Tag Archives: motorola

How the Amiga could have lived to age 30 and beyond

It was 30 years ago this week that Commodore released its landmark, long-time-coming Amiga 1000 computer–the first 1990s computer in a field full of 1970s retreads.

Yes, it was a 1990s computer in 1985. It had color and sound built in, not as expensive, clunky, hard-to-configure add-ons. It could address up to 8 megabytes of memory, though it ran admirably on a mere 512 kilobytes. Most importantly, it had fully pre-emptive multitasking, something that previously only existed in commercial workstations that cost five figures.

It was so revolutionary that even NBC is acknowledging the anniversary.

Being a decade or so ahead of its time was only the beginning of its problems, unfortunately.

Continue reading How the Amiga could have lived to age 30 and beyond

Why this latest attempt to resurrect the Commodore brand will probably flop

The Commodore brand is back again, this time on an Android smartphone. For a premium price, you get an Android 5.0 phone with the Commodore logo on it, preloaded with VICE and an Amiga emulator, which, between the two of them, emulate just about everything Commodore ever made, except, perhaps, the products that can be emulated with the Android calculator app.

But I don’t expect this attempt to be any more successful than earlier efforts to resurrect the brand.

Continue reading Why this latest attempt to resurrect the Commodore brand will probably flop

Meet Waze, the crowdsourced GPS

I’ve read a few things here and there about Waze, a crowdsourced GPS that runs on smartphones, including those that run Android, Apple, and Windows. Its premise is simple: Based on how traffic is moving, it figures out the fastest way to get where you want to go. It adds intelligence to the GPS.

The trade-off, of course, is that it’s tracking you too. The data is anonymized, they promise, but it’s up to you to decide whether it’s a showstopper.

Continue reading Meet Waze, the crowdsourced GPS

The hidden FM radio in your phone

Most modern cell phones have an FM radio built into their SoC, but the only major makers who are actually enabling them are HTC and Motorola. There’s disagreement over whether this is a problem, of course.

My Moto E has an FM radio and an app that lets me use it. I have to say if I’ve used it, I don’t remember it. But as NPR says, there’s an advantage to it.

Continue reading The hidden FM radio in your phone

The first (and maybe cheapest) Amiga product for Amigaholics like me

Before the Amiga was a computer, Amiga was a struggling independent company trying to stay in business so it would get its chance at changing the world. In order to make ends meet while they developed their multitasking computer, Amiga produced and sold joysticks for the game systems and computers that were already on the market.

These joysticks turn up on Ebay fairly frequently.

Continue reading The first (and maybe cheapest) Amiga product for Amigaholics like me

Commodore 16 and Commodore Plus/4

Dan Bowman kindly pointed out to me that former Commodore engineer Bil Herd wrapped up his discussion of the ill-fated Commodore TED machines on Hackaday this week. Here in the States, few remember the TED specifically, but some people may remember that oddball Commodore Plus/4 that closeout companies sold for $79 in 1985 and 1986. The Plus/4 was one of those TED machines. So was the Commodore 16.

What went wrong with those machines? Commodore miscalculated what the market was doing. The TED was a solution to too many problems, and ended up not solving any of them all that well. Continue reading Commodore 16 and Commodore Plus/4

The ultimate budget smartphone: The Moto E

I wanted to like the Moto E, for sentimental reasons. The Motorola who made this phone isn’t the same Motorola who made the MC68000 CPU in my Amiga, and it’s not the same Motorola that built the hulking briefcase-sized bag phone Dad toted around in the 1980s, but the logo is the same.

The stingy Scottish miser in me wanted to like the phone too, because it costs $129. A few short months ago, the only phones you could buy new for under $130 were cheaply made no-name phones like the Blu Advance with half a gig of RAM, a low-visibility screen, a low-end processor you didn’t want and an Android that was a few versions out of date, encased in lots of cheap plastic. Next to the Moto E, the Blu phones lose what little appeal they had.

Continue reading The ultimate budget smartphone: The Moto E

The droid I’m looking for: The $129 Moto E

On Tuesday, Motorola announced the Moto E, a new low-end, $129 phone. Sporting a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU, a single-core GPU, 1 GB of RAM, and a micro SD slot for expandability, it’s a modest phone for modest needs. It won’t be much good for gaming, but it’ll be a nice upgrade over my aging Samsung Galaxy S 4G, and I can take it to T-Mobile, where I have an unsubsidized, bring-your-own-phone plan. Not having a subsidized phone plan saves me about $100 per year, which pays for the phone. When the phone dies, I’ll buy whatever’s available at a comparable price then, which will be better than the most expensive phone on the market right now. There wasn’t anything out there like the Moto E in 2011 when I bought the SGS4G.

I’m probably the kind of person Motorola had in mind for this phone. I use my smartphone but I don’t live on it. I use it to check e-mail, occasionally look something up on the web, use it to download and listen to podcasts, and I have a few apps loaded on it to take advantage of having a dual-core computer in my pocket, but I don’t game or use social media on it. I also don’t use my phone as a status symbol. Give me two cores and a gig of RAM, and I can do everything I need or want to do.

I’ve been tempted by several of Blu’s supercheap phones, but their 512 MB of RAM was a dealbreaker. This costs $40 more than the Blu Advance I’d been eyeing, but to my mind it’s worth it. It ships with 1 GB of RAM, which is more usable, and Android 4.4, which is better suited to the Blu Advance’s skimpy memory than the OS Blu ships with it. Plus it’s guaranteed to get at least one update from Motorola. On top of that, Motorola ships its phones with a better screen and more durable build quality than Blu does. And, given Motorola’s storied past, the Motorola name is worth at least something to me.

I’m also sure the phone will sell well enough to get an aftermarket following, to extend its life even further by delivering future Android releases to it. The Moto G has good aftermarket ROM support, so I would expect the Moto E to follow.

The U.S. release date is June 3. I have better things to do than wait outside for a store to open to get one on that day, but I may very well get one sometime in June.

Getting past your own biases

I read Andy Grove’s Only the Paranoid Survive last week. I always figured it was an autobiography or memoir, not a business book. But it’s a business book.  A very good one.

I avoided it because I didn’t like Andy Grove. I’ve never been a fan of Intel’s business practices during the 1990s and 2000s, including using payola to keep competitors’ chips out of large computer systems, but after reading this book, I’m more disappointed than anything. Whichever company had Andy Grove wins, period. No need to cheat. Continue reading Getting past your own biases