for some lucky nerd.
2015 is the first year in I can't remember how long that ThinkGeek doesn't seem to be celebrating Sysadmin Day. Perhaps their marketing people are just slow this year, or perhaps this is part of ThinkGeek's ongoing strategy of trying to appeal to the mainstream and largely abandoning its "geek" base.If you were hoping to get your ThinkGeek fix on for the year, you needn't fear: Netwrix is here. $25 gift certs are the prize for the best "what stresses you out" short form. Terms and conditions aren't posted, so I have no idea who is allowed to participate.Manage Engine has fully embraced Sysadmin Day. There is the usual contest, this time based around sending e-cards to your sysadmins. 20 people will be picked from among the senders to receive $20 gift cards for Amazon. More intriguingly, ManageEngine has put together a fun picture-thingie on "sysadmin myths," seemingly sourced from a survey of their community members. The contest is open to everyone unless you live in a country that the US government doesn't like.Spiceworks is running a 12 days of sysadmas that hasn't seen as much engagement from the community as past years, but is fun nonetheless. There are sponsors listed, but what events or prizes they might be sponsoring isn't immediately evident.