Thurrott Daily: January 7

Thurrott Daily: January 7

Another super-busy day. But here are some tidbits from around the web.

1/7/2016 12:33:50 PM

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Are smart phones a cancer risk?

Maybe you heard the one about how all the studies “prove” that smart phone radiation is not dangerous. Now listen to the one where those same studies don’t actually anything.

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published new guidelines 18 months ago regarding the radiation risk from cellphones, it used unusually bold language on the topic for the American health agency: “We recommend caution in cellphone use.” [But] within weeks, C.D.C. reversed course. It no longer recommended caution, and deleted a passage specifically addressing potential risks for children.

Mainstream scientific consensus holds that there is little to no evidence that cellphone signals raise the risk of brain cancer or other health problems; rather, behaviors like texting while driving are seen as the real health concerns. Nevertheless, more than 500 pages of internal records obtained by The New York Times, along with interviews with former agency officials, reveal a debate and some disagreement among scientists and health agencies about what guidance to give as the use of mobile devices skyrockets.

The study cited most often is Interphone, a multination review published by the I.A.R.C. in 2010. CTIA, in a statement, noted that Interphone found “over all, no increase in risk.” But Interphone did find “some indications of an increased risk of glioma,” a type of brain tumor, among the heaviest 10 percent of cellphone users, though “the researchers concluded that biases and errors limit the strength of these conclusions and prevent a causal interpretation.”

Dr. Elisabeth Cardis, Interphone’s principal investigator, said in an interview, “I can’t say for sure there’s an effect, but I can’t say for sure there’s no effect.”

1/7/2016 12:15:05 PM

The Windows 10 FUD just will not die

If you saw me on Twitter this morning, you may have seen me doing something unusual: Calling out an asshole for continually spreading the same anti-Windows 10 bullshit over and over again. I’ve been decrying this nonsense for many, many months—see here, here,here and here for some obvious examples—but I’m not alone in wanting to get the truth out there and end the ignorance. Today, Ed Bott has gone after exactly the same goonerism.

The usual suspects are trying to turn routine diagnostic information into another manufactured privacy controversy over Windows 10. Don’t fall for it.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not “spying.” It’s analytics. That distinction is not semantic. It is essential to understanding how software is developed in the modern, cloud-connected world. It has also been fully, even exhaustively disclosed.

Folks, this this is simple. When it comes to Microsoft, we have plenty of real problems to complain about—how aggressively it is pushing the Windows 10 upgrade on Windows 7/8.x users, the failed Windows phone strategy, and Surface Book’s reliability issues, for example. So we don’t need to make anything up. These privacy concerns with Windows 10 are nothing but ignorance. As I—and Ed—have been saying for months.

Did HP just give us a Falcon phone teaser?

Microsoft Insider spots a neat little Easter Egg in an HP press photo from CES (translated):

Today we were showed what could be the first image of the return of HP mobile telephony. Is this the HP Falcon?

Here’s an edited version of the photo:


Facebook Messenger has 800 million users

A Facebook blog post reveals that Facebook Messenger—which was spun out of the main Facebook mobile app in a power grab—now has over 800 million users.

Toward the end of 2015, we crossed the milestone of 800 million people using Messenger each month. It’s a good number, but we believe we have so much more opportunity ahead of us, and these are still the early days of Messenger.

Facebook of course positions its separation of Messenger as a “significant improvements to how [it] enables people to communicate.” What it really is, of course, is the modern version of what Microsoft did with IE in Windows: Use your existing huge audience to capture a new market. (Facebook and Facebook Messenger are the number 1 and 2 app on iOS, respectively.)

Debate rages over Oculus VR pricing

So the Oculus Rift virtual reality gaming headset will cost $599 when it ships later this year. (Much later, if you haven’t already preordered it.) And some people are really upset by the pricing.

It doesn’t help that you will almost certainly need a new PC to use Oculus Rift, or at the very least a new video card: The device requires at least an Intel i5-4590 processor, 8 GB of RAM, NVIDIA GTX 970/AMD R9 290 graphics with HDMI 3.1 out, and 3 USB 3.0 ports and 1 USB 2.0 port. So if you’re buying new, you’re looking at $999 or more just for the box. As you can see, my desktop PC (which has an older i7 processor and 16 GB of RAM) does not make the cut:


Also not helping matters, Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey said back in October that pricing would be “in the $350 ballpark,” when in fact he knew at that time that $600 was roughly the right price.

Compared to the $3000 pricing for the HoloLens dev kit (which, yes, is augmented reality, not VR, and thus not directly comparable), Oculus Rift starts to look somewhat reasonable, even when you factor in the price of the PC. (HoloLens is a standalone system.)

But when compared to the $35 price of a typical Google Cardboard solution, well. Game over. 🙂 And yes. I realize these things aren’t comparable either.


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