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Showing posts from April 28, 2009

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

FT.com 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?

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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.

T…

New Samsung UMPC Looks Like A Retrograde Step

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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

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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.

Spotify Could Mean The End Of Crap Albums

How often have you bought the new album from an artist who you've enjoyed in the past only to find that its loaded with filler, dross and only a couple of decent tracks. Or worse its just complete crap? Its happened to me plenty of times in the past but Spotify and similar services are going to find out those artists, as buyers can get a real feel for an album before ever needing to lay out any money for it. No need to believe the review of a possibly biased music journo, now every release is available for test drive to every potential buyer.

The game keeps changing for the music industry and the power is shifting away from the big businesses that have had a stranglehold for so long and towards the consumer. And the artists? There are real opportunities to take back control from the man, if they're brave enough to reach out and take them.

A-pork-alypse Now

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So Swine Flu has crossed into the UK, giving the press another chance to air the nightmare scenario, scaremongering journalism that last blighted us when Avian Flu raised its head a few years back. If ever there was a case for retrospective punishment for bad journalism this is a prime candidate. Speaking to a member of our local Disaster Management team it sounds like the hype has already started to hit home - having already fielded requests for several thousand face masks from what would normally be sensible people.

Lets get this into some kind of perspective. Every year a flu epidemic kills between 250,000 and 500,000 people a year worldwide (WHO figures) - this is usually classed as an epidemic. In the past there have been a number of pandemics, where death tolls have been tens of millions (Spanish Flu, 1918) or 1-1.5million (Asian Flu, 1957 and Hong Kong Flu, 1968). Thus far we have a death toll from H1N1 (aka Swine Flu) of around 100.

Should Swine Flu develop into an pandemic then…

New Omnia To Sport Sliding Keyboard

Samsung's decision to keep the Omnia branding for Windows Mobile devices suggested that we'd be seeing more touchscreen devices from them.

Looks like the first of those will be arriving soon as the Omnia Pro, sporting heavily upgraded specs, like a faster processor, WVGA screen and a landscape sliding keyboard.

This sounds like interesting competition for the Touch Pro 2 and proved that Windows Mobile remains the platform of choice if you want choice in your hardware.

Launch is slated for June, which sounds like a busy month for smartphones, with both new iPhone and Palm's Pre likely to appear as well.