Archive for the ‘Tech Disappointments’ Category

Scandal Uncovered: Why U.S. Galaxy S Android Devices Are Stuck At Android 2.1.

If you’re like most of the U.S. population currently rockin’ a Samsung Galaxy S device, you’re no doubt deep in thought about why your device is still dragging along with Android 2.1. Unfortunately thus far, neither Samsung or the carriers distributing Galaxy S devices are saying anything on the matter. However, at this point in the game it is obvious the move is a calculated and planned move by Samsung (and possibly others) as numerous rooted ROMs have shown Galaxy S devices running Android 2.2 just fine. But wonder around aimlessly we have to do no more. “The Samsung Secret” just spilled a bunch of background information over at XDA about how Samsung is classifying Android 2.2 as a “feature upgrade” and requiring a per device upgrade fee for the privilege. Naturally, the carriers aren’t too happy to pay for an open source operating system update many times over. And in an act of defiance and protest, they’ve seemingly come together and refused to pay Samsung’s upgrade fees in hopes that Samsung will drop the practice.

It’s certainly alarming even if it wasn’t all that surprising. Though it further backs my opinion of Samsung (in the mobile smartphone arena at least) — they care little for their customers and only about their bottom end. With that said, I will never buy a Samsung smartphone as long as they employ this methodology for firmware/OS updates. Perhaps if enough end users start doing the same, some real change can happen. Full account after the jump…
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#CES2011 — AT&T’s Performance at CES: Abysmal.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who’s had to deal with AT&T over the last 3-4 years, but their performance at CES — the largest consumer electronics show in the world…a place in which you’d think they’d have some extra capacity on hand — was atrocious. I had to ask to borrow someone else’s phone numerous times to place a simple phone call. Texts: nope. Data of any sort: you must be joking.

It is now a full three and a half years after the first generation iPhone was released and two and a half years since the iPhone 3G’s release. But even still, AT&T”s performance in heavily populated cities is god-awful. You’d think they would have extra network trucks on hand. (If they were there, I didn’t see them, and they failed miserably regardless.) And now as we close in on the week of the Verizon iPhone announcement, AT&T’s PR boss, Larry Solomon, has begun criticizing Verizon’s version of the iPhone saying he’s “not sure if iPhone customers are ready for life in the slow lane” — highlighting HSPA+’s speed advantage over CDMA.

What Mr. Solomon fails to highlight however, is that when it comes down to it, his company has continually failed me, you (assuming you’re using AT&T) and countless other millions of Americans who have had to deal with AT&T’s disgusting track record. With that said, AT&T is the last person who should be criticizing anyone over their cellular performance. Because as I experienced this week, AT&T was hands town the WORST carrier at CES.

Issue a press release on that…

Verizon Simplifying Plans, Sticking it to Cusomter in 2011.

It appears that Verizon’s anti-consumer policies are once again pushing full steam ahead. The leaked slide above details two very disheartening changes to Big Red’s network. First and foremost, early upgrades are out. Customers will now have to wait until after month 20 of their contract if they want any type of discount with their new upgrade. Second, the “New Every Two” deal that gave Verizon users a steep discount off of new purchases when renewing an expired two-year contract are effectively dead as well. It’s worth noting that in all cases highlighted, customers on one-year contracts are not affected.

I understand you have to pay the bills, but these changes are just ridiculous. Combine the above with the new, higher ETF’s and you have a a recipe for disaster. At this point, Verizon is becoming less and less relevant even if they do have super speedy LTE. And here we thought Verizon was getting better with this whole pro-consumer thing…

Look for the changes to go live by January 16th.
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Carriers Seeking to Charge by Service? Can Even Detect Encrypted Services?

The slide above you is…ridiculous. It’s part of a webinar put on by two companies (Allot Communications and Openet) who supply AT&T, Verizon, and Vodafone with services. What you’re looking at is the beginning of the destruction of life as we know it should it ever be implemented by wireless carriers. The service as outlined above apparently can detect what you’re doing with your data connection and charge accordingly. Browsing a normal web page might cost you $0.01 per page, yet flipping over to Facebook’s mobile app would instantly skyrocket the charge up to $0.30 per page. That’s not right, nor should it ever be allowed. But we’re open-minded here at Gadgetsteria. Perhaps the quote from the webinar will appease us…

[We use] a number of different methods to accurately identify the application — methods like heuristic analysis, behavioral and historical analysis, deep packet inspection, and a number of other techniques. What’s key is that we have the best application identification available on the market, which means that even applications that are encrypted or use other methods to evade detection will be correctly identified and classified… We essentially feed this real-time information about traffic and application usage into the policy and charging system. Each subscriber has a particular service plan that they sign up for, and they’re as generic or as personalized as the operator wants.

Nope. Still sounds like the apocalypse to us. Not to mention, being able to scan and “determine” even encrypted services sounds like a security nightmare to us. Out of all the useless agencies we have needlessly policing people in this country, I’m sure we’ve got at least one or two that would have a field day with such a service.

**Note to carriers: Implement any form of this crap and I’m gone as are millions of other users…

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Microsoft: “The Xbox 360 Faceplates Failed”. #fail #microsoft

In regards to massive engineering failures, the first generation Xbox 360 was one of the staple best. A poorly designed PCB and internal cooling system caused critical internal components to eventually wriggle apart and displaying the dreaded RRoD (Red Rings of Death) error. Over the last 5 years, the RRoD death has become as much of a sign of failure as it has the butt of countless jokes. Though theres one other big Xbox 360 failure that doesn’t get nearly the same amount of attention — customizable faceplates.

According to Microsoft’s Albert Penello in an interview with Official Xbox Magazine, customizable faceplates were “what everyone wanted to do”. Apparently not. Sales we never anything to write home about. With the recent Xbox 360 refrsh, the plates were discontinued entirely, leaving the scores of custom Xbox 360 faceplates to collect dust on retail shelves and forever live in the bargain bin at your local walmart checkout lane.

But one, rare occurrence where Microsoft admits defeat.

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Windows Phone 7 Requires “Permanent” SD Cards. No Longer Able to Install in Other Devices or Reformat. #wp7

We’ve already seen several instances of new Samsung Focus owners going against Microsoft’s best wishes and voiding their warranties by installing their own microSD cards. Now, voiding a warranty by replacing an SD card sounds ridiculous. (That’s because it is.) But voided warranties be damned, people want more storage. And that lust for more is starting to highlight some very big problems with Windows Phone 7, especially pertaining to external storage.

We already know Microsoft’s stance — that we wait for “Certified” SD cards to be released before cramming them into our WP7 devices. However, it’s not a matter of SD Classes as one would think. Engadget has already managed to fry an SD card of their own after attempting a swap in their Samsung Focus. Even more scary however, is the verbiage found in documentation on Samsung’s website:

A microSD card inserted into a Windows Phone 7 device and integrated into the device’s file system is intended to be a permanent modification to the device. Once a microSD card has been integrated into a Windows Phone 7 device’s file system, it will no longer be readable or writable on any other devices such as computers, cameras, printers, and so on. This includes an inability to format the microSD card for use in these devices. Improper use (including inserting or removing) of microSD cards on Windows Phone 7 devices may result in one or more of the following…

Clearly, Microsoft and/or Samsung dropped the ball big time. Under no circumstances should any OS or phone change an SD card so much that it is rendered useless (read: no more read/write ability) on all other gadgets/computers so much so that you can’t even reformat it.

Any other WP7/Samsung Focus owners care to chime in?
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Settle The Hell Down: GameStop Customer Shot and Killed During Armed Robbery.

The next time you walk into a GameStop store, double check and make sure it’s not being robbed at that particular point in time. Unfortunately for one Mr. Adrian Tyrone Snow, he picked the worst of times to go game shopping. As he walked through the door, the two armed robbers whom already tied up the store employees proceeded to tie up Mr. Snow, whom went on to resist the robbers’ advances. Sadly, the robbers shot Mr. Snow twice. He later died at the hospital from his wounds.

The pair of suspects — Giovannte Maddox and Demarkus Williams — are believed to be the same suspects that robbed several other surrounding GameStop stores in recent days. Unfortunately for Mr. Snow, the local law enforcement didn’t catch them soon enough.

Now is a good time to remind everyone that if you’re feeling violent, put the game down, take a walk, take a nap — something.
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Jammie Thomas Loses Another Battle with the RIAA.

Jammie Thomas, the single mother of 4 who’s more or less become the poster child for filesharing in the 2000′s has lost yet another case. That makes (3) times now that a jury has stood with a straight face and awarded a broken, backwards thinking company ridiculously high damages.

Jammie Thomas’ latest bill for sharing a mere 24 songs comes in at $1.5 million. Her last case totaled $1.92 million and her first was the lowest of them all at $222,000. Honestly, in all three cases the punishment is so completely disproportionate to the crime it’s repulsive to think about. Yes, she stole music. But is it really worth $1 million+? Absolutely not. Continue on…
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Galaxy Tab to Have Skype Artificially Limited to WiFi.

With as much as carriers claim to be here “for the people” and embracing all kinds of new, innovative technologies, they sure do a lot to hamper progress. Take for example the rather disappointing revelation that the upcoming Galaxy Tab will be limited to WiFI-only calls over Skype when used on Verizon’s network. Such a move is rather AT&T-like, usually signaling a desperate attempt to keep an already weak network from crashing to its knees.

But Verizon is well prepared for the onslaught of data-hungry devices — or so they say. For a device costing $599 contract-free, the fact that end users will be further limited by artificial nannies is a sad state of affairs.

Though the few folks who would really ream Verizon’s 3G network with Skype and other VoIP services over 3G will be some of the first to root the device, hack the functionality onto it themselves, and continue on their merry way with or without Verizon’s blessing.

Though I complain, this little hinderance is unlikely to tarnish Verizon or the Tab much, if at all. Because in the end, the Tab is well built device with plenty of potential.

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