Showing posts from May, 2009

PSP Go Arrives Ahead Of E3 Launch, In Stores Autumn

This is the new PSP Go, due to compliment the current PSP 3000 when it arrives later this year. I can't say that its the best looking handheld around and as its likely to ship without a UMD drive it won't have access to current disk based titles. On the plus side it will have Bluetooth and 16GB of flash storage with the option to expand via a memory slot - almost certainly the latest version of the Memory Stick standard.

I'm sure that Sony will have plenty to say when it finally launches this but I'm struggling to see how a device this ugly is going to compete with either the iPhone or the DSi.

Police Prosecutions In Expenses Scandal?

Tory leader David Cameron is calling for the police to investigate fraudulent claims for mortgage payments as the number of MPs implicated keeps on growing.

So far thirteen MPs have said they will stand down at the next election (in itself a grubby scheme to stretch out the gravy train for a little while longer) and the number who have serious questions to answer is nearing 100 - approaching one in six of our elected representation.

Cameron is right that these claims should be investigated, if a private individual had made the same 'mistakes' at a corporate body they would have been immediately dismissed and criminal proceedings initiated. Let's ensure our MPs get at least the same service.

Three Like Home No More, 30th June

Three broke the mould with its 'Like Home' service which allowed their customers to roam on partner networks using their standard allowance and tarrifs. Looks like the service is all but up now, staff in stores are warning customers (but not volunteering the information, only when probed on the matter) and Three's website also warns of the service ending on the Like Home page.

Not sure what Three are planning on putting in place as a replacement, although I suspect that it won't be anything as beneficial unfortunately.

Sky Player Live Streaming Comes To XBox 360

Microsoft and Sky have announced that from next season live football matches and other live sports will be available through the Xbox 360 Live service. There will be a range of subscription and pay per view options and there will be a co-operative watching service... now putting the boot in to your mates as their team falls behind can be remote fun when you can't enjoy their pain first hand.

F1: Teams Make Conditional Entry For 2010

Surprise, surprise all ten teams have entered next year's championship - although the nine teams that comprise the FOTA have made that conditional on agreement over the controversial budget cap. Hs looking like the cap on budgets will be introduced in a phased manner, hitting the $40m target possibly as early as 2011.

The positive effect is that for the first time in a number of years we'll be seeing full grids with 13 teams having submitted entries. The three new teams will benefit from additional support from the manufacturers to compensate for the increased budget cap.

The only remaining queries are around engine supply... particularly around the Prodrive/Aston Martin entry. Who will be prepared to support a competitor's entry? I suspect not Ferrari, Mercedes or BMW and the thought of an Aston Martin-Toyota or Aston Martin-Renault just doesn't sit well with its aspirational brand values.

HTC Universal, Still The Daddy

I've been playing around with my HTC Universal again for the last couple of days, primarily to try out the new Skyfire release, but also because the combination of large, swivelling screen, usable keyboard and fast processor make it as good a tool today as any of the newer handhelds which have arrived more recently.With Skyfire, Pocketwit and Windows Live loaded I have all the software I use on a regular basis. If the Windows Mobile Facebook app ran on WM5 then that would be a bonus, however the creation of emails, blog posts, SMS and documents is so much better with the Universal's keyboard that I'm half tempted to restore it to my kitbag as daily driver.There remains just one weakness in the design - the poor call handling. With no external screen with the case closed its impossible to vet calls, something that I can't do without. Oh well, another year hoping for HTC to release an updated Universal...

F1: Prodrive Lodge 2010 Entry

Dave Richards Prodrive organisation has become the second organisation to lodge its entry into the 2010 World Championship and its believed that Spain's Campos team and Lola have also lodged, or are intending to lodge, entries today.Interesting point about the Prodrive entry is the suggestion that the team will be branded Aston Martin for the 2011 season. Without wishing to sound negative, unless Richards has the wherewithall to develop his own drivetrain then that just isn't going to work. An Aston Martin powered by a Renault or Toyota engine is a ridiculous concept and will do nothing to boost sales, whilst BMW, Mercedes and Ferrari are direct competition in the luxury/supercar markets and are hardly likely to want to boost the chances of a competitor in their profitable market segments. So unless we are about to see the return of Cosworth or Megatron or indeed any other engine builder the idea of an Aston Martin entry isn't feasible. Should any of those engines become a…

Skyfire Reaches Version 1.0

Skyfire has made quite a splash in the Windows Mobile browser space since its arrival less than six months ago. Now its reached sufficient maturity to come out of beta and become version 1.0.

If you haven't come across Skyfire before, this is something of a revelation in the mobile browser space, as a big a step as Apple's Safari made when launched on the iPhone.

Browsing is up to the iPhone in terms of performance and capacity - even the zoom function works in the same way as the iPhone. However Skyfire's USP is its ability to display just about anything that your desktop browser can manage - Flash 10, Youtube and iPlayer for example all work in the browser as their designers intended. Having used the release version on a couple of machines I have to say its very impressive indeed, not only does it manage to deliver on its 'real' web promise, but its also incredibly quick in the process.

If you haven't tried Skyfire yet then point your Windows Mobile or Symbian S…

F1: Williams Breaks Rank, Enters 2010 Championship

The first signs of the breakdown in the FOTA alliance appeared with the announcement that Williams have submitted its entry into the 2010 championship. Whether this weakens the alliance or strengthens its resolve remains to be seen, but with only 24 hours left for teams to submit entries we'll soon find out.
Williams are part of a significant minority of teams who rely on racing as their only form of business and therefore have to be part of the championship, unless they can be assured that the manufacturers can plan and deliver their own championship within the next ten months, not impossible but incredibly difficult even if they agree to maintain the existing regulations. Of the remaining teams in the FOTA those with the most to lose are Brawn and Force India, although both must be more than well aware that the real World Championship is the one with Ferrari and Mclaren in it.
I suspect that Bernie Ecclestone is sharp enough to understand where the power lies, so ultimately some f…

Microsoft Goes After iPod Touch - Say Hello To Zune HD

As leaked last month, Microsoft made the touchscreen Zune official today, in a clear indication that they are going after the iPod Touch with deadly intention. On the hardware side we have a 3.3" OLED screen of 480 x 272 resolution, a bit disappointing given the ready availability of both VGA and WVGA resolutions of the same size. Wifi is present too, although apparently not Bluetooth, giving away more ground to Apple.

Output with an optional dock goes up to 720p for video, on the device the video will be downscaled - on device 'HD' is limited to radio, not much use if its going to be heading to Europe where the DAB standard rules.

For now the Zune HD will remain US only, although Zune content and Zune Video may make it over here as some compensation. Details of the tie-in to the XboX 360, also confirmed today, aren't fleshed out yet, so no word on whether gaming is part of the Zune's armoury.

In fact today's release probably raises as many questions as it answer…

F1: Ferrari Flatter To Deceive

After this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix everyone seems to be talking about Ferrari's magnificent comeback, after a race that given only slightly different circumstances could have seen them beat the all-conquering Brawns to win their first race of the season.
I'd suggest that whilst it was a magnificent performance that must have been a real fillip for the team, the circumstances probably suggest it was a flash in the pan. Aerodynamically the Brawn's have been the class of the field since the start of the season and that's been a large part of the reason for their success. On the other hand, Ferrari look like they got a bit lost on the aerodynamic side of things over the winter and are behind not only Brawn but Red Bull, Toyota and Williams as well. However at Monaco aerodynamics have a much smaller part in determining a good lap time than at any other circuit in the championship. Mechanical grip and accessible power are all important. Thus with their weakness minimi…

David Van Day To Stand For Parliament

Frankly its a sign of how far down our MPs have dragged down the reputation of Parliament over the last twenty or thirty years that a character as unpleasant as David Van Day seems like just the sort of person who would fit in?

Surely its time for some accountability for politicians and their unelected cronies. Let the electorate have a real say in who says and goes.

How To Get Your OQO Fixed

The final curtain seems to have come down on OQO, somewhere a fat lady is belting out an operatic masterpiece, no doubt. For UK owners, at least, there is some solace in that whilst official support may disappeared, the first point of contact if your machine fails is in fact the retailer -in most cases Expansys.

In fact the failure of OQO puts Expansys in a pretty bad position - they can't fix most of the problems that afflict OQO's which means that they are in a position of having to offer refunds to customers who have a problem. So remember, if your OQO is less than a year old when it fails its Expansys' responsibility to get it fixed or provide a replacement unit, acceptable alternative or refund.

Clio Renaultsport 200, Are Things Getting A Little Silly Here?

This is the new top of the range Renault Clio, the Renaultsport 200. That 200 does indeed mean 200bhp - to put that into context the original Sierra Cosworth packed 204bhp and the original BMW M3 just 195.

What concerns me is that the Clio is going to cost under £16,000 - probably a lot less if you pressure your dealer appropriately - a price that is going to attract younger, inexperienced drivers who are already the road's biggest killers.

Never mind more speed cameras or reduced speed limits the time has come to introduce mandatory high speed and performance driving courses; and restricting driver's choice of cars until they have built up experience in lesser vehicles.

Its unlikely to happen - after all more cameras means more revenue, something the government can ill-afford to ignore. Although at what point the power levels of what are, after all, entry-level cars become so high that it becomes impossible to ignore remains to be seen. Maybe when the hot hatch hits 300bhp...

So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

If you don't recognise the quote at the top of this page you probably haven't enjoyed the phenomenom that is The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy (aka H2G2) or the other works of its author Douglas Adams.

Today is Towel Day, a celebration of his life so in honour here are a few links to familiarise yourself with:

Official website

Wiki Quotes

Five Second Wake With XP, What's New?

One of the major talking points in reviews of the Viliv S5 has been its ability to wake from sleep in five seconds. Which is suprising really as the Samsung Q1 Ultra has been able to do that from day one. In fact I'll hazard a guess and say that the SSD version beats that figure.

Doesn't compare to the two seconds that OS X manages to resume in but, let's face it, who's going to lose sleep over three seconds?

New Maemo Tablet/Phone Surfaces At MobileCrunch

This leak of what will possibly be the N900 at Mobile Crunch looks very exciting indeed - putting the Maemo of into direct competition with both Symbian and Apple/Rim/Microsoft.

Specs look pretty good and the device looks to be more phone-shaped than the N810, if the comparative renders are to be believed. The ugly looking image can be safely discounted I think, if there's one thing Nokia has delivered consistently with its Internet Tablets its great industrial design.

Release dates are looking like July this year, so I wonder if Nokia will announce early June in an attempt to disrupt the launches of the Pre and new iPhone?

O2 Pulls Pre Masterstroke - Maybe

Reports that O2 have grabbed an exclusive UK deal for the Palm Pre are looking more and more like they're on the money. The Guardian is reporting that the Pre will be available in the UK in fine for the Christmas rush - which suggests a late October date, although availability is probably going to linited. For O2 they now have an almost guaranteed success on their hands, as people start coming out of their iPhone contracts from January next year O2 will be able to offer them a choice of the new iPhone, the Palm Pre or even Windows Mobile and Blackberry handsets. And if the story that Apple wants to end its exclusive deals in European markets turns out to be true O2 can always switch sell to the Palm instead. Seems to me that customer churn on iPhone contracts will be somewhat below the market average...

Snouts In The Trough

Despite the best efforts of some to turn this expenses issue into a partisan issue, it seems obvious that the problems extend right across the political spectrum. Want proof? This BBC page lists all the parties and their MPs currently known to have abused the system.

Whilst we can't expect our representatives to be angels, I think its reasonable to expect some respect for the people represented when spending money which is sourced from our pockets. It's clear that few MPs see things the same way, especially those who have been caught in the act yet refuse to do the decent thing and resign from parliament. The offer of standing down at the next election is a very poor stab at contrition.

Above all it's clear that most, if not all, the guilty are not sorry for what they have done, only that they have been caught. Its about time the electoral commission added a none of the above option to ballot papers so that it becomes possible to reject the whole shower when voting. Do you …

Techcrunch, And The RIAA Scandal... Maybe

Something odd going down between and techcrunch, with the latter pointing an accusing finger at the former over allegations and denials about what data has and hasn't passed between the RIAA and the music scrobbling service.

The question has some implications for users of the service, not least because its likely the database would be able to pinpoint those users who had played an album before its official release data, helping them track down the source of these copies.

For its a critical time - proof that they did release this data would effectively kill the service as users abandon them due to a lack of trust. There's also the very real possibility of prosecution under the DPA for transferring data out of the UK.

I'm currently giving the benefit of the doubt, but many others are rather angry about the whole situation. Let's hope for a final resolution to this war of words sooner rather than later, then we can all go back to enjoying the …

Nokia Plots Maemo Phones, Needs To Buy An iPhone First

So Nokia is planning to move Maemo from the Internet tablet space and into the smartphone arena. which is all well and good when you compare the touch experience on the Maemo platform to the latest touch additions to Symbian, but Maemo won't be competing with Symbian out in the market.

Take the iPhone and put it up against the current pre-eminent Maemo device - Nokia's N810 - and its clear that whilst Nokia have got some things right, there are also areas which if replicated on a smartphone would lead to a massive flop.

The iPhone experience is all about slick, the GUI is beautiful to behold, works smoothly and above all cushions an inexperienced or non-technical user from the machinery behind that makes the OS work. The price you pay is absolute dictation by Apple of what you are allowed to install, do and change.

Conversely the N810 is the hackers dream, you can get as down and dirty with the OS and software as you like. In fact most of the hacking has already been done for you…

Does Palm Plan For Failure?

With the Pre just a few short weeks away and an absolute requirement to battle Apple in the application arena, you'd think Palm would be doing everything possible to woo the developer community. Apparently not as this sorry tale recounts.

Either this is a particularly distorted view or Palm is staffing its senior management with mouth-breathing retards... and I doubt its the former!

Toddler Wins eBay Auction, Parents Should Be Locked Up

Here's a lovely example of life in the 21st Century, a 3-year old in New Zealand won an auction on eBay for a NZ$20,000 excavator whilst her parents were asleep, having left her to play on the internet. I can't begin to list all the things that are wrong with this particular example of parental neglect, but for God's sake doesn't New Zealand have a Child Welfare department?

Sending a child out to play on the internet is better than sending them out to play in traffic but that's about as far as it goes. And the mother's only comment? We won't be using auto-logins any more. Wrong answer stupid. Use all the auto-logins you like, just supervise your child if they're on the internet.

Oh and a three year old left to fend for herself? Absolutely indefensible. Play with your kids, give them some attention and time.

Rant over...

Classic Monaco Grand Prix - 1982

The BBC's trip down memory lane continues for this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix and the selection this time round is fantastic, with the pick of the bunch being 1982's race.

This was the first weekend after Gilles Villeneuve's death and also the weekend when the end of the Cosworth era began. Whilst Villeneuve won the previous year's race in a turbo-charged Ferrari that had required a large slice of luck and Villeneuve's incredible ability to achieve. In 1982 the Renault Turbos of Arnoux and Prost dominated and had both not decided to end their races in the barriers it would have been a highly creditable one-two on a track which recieved wisdom said would never favour a turbo car.

Those final three laps are notable not only for themselves but also for Murray Walker's commentary - there's even a moment when he's lost for words, a notable event in itself. Once again only available for UK users, highlights are available here.

Vodafone Roaming Changes Exclude Data

From June 1st Vodafone will be removing roaming charges for customers traveling in Europe. The catch is that these changes only apply to calls and messages and do nothing to address the outrageous charges for data roaming.

Its particularly disappointing because Three already offers its 'Three Like Home' roaming service which gives you standard charges on Three's networks across the world. Unfortunately there's no Three network in France or Spain, but its a sign that Three are genuinely ahead of the game here, unlike other networks who pay lip service to the idea.

Orange, Vodafone, T-Mobile and O2 are all part of large European companies with extensive pan-European networks, so the idea of them charging you through the nose for roaming is ridiculous when you are still on their network anyway. The EU's price limits don't go far enough and should demand that a roaming user pays no more for calls, messages and data than a local subscriber, even if that only applies …

Bigger Numbers At The CAFE

America's new broom continues to sweep through the chaos and ignorance that typified the previous administration. Yesterday saw a positive change in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard, car makers are now required to deliver an average of 35mpg across their range of cars. This figure is calculated from all sales and stiff financial penalties can be applied for failing to achieve the standard.

Those of us on this side of the pond will look at that figure with some incredulity, with European averages way higher than that already, however the sheer number of cars in the US and their incredibly poor fuel consumption means that even the smallest improvement will result in billions of tons reduction in carbon emissions.

Hopefully the need for super efficient vehicles to balance the American desire for ga guzzlers will mean that we see more choice in electric and alternative fuel vehicles for those who have an appreciation for the environmental damage already done by our love of t…

iPhone Hardware Upgrade Coming?

With the announcement of the Palm Pre's availability on June 6th it was inevitable that some kind of reaction would come from Apple, officially or otherwise. Sure enough details have slipped onto the 'net of the next iPhone's specification.

Alleged updates include the doubling of flash capacity to 16Gb and 32Gb; a new screen utilising OLED technology; additional system RAM; an FM transmitter and a built-in compass, all wrapped in a new shell. Coupled with the additional features announced for iPhone OS 3.0 this seems a credible story. Although it does smack of conjecture, not least because all the likely predictions are easily extracted from the software update.

Alleged arrival is July 17th following a June 8th announcement.

June 6th For US Palm Pre

Sprint will be launching the Palm Pre in the US on June 6th at a price of $199 with contract. That usually translates into a free with contract UK price - so all we need to know now is GSM availability, a UK launch date and who the operator is going to be.

In the meantime we should start to see reviews from US sources which will either confirm or dispell the Palm pre-release hype. Just over a couple of weeks to go then and we'll know whether Palm has a future or not.

Wolfram Alpha Underdelivers

Like many I've been testing Wolfram Alpha, the new knowledge engine which is apparently going to give Google nightmares by changing the way we search. This far its been an uninspiring experience. The questions it can answer don't actually improve on the Google experience at all, Google allowing you to see the source of its results which allows you to judge their credibility. However the majority of queries I tried were unanswerable by Wolfram which just choked and returned unrelated responses or more questions.

I'm not clear on the relationship between Wolfram and the websites from which it scrapes its knowledge, it doesn't drive traffic to those sites and therefore the clicks and page views which they need to draw advertisers won't happen. Cue the sound of failing sites.

I'm sure its an interesting experiment but I'll stick with Google, thanks.

Palm Pre Price Revealed

Softsailor has used the announcement of a Palm Pre competition and the required legal documents to uncover the likely contract-free price of the Pre in the States: $542, which equates to around £360 on a straight conversion. Of course we never get straight conversion when these things cross the Atlantic and its also likely that the GSM Pre will have its own price premium to labour under.

Nonetheless, its likely that the UK SIM-Free price will be around the £400 mark, not too terrible and suggesting that contract deals will bring that price down to free. All that remains is to see which network lands the Pre. Vodafone now offer Windows Mobile, Blackberry and Android platforms, I think its highly unlikely they'll be interested in a fourth. Orange doesn't seem to be in the game with its current offerings and T-Mobile's financial troubles may preclude a deal. Three don't seem to be pursuing a smartphone strategy, preferring to push Skype based promotions on Symbian handsets…

How Good Is The Pre? Hopefully This Good

Recent rumours are putting the US launch of the Pre in the first week in June, which, if true, is very good news for the company and those who are waiting with baited breath, credit card at the ready, hoping to get their hands on one.

Someone who has had their hands on one is Prethinking's Tony Peric and in this brief review he paints an incredibly positive picture of a truly compelling device. Of course the name of the website suggests that there may be the smallest hint of bias - but I'm going to take it at face value and now I'm even more excited about the prospect of a UK launch.

Here's hoping Palm don't make us wait too long

Expenses-gate... Why Are You Surprised?

So Britain's MPs, not content with giving themselves repeated above-average pay-rises, have been fiddling their expenses outrageously... why the surprise? Politicians as a group are the least trustworthy, most self-serving people in existence.

To quote Douglas Adams "It is a well-known fact that those people who want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it... anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job"

Short of a complete change in the electoral system its time to accept that the political class spend their time with their snouts in the trough, whatever their initial good intentions. If this comes as a surprise can I refer you to George Orwell's Animal Farm, a cracking good read and educational too.

Dirty, Dirty Money

Banks and other financial institutions aren't known for making great ads, this one cracked me up though. Definitely not safe for work or the young but a must-see otherwise...

Toshiba TG01 Looking Good For June

This Pocket PC Italia hands-on with a late prototype of the forthcoming TG01 would indicate that Tosh have finally hit gold with its Pocket PC line and the Snapdragon powered unit really does make Windows Mobile fly. The UI for the front end looks like it works too, making the likely omission of WM 6.5 much easier to bear. Likely European landing date is in June, putting it head to head with the Palm Pre and iPhone releases. Interesting times.

Villeneuve-Arnoux, Dijon 1979

I suppose its only fair, having mentioned the Dijon 1979 race in my previous post to share a video of the battle between Villeneuve and Arnoux in those legendary last two laps. Enjoy.

Villeneuve, Spain 1981 - Pure Genius

Part of the BBC's new package of F1 coverage includes a feature which allows BBC website users to vote for their favourite classic race from the archives at each Grand Prix. This weekend's Spanish GP produced a vote for Gilles Villeneuve's incredible 1981 victory, leading home a train of cars having fended them off for more than half the race in a Ferrari that can only be described as a turbo-charged tractor. That this was Gilles' last victory and today is the 27th anniversary of his death is enough of an excuse to link to the BBC highlights program for the race, unfortunately only available to UK based browsers.

Gilles achievements don't look exceptional from bare statistics alone, yet anyone who saw him drive will regale you with stories of unfathomable achievements in cars of dubious quality. My favourite memories are of those crazy last laps at Dijon in 1979, wet qualifying at Watkins Glen and of course this race at Jarama in '81. A pure racer who probably w…

Launchy - Your UMPC/Netbook's New Best Friend

UMPC users have to make some compromises to enable them to enjoy their very niche form factor, one of which is a reduced screen resolution, a problem which also afflicts netbook owners, particularly when web browsing - the number one use for these machines.

So how about a launcher which allows you to hide your taskbar and run Firefox in permanent fullscreen mode, eking out every last pixel's worth of screen real estate?

Launchy, an open source launcher turns the concept of the graphical interface on its head by giving you access to a keyboard shortcut to a command line. Not just any command line though, this is intelligent, Launchy parses your start menu to find all your applications and will offer suggestions as you type. If you start Launchy from within Firefox you'll find that your bookmarks have been parsed too, allowing you to go to pages without toolbars and menus.

On UMPC's with keyboards this is a must have utility.

Goodbye 3D Realms, Duke Nukem Forever

So 3D Realms has gone down the tubes leaving behind a legacy which will hopefully never be matched. The Duke Nukem developer has now spent more than 12 years working on its near mythical follow up Duke Nukem Forever. Unless someone buys the rights to the title its unlikely that we'll ever see this game hit the shelves and to be honest would you really want a game that started development when the Pentium processor was king and Windows 95 was the OS of choice?

Just how bad/easily distracted do you have to be take twelve years over a piece of software anyway?

Kindle DX Moves Even Further Into The Niche

I'm not a big fan of hardware eBook readers, given their serious limitations when compared to both real books and software readers on other multi-purpose devices. The introduction of the new Kindle DX seems to bring an even less useful version of the concept.

Don't get me wrong, if you're going to have a device of this sort you may as well get the biggest one that will fit into your bag/case because you sure aren't going to be toting one around town tucked under your arm. The Kindle is probably a perfect device for education and libraries but 90% or more students are going to be better served with a netbook/cheapaptop and an iPod Touch, for the same money they'll get two infinitely more capable devices.

The only place that I've seen eBook reader hardware in real world use is at two libraries on sites my team supports. They're used for distributing medical journals to reading groups and, after some initial enthusiasm, have been rejected wholesale by the users …

TUAW Hackb00k Fail Isn't

Here's a bizarre article from The Unofficial Apple Weblog about trying OS X on a Dell Mini 9. Steven Sande installed the Apple operating system on the netbook over six months ago and recently gave up on the combo, announcing that the Dell was listed on eBay.

Reading through his article its hard to see how his criticisms of the Dell can be considered valid - in fact the cause of the majority of his problems seem to stem from a bad decision he made when purchasing the Dell.

Those criticisms tend to fall into four categories: multitouch works erratically, some apps don't work within the confines of the netbook's 1024 x 600 resolution screen, the keyboard was too small and there wasn't enough space on the hard disk. The latter certainly reads as the article's biggest beef, closely followed by the keyboard size. Which is strange because Steven made the decision to buy a 16 GB SSD rather than a much larger hard disk. In a more normally configured setup that wouldn't ha…

Electric Car Numbers Don't Add Up

Apart from the dubious environmental merits of manufacturing and then disposing of large numbers of highly toxic batteries the argument for electric vehicles doesn't add up financially either.

Citroen have brought an all-electric version of its C1 city car to the UK and at 70 miles per charge and around £1 per charge it looks an attractive proposition, until you see the price tag. With no government subsidy for electric vehicles for two years the electric C1 will set you back more than £16,000 - or nearly £10,500 more than the petrol version.

With petrol at 95p per litre at the moment and the C1 getting better than 60mpg its going to be an awful long time before the electric version begins to make financial sense.

For the average user, buying the car and doing 10,000 miles a year over three years with the electric version is going to cost the thick end of £17,500 whilst the petrol version is going to be around £9,000. The electric version is going to have to retain an awful large ch…

Shock - America Discovers Loud Noise Damages Hearing

This story at jkontherun says everything about American lawyers and an awful lot about the American legal system. Not that I'm saying our own is much better but I don't think this sort of thing could happen over here. A class action lawsuit was brought against numerous bluetooth headset manufacturers for failing to warn against the damage to hearing that might (or might not) ensue from having loud volume on a bluetooth headset. The defendants settled out of court to avoid an expensive legal battle and an award of $100,000 was agreed. However because of the cost of distributing this money its being given to charity instead.

Which doesn't sound too bad, until you find out that legal costs then add up to around $2 million...

So the lawyers get richer, beleagured manufacturers lose valuable capital and if there is anyone out there who actually has had their hearing damaged by an overly loud bluetooth headset they've now lost any legal recourse to compensation.

Madness, comple…

Palm Pre Could be DOA, Palm Just Dead is reporting a worrying report on Palm and the forthcoming Pre from market analyst Ashok Kumar. The important information in the article is that Palm have been having multiple hardware and software issues and has subsequently dramatically reduced orders in the supply chain - suggesting that the Pre could be late and probably won't hit the million device sales required. There's also the confirmation that the money will run out in two quarters, making the Pre an absolute make or break device for the company, unless Elevation are in a position to raise even more funding.

Given the levels of anticipation being generated by the Pre this is incredibly bad news - demos and videos have suggested that WebOS can be a real contender. It may well be that Palm has overstated its position by claiming a June launch...

The only bright point from the article is that the Bank of America disagrees with this position and has set a 'buy' rating for Palm's shares.

Things must be ver…

F1 Without Ferrari - Unthinkable?

The governing body of F1 - the FIA - has effectively told Ferrari to take a walk if they don't like the new rules planned for 2010, the sport being bigger than one team. I don't think so and I wonder what would happen if Ferrari called their bluff?

No disrespect to teams like Force India, Brawn and Red Bull but nobody really gives a hoot about them. F1 is about Ferrari and Mclaren, with Williams somewhere thereabouts. Between them these three team's drivers have won all but six of the last thirty-four drivers championships. No other team on the grid has participated for more than seven years and were you to take out the big three the remainder would look and sound like a glorified club racing championship.

Look at the hole in the sport that the collapse of Lotus left, the black and gold Lotus of the seventies and early eighties was iconic, their loss bad for the sport. Without its history F1 has no more kudos than any of the other single seater categories which surround it.


New Samsung UMPC Looks Like A Retrograde Step

Samsung's newest Q1 has started to get into the hands of reviewers, however even with some size and performance improvements I believe that the cost in lost features make it a worse choice than the Q1u.

Chippy at UMPC Portal summed up the Q1Ex very well when he called it the 20% device: " 20% less weight, 20% less cost, 20% more GPU, 20% more battery life, 20% better looking!!", although what doesn't get mentioned is the 50% less usability.

The Q1u's mouse controller and user definable key pad make getting around the interface as easy as any standard notebook, even a user who hasn't seen a trackpoint mouse before would grasp the concept straightaway. The split keyboard takes a bit longer to get used to, but after a little bit of practice soon becomes second nature, after continued use 'muscle memory' of key positions develops and there's no need to look at the keyboard for key locations. It soon becomes indispensable and entering passwords, tweets, …

Netbooks Are Junk?

Stand-in CEO at Apple, Tim Cook, denounced Netbooks as junk and denied that Apple would be joining the race to the bottom by launching an OS X powered version of their own. Given that Net-books sit in the £150-£350 range and that the cheapest Apple portable is over £700 that's not a difficult position for him to take. Is he right? No, in fact the truth is somewhat different.

Netbooks sit in a special place in the portable pecking order - smaller and cheaper than most notebooks, less powerful but with much better battery run times. Despite the apparently lowly specs, performance is generally excellent, thanks largely to the special dispensation from Microsoft which allows them to run XP rather than the much more resource-hungry Vista.

Whatever Apple says about Windows, XP remains a strong OS, with 100% software and hardware compatibility. The selection of included software on Netbooks is generally pretty good and its hard to see how an Apple machine could change the market, other th…

Ayrton Senna, 15 Years On

Its hard to believe that fifteen years have passed since that fateful May afternoon at Imola. When Ayrton Senna's Williams hit the wall at the Tamburello corner the impact rang around the world.

Formula One had lost heroes before, even champions, but never live on primetime TV with an audience of millions. I can still remember the profound sense of shock that Sunday, the instant knowledge that this was a fatal accident (perhaps influenced by the death of Roland Ratzenberger the previous day) and the effect that it had on me in the following days and weeks.

Ayrton Senna was a genius inside the car and a deeply religious and compassionate man outside it. His loss changed racing forever and for that reason his exploits should never be forgotten. Rest in peace.