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.


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.


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.


World Cup – do I care?

10 June, 2010

Well, not much really.  Having watched the 1966 one in a hotel bar in Ireland nothing that 2010 can do will match that.

However, what we do have now which was not evident in 1966 is an abundance of technology surrounding the event.  You have the infamous new ‘perfect’ football developed by the sports science boffins at Loughborough University which, alas, the players do not seem to have a good word to say about it.

There is the research that has come out of Exeter University to say that the way to succeed at penalty shoot-outs is to totally ignore the goalie – easier said than done I would think.  (Did you know that the England success rate at penalties is 17% whereas the Germans’ is 83%?)

For me though, forget the football.  What has really taken my fancy is the nifty 2010 wheel of information on the marca.com site – I could play with it for hours.

Let’s just hope that, whoever wins the tournament, South Africa comes out the winner overall.


Patience is a Virtue

25 May, 2010

Rumours surrounding Google’s forthcoming Chrome 6 suggest that this version will attempt to predict our next browsing moves, with the aim of making our web surfing even faster.

The ‘predictive pre-connections’ will apparently be based on an analysis of user browsing habits over time. For example, If you enter a search term, it will automatically pre-load in the background the pages you are most likely to visit, which then reduces the amount of time it takes to display those pages should you fulfil the destiny that the great Google has mapped out for you.

There are obvious privacy issues afoot, but am I the only one disappointed that the technological genius of some of the world’s most powerful corporations is being put to gaining a couple of nanoseconds in my web browsing? Isn’t it fast enough already? We have already seen the decline of a generation now insatiable for instant gratification, where will it end? Besides which, Google announced in February that they plan to test out ‘ultrafast’ gigabit broadband offering speeds 100 times faster than most currently available. Doesn’t this make their ‘predictive pre-connections’ a little obsolete in the speed quest?

It seems to me that Google is selling out on positive technological progress in favour of pursuing petty one-upmanship against Microsoft and its Internet Explorer with a pointless new feature. Let’s see some useful innovations please Google, you’re far more likely to find people coming around to Chrome that way.


The police are listening

13 May, 2010

Must be a slow news day at the BBC. A man from Brighton was ‘shocked’ to find out that the local police force in Brighton were following him on Twitter. That’d be Twitter, the publicly viewable site where anyone can follow your updates unless you make your profile private. The one where if you mention certain keywords you quickly acquire a whole load of extra followers trying to sell you something from that industry.

Ssshh, the police are watching

As the spokesperson for the Police in Brighton said, “We use Twitter to engage with the community in a really immediate way. It’s really helpful for us because we can allay any fears or rumours going round.
We can also engage with them and ask them what they want. It’s better than traditional media in that sense.”

Quite. It’s hardly like you’re going to pick up people tweeting “just broken into a house, ROFLMAO,” but instead you might see people in the area complaining about the noise or something relevant where you can get in touch quickly to address these concerns. Twitter isn’t just a medium for businesses and the media, there’s no reason at all why public bodies such as the Police shouldn’t get involved to speak directly to those they serve.

Of course it can go completely overboard as the ‘joke’ tweet about blowing up an airport showed in what has to be one the most ridiculous court cases and conviction in memory.


iPad – I want one of those

12 May, 2010

But only if it comes with a David Hockney.

My style!

Saw a piece in the Evening Standard yesterday of ‘paintings’ that Hockney had created using a £2.99 app on his new iPad.  He then emails them on.  Finger painting at its best.

He used to use the app on his iPhone but the size of the iPad makes it more like a sketch book.

Seriously, it made me think maybe I do want one after all.