Better, but not much

13 September, 2010

It’s been too long since I’ve contributed to this blog and a lot has happened not least of which an iPhone 4 acquisition which, from what I can see, is a faster, grown-up, very nicely engineered iPhone. But it’s not really all that different from what went before.

I’m still finding new features and figuring out if they are actually useful, I’m not sure voice control has a lot of merit but new apps like Layar are really pointing out what lies ahead with a combination of freely available data superimposed on a digitised view of the world shown on your little screen in real time.

What's over there, behind that idiot with the iPhone?

if I’d seen that suggested even 5 years ago I’d have not believed it would be possible, but seeing the world though a window which drops on information in real time dragged off the internet – on my phone for free – works today and I can see it catching-on fast.

On a more practical level I’d hate to take one apart but I bet it’s easier than the curved back models.  I spent a fascinating evening repairing one of those this week and I’m not planning to do that again for a very long time.

I’m normally pretty capable with a box of tools but the sheer scale of an iPhone assembly made me realise that my eyesight and dexterity are both starting to show their combined age.  Fortunately age and experience (stubbornness) finally triumphed over fiendish Californian ingenuity and the device lives again.

If you get an iPhone or iPod it is possible to fix a screen for the price of a decent pizza but trust one of these nice services who offer to do it for you, trust me it’s so worth it.

Don’t mess with the press

10 August, 2010

There have been a couple of stories already this week that have illustrated just how hard it is now to stop both the media and the general public from talking about you – and the harder you try, the more they talk.

For some reason, Southampton FC’s executive chairman Nicola Cortese made the decision to ban national and local newspaper photographers from the game. Suffice to say both the local and national press didn’t take too kindly to being forced to use official photography. The Sun used the first part of its match report to complain about the decision and then for the rest refused to name Southampton, instead just calling them ‘the opposition.’

In contrast the Plymouth Herald newspaper hired artist Chris Robinson to sketch cartoons of the action resulting in some of the most unique pictures to accompany a match report in memory.  The second of the two is frankly brilliant and a trend that I’d like to see more of in football stories.

Also in the news is Tory MP Dominic Raab who has demanded his email be removed from website 38 Degrees as he doesn’t have time to go through all the emails he gets a result. The website has refused to back down (supported by the Information Commissioners office) saying that as an MP, his email address should be public. Suffice to say that as a result the story went viral on Twitter and this morning appears in many of the day’s papers gaining the hapless MP even more publicity (and no doubt emails) than he ever would have got originally.

The lesson for everyone here? Sometimes, no matter how much you think something is a good idea, it’s best not to take on either the media or the internet…

(Image from The Daily Nation)

Advertising, scmadvertising

2 August, 2010

So IBM researchers are working on developing ‘Minority Report’ style advertising. This is all well and good, I suppose you’ve got have something to do (although if people are going to base their work on technology they’ve seen in sci-fi movies I’d still rather they focused their efforts on making some hoverboards already).

However, what really grates about this announcement is that this is being heralded as another breakthrough in the seemingly incessant push for more ‘targeted’ advertising. To quote from the story: “IBM claims that its technology will help prevent consumers from being subjected to a barrage of irritating advertising because they will only be shown adverts for products that are relevant to them.”

Now, I realise advertising is pretty much a fact of life, however, when is everyone going to realise that no matter how targeted they are, adverts are always going to be annoying? As much as advertising agencies, and the clients they represent, try to persuade us otherwise, no one wants to be stomped in the face over and over again by an advert – even if it is for their fizzy drink of choice or the maker of that jumper they saw the other day that looked quite nice.

As I say, I’d like to think there are other technologies that are worth prioritising before ‘new advertising platform’. And the sooner the ad people stop pretending that everyone would love adverts “if only they were more personal” the better. Tell us what it is and how much it is. Those that want it will buy it. Those that don’t, won’t. And leave the boffins to make me a hoverboard – which, incidentally, I would buy without needing an advert to persuade me it was a good idea.

Inappropriate whine…

26 July, 2010

I saw something in a pub that really upset me over the weekend. This is what it was.

Wine on a tap? Wine. On. A tap. Draught wine.

This is, apparently, old news. My announcement of draught wine didn’t afford the cacophony of protest I had expected; no ‘clunk’ of jaws hitting floors; no smashing of dropped pint glasses; no anguished screams followed by back-of-the-hand-to-the-forehead sitcom-style fainting. Nothing.

Amongst the plethora of other high-quality packaging options, (bottles, boxes, plastic tubs, barrels, old milk bottles, bathtubs), wine, apparently, occasionally comes on draught now. And this is deemed as acceptable.

Am I alone in finding this to be a bridge too far? This is now the world we live in. This is the result of roughly 10,000 years of evolution. First Dan Brown, now this. Truly The End Times have come…

On the other hand they *did* have an excellent website.

There. Technology blog, Not a rant. No sir. Not a rant.

Are you out there?

22 July, 2010

Or are you stuck inside updating your profile on Facebook? As half the population of the UK are signed up users, according to statistics out today, there must be many people doing just that.

Worldwide there are 500 million users, with the average user on the site for over half an hour per day.

So, are you with the half that is in or the half against?  Maybe that could be the new ‘half full / half empty’ glass personality decider?  Interesting, because I am a ‘half full’ person but definitely not a Facebook person. What does that make me? An extrovert loner or just someone who prefers to speak to friends or send them personal emails than sharing my life with the world.

(By the way I put my contact lenses in the wrong eyes today and wandered around for three hours with blurred vision.  I am sharing this with you as I don’t have a Facebook site to put it on.)

Why blog?

5 July, 2010

I was talking to a client recently who asked if I had seen the company’s blog, which I had, and we got into a discussion on the topic of blogging.

I remember when blogs first appeared on the scene and a director saying I should pen one as my family seemed to lead such a disasterous life! (I didn’t as discretion is definitely the better part of valour.) And that was what blogging was all about then – commenting on what was happening around you and how you viewed life.

Now everyone is doing it and the blogsphere is awash with corporate comment.  The trouble is, the spontaneity has gone as these have to be check, checked and checked again before being passed to ‘legal’ for the final approval.  This means that the life is sucked out of the site and the blogs remain commentless because there is no content left to comment on.

If a company wants to be seen as a ‘thought leader’ it has to allow its bloggers some leeway.

(Hope this gets past the EML team!)

What a great big fuss!

11 June, 2010

I watched with interest as the news broke yesterday afternoon that O2 was to stop offering unlimited data to smartphone users, like AT&T has done in the US.

“This can’t be fair”, “I know people who only stick with O2 because the data is unlimited!” and so it went on.

No any more - it's for your own good!

The fact of the matter is that the mobile networks all struggle to keep up with the ludicrous volumes of data downloaded through mobile connections in the UK (mostly tethered to a laptop at home I have no doubt).  The BBC report I read said that 3% of O2’s customers are using 36% of the network’s data capacity! Capacity which you’ll probably know is borrowed from the voice traffic on the same network.  If you’ve ever wondered why mobile calls are harder to place and receive look no further than the nearest iPhone.

I use an iPhone for voice and data when I’m away from the office and warmly welcome actions which make the service better for the vast majority of users.

On the flip side the appetite for unlimited fully-mobile data at screaming-data-rates is a good sign for the industry. It will be satisfied when the networks are enhanced with the best that the next generation technology developers can provide, and it will probably give us a living for years to come.