Wednesday, 27 May 2015

FIFA Corruption On Epic Scale

Today will go down in history as the day that changed football forever. The FBI undertook a number of dawn raids to arrest officials whose duty had been to ensure the integrity of the sport, but who appear to have colluded in one of the longest running and most lucrative examples of corruption that sport has ever seen.

For details of the arrests and allegations you won't go far wrong with the BBC's report here.

The question no-one seems prepared to answer is what happens to the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, due to be held in Qatar and Russia and now almost certainly tainted by the knowledge that they were secured as a result of the bribery of corrupt officials.

It is unthinkable that these tournaments should proceed as planned. FIFA should immediately call a halt to the proceedings, particularly in Qatar where the death toll of migrant workers rises on a daily basis.

The 2022 tournament bidding process can be re-done, however it is too late to do that for 2018. Either the tournament should be cancelled or rescheduled in a country with existing infrastructure in place.

Whilst a part of me would like to see the 2018 tournament cancelled to ensure the corruption of those involved is never forgotten, this would punish those players who would miss the opportunity to represent their countries at the highest level. So an alternative venue must be found.

Logically there is only one choice for this venue: the UK. Existing stadia, transport and supporting infrastructure, fresh from the success of the 2012 Olympics and a cathartic homecoming for a sport in disarray.


Monday, 25 May 2015

New iPhone Dock Uncharacteristically Shoddy

Docks used to be the norm, plonking your phone on the desk and plugging it in? Too much effort when you can drop it into a dock and have it at a usable angle as well as fully connected. Apple has always offered a dock as an accessory for its iPhones, except for the iPhone 6 and 6+, which have had to do without since launch.

Apple have filled this gap with a new dock which promises to be the last iPhone dock you ever buy. However once you see it you'll probably decide that it's actually the last iPhone dock you should consider buying, because its design is flawed.

Unlike previous docks where the connector sat in a channel which helped to support the device and made for a good solid platform for tapping and dragging, the new Lightning dock's connector is raised above a flat surface, and when you place your iPhone on it the only thing holding it upright is the Lightning connector itself.

I dread to think of the forces being applied to the connector, especially if you happen to be tapping the top of the iPhone's screen. I'm sure that all of that force applied across the small surface area of the Lightning connector is going to result in a catastrophic failure of the dock or, worse, the Lightning connector on your phone. And the lack of a stable platform means that your iPhone is going to be awfully wobbly if you try and use it whilst it in the dock.

It is such a poorly thought out design I find it hard to believe that Apple is responsible for this product. There are plenty of better docks out there, I suggest that you seek one of those out.

F1: Hamilton Contributed To Monaco Screw Up

Lewis Hamilton dominated the Monaco Grand Prix almost from start to finish, yet ended the weekend with only a third place to show for his troubles. The result of a miscalculation by the team in the safety car period which followed the accident between Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean.

Completely blameless then. Apparently not.

Looks like the team initially intended to keep Hamilton out, but concerned he would face Rosberg and Vettel on newer, supersoft tyres which would be much faster than the aging softs on his Mercedes, Hamilton himself asked to come in for a tyre change.

Mercedes made two errors. Firstly, it failed to calculate the delay Hamilton's pitstop would entail, dropping him behind both Rosberg and Vettel; and, secondly, they failed to tell Hamilton that Rosberg had not stopped and nor had Vettel.

For Hamilton's part he lost the race by failing to back himself. He didn't believe that he could hold Rosberg and Vettel back if they were on newer tyres than his own, and once the error was made he wasn't able to make the advantage of new tyres on the fastest car on the grid count and get past Vettel, never mind Rosberg.

It was a bad day at the office for Mercedes and Hamilton. And when that bad day results in a two car podium finished and extended constructor's championship lead, you get a feeling for how one-sided the 2015 Championship has been thus far.

Microsoft To Buy Blackberry At $7bn? Sounds Steep

Blackberry has done a half decent job of slowing its decline into irrelevance, diversifying its product lines and spreading its software further. Its the services division which offers the biggest glimmer of hope for the business though, with mobile device management, messaging security and its embedded software offering some marketable assets to tempt buyers.

Tempting in those buyers seems to be the only prospect that Blackberry has for the future. Although rumoured interest from Samsung hasn't materialised, it hasn't stopped the whispering. Now Microsoft is the apparent suitor, with the services division being a big enough drawer to coax $7bn out of the Microsoft war chest.

That's more than Microsoft paid for Nokia. And it seems awfully high. Especially when you look for value from that purchase.

Personally I'd be happier to hear that Microsoft was considering an acquisition of Nokia's Here Maps division. That hasn't even begun to be conjecture yet. Either way, it looks like Satya Nadella sees a route out of Microsoft's past problems leading in a similar direction to that being followed by Marissa Meyer at Yahoo.

I think one of them has a decent shot at success. 

F1: Verstappen Monaco Penalty A Nonsense

Max Verstappen had quite a weekend in Monaco, fast and fluid through free practice, sensible in qualifying and tactically astute during the race, where he pulled off some tidy passes. 

He also directly influenced the result of the race, when he caused the sport's first Virtual Safety Car period and then the Safety Car which flummoxed Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton to the extent that they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Perhaps driver steward Tom Kristensen is a big Lewis Hamilton fan and wanted to punish Max for Lewis losing the race, because the penalty for the accident - a five place grid penalty for the Canadian Grand Prix in two weeks time - has no other explanation.

It's a complete nonsense.

Verstappen's accident with Roman Grosjean was just that - a racing accident, an attempt to overtake that didn't go as planned. Verstappen tried to dummy the Lotus driver into Ste. Devote, the tight first corner at the bottom of the hill. As he switched from left to right he misjudged his speed, Grosjean's braking point or the gap between the cars, tagging Grosjean's right rear with his left front and barrelling into the safety barrier at some speed.

This was no crazy, suicidal move guaranteed to end in carnage, this was a legitimate passing attempt being made at one of the few places at Monaco where that is possible. To penalise Verstappen for this move sends completely the wrong message to the drivers (and fans).

We want overtaking. We want more of it. We even want overtaking which doesn't come off occasionally.

Because the Monaco race was pretty tedious even with the efforts of the Toro Rosso driver. Without them it would have been a complete snooze-fest.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Kiwis Can Get A Great Deal On The HP Stream 7 Right Now

I previously had a look at the HP Stream 7 tablet, a budget device running Windows 8.1 with Bing. I was quite impressed with it at the time, given its low price it was a convincingly good piece of kit.
Anybody in New Zealand who might have been holding off buying one because it was still too expensive should rush out to The Warehouse, where the diminutive Windows tablet can currently be picked up for just $149. That's an absolute steal.

Indycar Safety Team Saved Hinchliffe's Life After Practice Crash

James Hinchcliffe's practice accident at Indianapolis looked pretty nasty, but not particularly life threatening. However Racer is reporting that the Canadian's life hung in the balance after the impact.

The right front suspension was punched through the carbon fibre tub of Hinchcliffe's Dallara, passing through his right thigh, left thigh and then spearing up into his pelvis.

When the Indycar team arrived at the scene Hinchcliffe was in the process of bleeding out, presumably because one or both of his femoral arteries had been severed by the suspension.

The work done by the safety team should be highly praised. When they arrived at the scene Hinchcliffe was impaled in the car and losing blood at a life threatening rate.

Extracting and stabilising the driver in these circumstances was a magnificent effort.

The dangers of sending drivers around a concrete-lined bowl at speeds in excess of 230 mph have never been more apparent.

Apple UK Apparently Outs iPhone 6C

Steve Jobs is probably spinning in his grave right now, as super secretive Apple has apparently let slip the existence of an upgraded 4" iPhone based in the style of the iPhone 5C. The mistake occurred on an Apple UK page for the new Lightning dock for iPhone.

The image above, shows a 5C-like device supporting a Touch ID sensor, clear evidence of this being based on a later iPhone than the current 5C, which channels the spirit of the dead iPhone 5.

As the Forbes article  suggests, this probably means that the new device will also have support for Apple Pay, making it the most advanced 4" iPhone Apple has ever shipped.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

A Smartphone For £30!

Thirty quid. It won't buy you a tank of petrol, nor would it cover the cost of a half decent night out. It will get you a half decent smartphone on pay as you go though.

O2 is currently offering the Lumia 435 for exactly that amount, and whilst nobody would claim it's anything other than a budget device at this price I'm sure it has no comparable peers.

Yes the screen is far from the best, or biggest but it is usable and all Windows Phone software will run on its dual-core processor. It copes with gaming pretty well too, as the video above demonstrates. It's packing 1GB of RAM, which means that it should have no problems running Windows 10 Mobile when it arrives.

At £30 the low-spec cameras (2.Omp at the back, VGA at the front) are hard to complain about, similarly the absence of 4G connectivity. A micro SD card slot is included to expand the generous (at this price point anyway) 8GB of on-board storage.

This is definitely a phone for a niche in the market. A first phone for youngsters or an easy to use phone for the older buyer.

It has been built to fit that niche perfectly. And now it is priced to do so too.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Your Old Android Phone Might Be Giving Your Data Away

Arstechnica has a report that should worry you if you've sold an old Android phone. In 80% of devices tested data was left accessible on internal storage after a hard reset.

That includes both the Master Android and Google tokens, either of which would allow an attacker to access data from the associated Gmail account.

Given the level of information being stored on phones and the level to which email accounts are used to recover lost logins, that's a disturbing piece of news.

The issue affects Android phones dating back as far as the Gingerbread release of the OS and could potentially amount to half a billion devices.

Enough to put you off buying (and selling) an Android phone?