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.

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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.


Save as many as you can.

29 March, 2010

As an owner of a large ‘older’ car, built the year the Dow closed above 4000 for the first time in history, the WTO was established, when 10x murderess Rose West got life and Microsoft released Windows 95 [oops gave it away with that last one], I’ve always had a slightly [emphasis on the slightly] guilty conscience about the volume of energy I use.

Yes this really is the way my kids get to school, sometimes.

The news covered by Richard Black today at the BBC lets me rest a little easier, the gulf stream is not slowing down. Phew, the day after tomorrow isn’t just round the corner and all those people trapped in New York’s library will remain safely inside a “DVD bargain” for many years to come.  Ironically I could have bought that excellent film as a double-feature with, of all things, Independence Day – today at the lunchtime supermarket checkout for just £5, but I digress.

The fact that this environment story made headline news at all today says an awful lot about the awareness that has settled throughout the developed world. No one can claim they know nothing about that story before they read a Gulf Stream ‘is not slowing down’ headline.

In 1995 I’d have been mostly ignorant and generally un-caring.


Who invited them?

15 January, 2010

I got an invoice from iTunes this morning in my in-box for a bunch of Russian related applications I didn’t want or order.

So slick your Russian granny can use it.

It will be interesting to see how well the system deals with, what on the face of it, what appears to be a good old fashioned data processing failure.

On the day 50,000 Vodafone iPhones hit the UK system, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if something somewhere went a little bit wrong for one new Apple convert, and for me of course.

The way I see it I’m fairly safe, I can keep a secret and my details are secure on Apple’s service, my credit card provider isn’t phased – the software iTunes spat out somewhere in my name on someone else’s computer, is all DRM protected – so presumably there’s someone with a non-functioning copy of iGO my way GPS navigation and SolvoEd Deluxe English-Russian dictionary on their nice new iPhone, and right now they are giving Vodafone what for.

That’s how it’s supposed to work, that’s the up-side of DRM and secure web services right?

What’s that… you’ll believe it when you see it?

Maybe I’ll let you know – anyway welcome-aboard Vodafone types!


BBC crash map

18 December, 2009

Being a sucker for statistics I was taken by the BBC’s presentation of the last 10 years of road accidents based on official statistics released by the Department of Transport. The data presentation, which includes 2008, allows the viewer to select various criteria to see when accidents happen to certain people.

Age, sex, vehicle type, weather, it’s all there and you can enter your postcode to see how the pattern of death on the roads changes year by year. Not by much is the answer, although it is visibly reducing in my area, in spite of the huge increase in traffic over the last 10 years.

Inevitably the overview section covers some of the factors contributing to the improvement in road safety (or the cut in deaths) – “Research shows that 20mph zones can cut injuries by 40%” states one of the captions – oh really? Driving slower cuts fatalities, who knew?

Automotive technology has to make an impact on 2009's statistics.

I wonder if the UK scrapage-scheme’s effect will be noticed in next year’s figures? All these regular people driving round in brand new Euro NCAP 5 super minis where once they had rusty old Astras or Puntos. Technology advances will surely have a measurable effect – all that clever CAD, active safety systems and 21st century materials science must cut fatalities – otherwise technology isn’t serving its purpose and science isn’t being correctly applied.

Anyway my recommendation this Christmas is to be a woman cycling in the snow at about 6am on a motorway – what could possibly go wrong?


Access denied – #nocleanfeed

15 December, 2009

The Australian government’s attempts to once again restrict internet users’ access to certain sites should be interesting. Do we have a basic human right to access all dangerous illegal content? Maybe not, but it comes down to who decides what’s dangerous and illegal – that is the real question.

The technology challenge is seriously high – a couple of years ago the Guardian covered another Australian attempt, but that didn’t go well. However this time the technology should be better, and according to the BBC they’ve done the trials and it “was 100% effective“.

So once again we have a technology story which is far more about society’s attitude to information, and freedom of access, than the science behind it.

There’s hope for us all yet.


But does it make coffee?

13 November, 2009

Every week there’s another smart phone, we were just debating Dell’s latest entry to the market and who’s making it for them (Taiwan or China).  And then at the end of a fun-filled couple of rather intensive days here in technology PR land, a Twitter buddy spots this Xphone and it cheered me right up!

I don’t think they quite explain how the fission reaction is contained in such a slim-line device but hey, I’ll believe anything these days.