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Showing posts from August, 2009

F1: Machiavelli Alive And Plotting

A very small piece apended to the reports of some Belgian Grand Prix happenings was the news that the FIA are investigating claims of a suspicious nature relating to a previous event.

It looks like that is that Singapore night race of last season, where Brazilian TV station Globo is reporting Nelson Piquet Jr. was ordered to crash and bring out the safety car at the moment that best suited team mate Fernando Alonso's strategy. Alonso went on to win.

If this is true it has serious implications - the timing of the safety car had major impacts for a number of drivers - Massa could justifiably claim that the pitstop chaos cost him the championship, whilst others will point to seriously affected races - Raikonen, Kubica and others.

Can the FIA change the result retrospectively? Yes but that would only mean handing the race to another driver who benefited from the safety car that resulted. Declaring the race void was also change the destination of the driver's title so can't happen…

Lies, Damn Lies And Statistics

Want a prime example of how bare numbers can be woefully misrepresented and then those misrepresentations can be repeated to become accepted truth? Have a look at the Canalys numbers for Q2 2009.

The headline story is that Apple and RIM have battered Windows Mobile's market share to under 10% - down a huge amount over 2008's numbers whilst Apple's share has risen a remarkable 600%.

Both are of course bullshit numbers being repeated by people who should know better and show that Canalys's qualities as market analysts are hugey suspect.

Q2 2008 was a bonus year for Windows Mobile, hitting record sales figures in every quarter. All that has happened has been a retraction back to its previous sales numbers. So by looking at anything more than just one quarter's year on year figures would give a much better idea of the real position.

Conversely in Q2 2008 Apple's original iPhone had hit a sales dead end and everyone was awaiting the arrival of the 3G version so its not …

Copilot 8 And TP2 Not A Good Match

Installed Copilot 8 onto my TP2 for the journey down through France - its listed on the compatibility chart so I wasn't expecting too much in the way of problems with the combo. But before I'd even reached the Channel Tunnel things were going wrong - first of all Copilot 8 seemed to think I was driving 5m to the left of the road I was on and took some time to correct itself. Then it decided to lose GPS connectivity - losing all usefulness for tracking.

At this point I decided to give up and swapped to the Palm Treo Pro I usually use for work whilst on the Shuttle through the tunnel. A well-spent bit of time as both issues have been completely absent on the Treo.

Interesting to note that Copilot itself seemed to suffer some serious routing issues which would have caused major problems if I hadn't known they were spurious and ignored them. The detour around a French retail park looked particularly exciting I thought, but not enough to risk following just to see how it planed o…

Touch Reading On Windows Mobile

One of the main uses for my smartphone is reading eBooks - in fact I don't think I've read a 'made from trees' book since the 20th Century. I was even recently (mis)quoted in a recent Library Service Journal as saying that libraries were dead.

Windows Mobile has a number of choices when it comes to eBook software, but the arrival of recent devices without a d-pad has rendered them all pretty useless. However if, like me, you have one of these devices and are still intent on using it as an eBook reader can I suggest that Mobipocket Reader works very well indeed with only very minimal tweaking. Specifically if you go to Menu.. Options.. and change the settings for Default Selection Action to 'None' you'll find that tapping to change pages works perfectly. Right hand side of the screen moves forward and left hand side takes you backward.

My Name Is Luca...

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Poor Luca Badoer, one of the most promising young drivers of the early nineties who had his prospects snuffed out by a succession of ropey cars and some bad fortune.

Even when it seemed his chance had arrived he missed out through no fault of his own: in 1999 when Michael Schumacher broke his leg at Silverstone Luca could reasonably have expected to get a run in a race seat as Ferrari's test driver and official reserve. However Ferrari, fearful of the backlash in the Italian press if they were forced to ask an Italian driver to give up a victory for an Irishman, chose Mika Salo instead. The Finn duly handed victory to Irvine in Germany and Ferrari's decision was somewhat vindicated.

Now ten years on Luca has finally been rewarded for his loyalty to the team - twelve years as a test driver - and will race at Valencia as Michael Schumacher's, sorry Felipe Massa's substitute and the poor guy is still being crucifed in the press. F1's current rent-a-gob Niki Lauda criti…

I Always Said Shaun Knew His Stuff

Shaun over at PDA-247 has published a post straight from left-field. If you'd spent much time on the site recently you'd say he's a Blackberry Man, who could be tempted by Symbian; whilst all the while battling his inner demons telling him to use an iPhone.

This post comes like a bolt from the blue then: 'When you think about it Windows Mobile Is Best'.

Now I'm very much in agreement with everything that Shaun says in the post, especially the points about flexibility and choice. The suggestion that Microsoft's biggest challenge in those areas will come from Android and HTC is absolutely spot on too.

For the moment though choice is definitely Windows Mobile's big selling point. To paraphrase Apple: 'Want a front mounted keyboard and touchscreen? There's a device for that; Want a touchscreen only? There's a device for that; Want a sliding keyboard? There's a device for that too... only on Windows Mobile...

Only One? How Do I Decide?

In a few days time I'll be off on a (well-deserved) holiday... Two weeks of bliss away from the day to day grind.

Of course whilst I'm away I won't be using my smartphone any less - it will still be my eBook reader, MP3 player, sat-nav and camera. Which means that I now have to decide which one to take.

I'd probably be well served by any of my armoury of smartphones... But I'm still going to suffer the anxiety of making sure I get the right one.

Being realistic the choice comes down to the Touch Pro 2, Xperia X1 or Treo Pro - all fine devices. Even the devices not in the running - the iPhone 3G and XDA Zest - would cope admirably if push came to shove.

The combination of big screen, great keyboard and fantastic sound output means that the TP2 is the smartphone I'll take with me. Here's hoping its the right choice.

HTC Advantage As An eBook Reader, No Thanks

James Kendrick, of the popular jkontherun website, is currently suggesting that the HTC Advantage makes a good eBook reader. Now there are a lot of things I think you could usefully use the Advantage for, but none of them involve turning the thing on; two are tools for self-defence.

The Advantage could be the poster child for the bad place that HTC and Windows Mobile were in before the iPhone arrived and gave them the pointers back to where a Smartphone platform should be aiming.

If you have an Advantage then I suggets you retrieve it from your old device pile (I can't believe that anyone still uses one) and try it. Marvel at the size, weight and bizarre profile; the poor balance and abysmal performance will likely bring back bad memories too... Now imagine using this as an eBook reader. Not a winning proposition I suspect. Rather give up an inch or two of screen size for a significantly better user experience? Thought so.

Let's face it, almost everyone who used the Advantage or …

F1: Renault European GP Ban Overturned

Common-sense seems to be breaking out all through F1 in the most uncharacteristic way. This time its the draconian penalty applied to the Renault team after its Hungarian pitstop disaster which is in question. The team were banned for the European Grand Prix for a number of alleged offences following Fernando Alonso's lost wheel, which many felt were a knee-jerk reaction as a result of the terrible injuries suffered by Felipe Massa and the death of Henry Surtees.

When I spoke to the team a few weeks ago they were confident that they had a good defence against the allegations but were concerned over the track record of appeals with the FIA. Seems like those concerns were unfounded as the appeal has been accepted and Renault will race in Valencia after all.

Now I'm expecting something miraculous from Fernando for his fans - and I'm expecting a last minute rush for tickets after the stop-go of Schumacher's return. A win? That might be asking a bit much even for Alonso, but …

Football: The Goal That Never Was

Calls for goal-line technology are sure to increase after a bizarre incident in the Championship game between Bristol City and Crystal Palace. Palace had a perfectly good goal disallowed after none of the four officials saw the ball hit the back of the net and none of the Bristol City players decided to admit the fact.

Neil Warnock, Palace's manager, was still barely coherent with anger when interviewed on the BBC about eight hours later... probably not helped by City scoring a late winner to consign his team to defeat.

Hopefully we'll start to see some movement on the FA, Football League and FIFA's part to allow technology to stop this sort of thing from happening. Its not the first time something like this has happened - in fact Palace suffered a similar incident in the eighties.

And whilst I can't help but feel sorry for Palace fans, for Neil Warnock all I can say is: it couldn't have happened to a more deserving man.

Murray On The Move

I'm sure you're already a fan (but if not you'll soon become one) so you may already know that Murray over at PalmMac has been moving to a new server this weekend... Shame he forgot to tell anyone his new address... Oops! So if you're looking for plenty of iPhone App reviews, PDA opinions and you'd like to see just how miserable being an Aberdeen fan can make you(!) then I suggest you update your bookmarks to point to http://palmmac.wordpress.com/

Good luck in your new 'home' Murray...

Necessity Is The Mother Of... Decision

Having been rather unkind to the HTC Touch Pro 2 at times, its probably something of a surprise to hear (okay, read) me tell you that its now my daily driver. More so to find that its grown on me and (with a little tweaking) I actually would pick it up through choice.

Would pick it up through choice? Yes, but at the moment the TP2 is actually the only smartphone that I can comfortably use, having injured my right thumb last weekend. Not sure whether the TP2 will still be my first choice when I've got the full use of my right hand, but for now I'm glad to have it.

In Defence Of The NHS

I tried to justify not writing this post - its hardly relevant to this blog's usual content, after all - but in the end my conscience wouldn't allow me to stay silent.

Barack Obama's healthcare reform plans have caused some of America's right wing politicians to attack the NHS as it appears to be the model that he wishes to emulate. And whilst I have no interest in what Healthcare system eventually prevails on the other side of the pond (America will get the healthcare system America deserves) these attacks have been based on so much misinformation, blatant deceit and manipulation that the British population has been spurred into action to defend its record. Anyone who knows the British population will tell you what a incredibly rare thing that is... For several days now #welovetheNHS has been a trending topic on Twitter as people report their experiences and gratitude for the service.

Its understandable that people in other countries find the NHS confusing, especially t…

Office Mobile For Symbian Further Dilutes Windows Mobile

So Nokia and Microsoft have announced that Office Mobile will arrive on Symbian, bringing a number of key enterprise benefits to the platform, most notably Sharepoint integration for mobile users.

Tied to the freely available Exchange Activesync support it means that two of Windows Mobile's key advantages have been sold out from under it. Clearly Microsoft have a bigger need to own the enterprise space than the mobile one.

I suspect that this amounts to a fatal blow to Windows Mobile as we know it today, future versions are likely to be much closer to the Zune HD than the smartphones we know now. The Toshiba TG01 seems to heading down that road already.

Maybe its time to jump ship. Good thing the Pre isn't too far away and Android is starting to offer the sort of choice that was reserved for Windows Mobile users previously.

What Are Microsoft & Nokia Planning?

Here's something bizarre, Microsoft and Nokia are planning a joint press conference for tomorrow, begging the question what can have happened to bring these two to the table together?

A Nokia phone running Windows Mobile seems inconcievable, Microsoft buying into open source projects like Maemo and Symbian is completely out of character and that leaves us with some kind of push email announcement (unlikely given Symbian's historic Activesync support) or an Atom powered Netbook, according to Engadget anyway...

I'd like to think that a press event of this magnitude heralds some rather more interesting though... Something out of left field which will catch the competition cold would be very nice...

F1: Go Luca Go

Looks like the demands of modern Grand Prix cars were just too much for the injured neck of Michael Schumacher and as a result Luca Badoer will make his Ferrari debut, just a few months short of a decade since his last race.

Now if anyone deserves a bit of luck its Luca, who's never scored a Championship point before having been mired in back of the grid teams all through his career. The European Grand Prix of 1999 marked the high and low points of his career to date. Guiding an outclassed Minardi to the point of a podium finish only for it to fail within sight of the flag must have been heartbreaking.

I can't imagine we'll see anything mindblowing but it would be nice to see some points against the name of Badoer...

Dell Smartphone Imminent - For China Anyway

Seems like Engadget have uncovered details of Dell's upcoming smartphone on Chinese website Netease. Its an Ophone powered device (and therefore unlikely to appear outside of China) but it is a sign that Dell now feels ready to dabble in the piranha filled smartphone water.

Will this mean a return of the Axim line to the European market? I suspect not. Unless Dell can come up with something completely amazing running on Android or Windows Mobile they aren't going make any return on their efforts - especially with established smartphone names like HTC and Nokia pushing the bar ever higher in their battle to unseat the iPhone. HP's struggles should nicely signpost the problems that Dell would have with developing a name in the marketplace.

Building yet another 'average' phone is just not going to be worth Dell's trouble.

F1: Nelsinho Denies Sauber Rumours

In an interview with digital Terra magazine Nelson Piquet Jr. has put the brakes on rumours that his triple World Champion father is looking to buy the Sauber team in order to resurrect his sons career. Which of course is not the same thing as denying that he is interested in buying it at all, however having failed to sign the new Concorde Agreement the team has turned its back on millions of pounds worth of benefits and prize money, making the job of anyone coming in that much harder.

Nelsinho is probably looking down the end of his F1 career though, unless his father/sponsors can place him with one of the new teams for next season. Which seems entirely unfair when you look at the performances of Jensen Button and Mark Webber this season, two drivers who have seriously underachieved for many years now...

Era Defining Director John Hughes Dies

For anybody who went through their teens in the 80s the movies of John Hughes were cult viewing. Films he directed like The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Sixteen Candles form a part of our generation's cultural legacy, not to mention more general viewing classics like Planes, Trains and Automobiles and (as a writer) National Lampoon's Vacation.

Hughes has died after apparently suffering a heart attack whilst out walking on vacation in Manhattan. I suggest that a rousing listen to Simple Minds "Don't You Forget About Me" would be an appropriate send-off...

F1: Schumacher Return Not Guaranteed

Looks like The Comeback may not be happening after all. Michael Schunacher's neck injury - caused by falling off a motorbike - is giving him some problems and may prevent him from racing in Valencia, maybe at Spa too. Which is going to be a big disappointment for the thousands of fans rushing to buy tickets for both events.

Probably not as big a disappointment as that that will be experienced by Schumacher, Ferrari and Bernie Ecclestone. Ferrari have put all their eggs in the Schumacher basket and if he isn't going to be able to race whoever comes in to replace him is going to be starting from absolute zero on Friday in Valencia.

I'm thinking that Bourdais should be put on standby - or maybe Piquet who is also now on the market. Both have experience of this years cars and, in Bourdais' case, the Ferrari engine that powers the F60. Neither will come close to Schumacher's draw and the attention his return is generating.

Microsoft Linked With Palm Buyout

Not sure of the source of these rumours, but it appears that they're gaining pace and plenty of coverage. Having just completed its long drawn out Yahoo tie-up whispers are that Microsoft are looking to snap up Palm to bolster its flagging smartphone division.

As Windows Mobile posted a year on year sales increase and comfortably outsold the iPhone last financial year I'm not altogether convinced that the smartphone division is flagging, especially with two new versions of the OS due in the next year.

However lets look at the motivation behind such a deal. Palm is cheap to buy right now, even after the boost that the Pre has given to its market cap. Its also got a product which is seen as a valid competitor to the iPhone as well as having a solid base of loyal customers. Those good points have to be weighed against the difficulty (conceptually anyway) of Microsoft selling a Linux based OS. Never mind the work required to convert it into a form that can be easily sold to its har…

Shock Horror: Out Of Court Settlement Comes With Non-disclosure Clause

Well would you believe it, a Liverpool family had their iPod Touch explode (after it had been dropped mind) and Apple agreed to refund its purchase on the agreement of a standard non-disclosure clause. Somehow this has been morphed into a gagging order by the family involved and the red tops.

What utter garbage. Exactly what were Apple trying to gag? The fact that they refunded an item of electronic equipment that had failed after being subjected to an impact when legally they probably had no need to do so? Wow that's going to have the legislators rocking... Or not.

Lets face it, this is a non-story. Lithium based batteries are more volatile than other types, at worst Apple could be accused of not making that clear in their user instructions. To be honest though anyone who drops electronic equipment is going to be lucky if they come away damage free. We all do it. Not all of us moaning to the press about it though...

F1: Piquet Axed, Headed For Sauber

As expected Nelson Piquet has been axed from his seat in the Renault team, Roman Grosjean is expected to replace him whenever the Renault team is allowed back to race.

Piquet aimed some pretty fierce criticism at former manager Flavio Briatore, claiming a lack of support and almost constant threats from 'the executioner'.

Piquet may not be out of the sport for long though as his father is looking to lead a takeover of the BMW-Sauber operation, there are no prizes for guessing who'll be the team's lead driver...

F1: Schumacher Test Vetoed

Unsurprisingly Ferrari's request to allow Michael Schumacher to test the 2009 car has been vetoed by both Williams and Red Bull. The rules are pretty clear on the subject: no in-season testing.

Neither Jaime Algersuari nor Roman Grosjean got dispensation and Schumacher has significantly more experience than either.

Assuming that continued pounding around Mugello in a 2007 car doesn't expose any fitness problems for Schumacher the first time he'll drive the F60 will be in free practice at Valencia. Should be interesting.

HTC Ships Touch Pro 2 Hotfixes

HTC have shipped two hotfixes for the TP2, the first addressing a problem with TouchFlo3D where the + sign couldn't be used in SMS messages. The second fixes a delay in GPS signal acquisition. Neither of these problems has affected mine, although I have been running it without TouchFlo3D for a while now.

Now if they can just work out a way of addressing the phone's other issues I'll be very pleased. So, I'd like a hotfix for the poorly positioned and overly sensitive power button; the bar of soap finish, which has me dropping it on a regular basis; the softkeys which are invariably activated when switching from landscape to portrait mode and more which I won't mention here...

Skype Close To Shutdown

Looks like Skype's 480 million users could soon be soon hunting around
for a new service provider after the world's biggest VoIP provider
lost a licensing agreement with Joltid - owned by it's original
founders.eBay's plans to float the company look to be in serious jeopardy too -
after all with no service to offer it's unlikely that it's significant
revenues are going to keep pouring in.Whether Skype can agree a new license in time to save it's service
remains to be seen, but even if it can I'd imagine that the terms will
be financially unpleasant.

FCC Begins Apple/Google Investigation

Well Apple's decision to reject Google's Voice app (and remove third party apps which enabled Google Voice services) hasn't taken long to interest the FCC. Apple and AT&T have both received letters from the regulatory body asking for an explanation whilst Google has also been asked for its input.

Will Apple be forced to open its app store to all comers or provide access to third party app stores? It will be interesting to see how much of an appetite the FCC has for regulating application sales in the monopoly that Apple enjoys.