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Showing posts from July, 2010

F1: A Rant About Team Orders And Morons

If you've started reading this post in the hope that you will find me fuming at the 'duplicity' of Ferrari and the leniency with which the FIA treats them I suggest you stop reading now. Thank you for visiting, perhaps one of my (marginally) more lucid posts would be a better introduction to this blog.

I am sick to death of the continual whining and whingeing which 'Johnny come lately' F1 fans indulge in everytime something they don't like happens. Team orders? They've been a part of F1 for every one of its sixty years and if you think they are wrong and a travesty then can I kindly suggest you go and watch something more suited to your clearly substandard capacity to understand, perhaps mini-golf or Connect Four would be a more appropriate choice of spectator sport.

Sure it was unfortunate that Felipe Massa was required to change positions with team mate Fernando Alonso but Ferrari spend tens of millions of pounds each year to win championships and re-arrang…

One Device To Rule Them All

If you're a heavy technology adopter like myself you probably have a couple of smartphones, a netbook, a laptop, an MP3 player and maybe even a tablet of some sort. Given a particular task or job to complete and equitable access to each there's probably a moment when you have to decide which is the most appropriate device to use.

I think Dell has found the sweet spot with the Streak, its the one device that can be your single choice for pretty much any situation. Which is why I think Apple will be launching a 5" screened iPad/iPod Touch as soon as it can.

Irrespective of whether the Streak is a good or bad device the niche it occupies is right where you want your ultimate choice to be. Small enough to have with you all the time, big enough to use. The difference in capability when compared with even a 4" smartphone has to be experienced its not something that can be related easily. Of course its pretty big to use as a phone, but not significantly more so than current s…

Phone Security Concerns

Two pieces of news which should have alarm bells ringing for smartphone owners today. Firstly Gizmodo is reporting that Apple's iPhones have been found to send huge amounts of data back to Apple on a nightly basis. Some reports put the figure as high as 75Mb every night. Why would Apple want this information and how would they cope with that volume of data? This really need confirmation one way or the other. Presumably if true, this data will be part of the capped limit for users data plans.

Secondly Android owners have been warned about rogue wallpaper applications which could potentially access more data than they have any right to. The developer has issued a denial of any wrong-doing however its behaviour in the Android marketplace doesn't present its operation in a good light

There's a clear message here: smartphones are now at risk of compromise in the same way as desktop computers and the same precautions used on the desktop are now necessary when installing software o…

Motorola's Having A Laugh... At Apple's Expense!

Now even the biggest iPhone fanboi has to admit this is pretty funny...
I am thinking that its time for Apple to stop trying to justify its problems by attacking other manufacturers and for their competitors to stop pinging out these sort of adverts. However, as Apple hasn't shown any sign of the former I guess we can't blame Motorola, Samsung, et al for responding in kind...

Android Tablets Will Power Libraries Of The Near Future

Libraries are a strong symbol of community, making knowledge available to everyone and anyone at a cost shared by all. The library of today faces a number of interesting challenges, not least the impact of techology on the publishing industry.

Last week Amazon announced that eBooks outsell print books by a significant margin in its web store. It was also announced that the rights holders of a number of classic works have disenfranchised their publishers and signed contracts directly with Amazon to distribute those works electronically. And of course we have any number of authors completely bypassing the printed word to self-distribute their work via the internet.

How are libraries going to keep up when a greater and greater proportion of published work never reaches the printed page? By embracing technology, that's how.

Library managers need to start being clever about embracing technology though. The e-ink revolution has stalled and with fewer and fewer ebook readers being announced…

Football: New Season, New Protection Please

After a difficult World Cup its time to start gearing up for the new domestic season and hope for some changes being wrought in the wake of the injustices which played out through this summer's tournament.

The English game has been plagued with a shocking lack of support for flair players. Teams that play with skill and style find themselves the target of the roughhouse pressing game employed by some of the more workmanlike clubs enjoying a stay in the top division. The net result is that those players who we all pay to see end up getting kicked out of games and often onto the treatment table.

Its no surprise that Arsenal, traditionally the English team who play the most attractive football have suffered the most, with players suffering horrendous injuries far to often to be coincidence. Victims of the English 'they don't like it up them' attitude which seems to have transcended Dad's Army and entered the national psyche.

Its not just Arsenal who suffer though, is it…

Antenna-gate Still Raging

Having taken a reasonable stance on fixing antenna problems for its customers (albeit a clink one) you'd think that Apple would want to let the whole issue die down and get on with sorting out the problems properly before the white version ships sometime later this year, wouldn't you?

Apparently not though, as they've been pumping out more evidence of other phones suffering from attenuation issues. Now as I've said before this is just FUD being spread to try and muddy the waters and by making these accusations Apple is guilty of duplicity on a corporate level. And in taking this aggressive stance Apple is provoking its competitors to respond, both through corporate statements and advertising pitches which attack the iPhone.

Witness Samsung's three pronged attack this week, first a corporate statement refuting Apple's attack on the Omnia; then a press advert in several newspapers making fun of the iPhone's reception issues; and finally the clever use of Twitte…

Dell Streak Review

Anybody looking for an Android phone has an overwhelming choice of devices, I believe its one of the reasons why Android has taken off so quickly and is growing faster than any other mobile OS. The Dell Streak is being marketed as a tablet by Dell (and Apple's purchase of adwords for the iPad against Streak searches suggest they see it as one too) but realistically its much more of a jumbo smartphone, albeit one that could become a truer tablet when Dell pushes Android 2.2 onto it.

Starting at the beginning though, the Streak's hardware. When the screen is off the front of the device looks like one piece of shiny blackness - the sentinel from 2001 in pocket size. Turn the screen on and you're presented with 5" of LCD loveliness. The screen doesn't have a particularly high resolution and as a result the ppi isn't high, yet the screen manages to look great nonetheless and as I'll discuss later, Dell has put that extra real estate to good use when applying its…

iPhone 4 Antenna Fix

I should imagine that if Jonathan Ive were to clap eyes on this fix for the iPhone's antenna problems he'd have kittens on the spot. Still I can confirm that it is effective and resolves the previous problems with loss of signal completely.

The 'fix' consists of sellotape, tissue and a sharp pair of scissors.

My colleague who owns the iPhone has a dry sense of humour and I suspect that he will shortly be visiting the Apple Store in the Trafford Centre to explain how they can use this fix to resolve the problem on each iPhone before it passes to the customer...

Apple Lies Through Its Teeth

So Apple is excusing its iPhone 4 antenna problems by claiming that other phones are also affected by the problem. Which is a blatant lie and Apple know it.

There are two ways that signal from a cellphone can be affected by the human body. Absorbtion, which every phone suffers from to a greater or lesser extent. The reason for this is that the human body is basically a big bag of water - something that is very good at blocking a radio signal. Therefore if you shroud any phone with parts of your body signal will be affected.

However there's a second affect called de-tuning and can be achieved by physically touching the antenna surface. As there are no other phones with exposed antennae I can pretty much guarantee that no other phone will exhibit this problem. Simple test: put the tip of one finger anywhere on a competing phone. Now try it on an iPhone 4 in the bottom left corner where the antennae meet. Only one phone can show signal degradation. Why? Because contact with the antenna…

Microsoft Ramping Up Windows Phone 7 Rather Pointlessly

Its looking ever more likely that Microsoft and their partners will start to ship WP7 devices this Autumn and Microsoft are feeling pretty good about that. Various members of their senior management have been slipping 'facts' about the new OS and its features and there are several Microsoft twitter accounts pushing the same. Even Steve Balmer has had his say, claiming that Microsoft missed a generation with WP6.5.
Only problem is they had a strong platform and rather than pushing forward with their own agenda they started to attempt to cover Apple's moves with the iPhone - a losing strategy. With WP7 they're throwing out all the good things about Windows Mobile, all the strengths that it had (particularly in Enterprise) and have pretty much aped the iPhone completely. The number of missing functions is revealing of where Microsoft are going with this OS - and it isn't a good place.
No wonder then, that Windows Mobile fans are jumping ship. After all why go for a pale…

Toshiba TV Deal Causes Spanish Backlash

Here in England Toshiba ran a pretty amazing campaign before the World Cup: buy a TV and if England won the World Cup you'd get your money back. Pretty low risk advertising strategy you'd think.
Apparently not, for they also ran the promotion in Germany, Portugal, Italy and... Spain.
Suddenly not feeling so clever, eh Toshiba?
Not so fast though, Toshiba is limiting the offer to those televisions bought before the World Cup - they had to be registered by June 17th to qualify, something that was hidden away in the small print on the offer website rather than in the advertising itself. Result? Plenty of upset Spaniards expecting to get a free TV...
Reminds me very much of Hoover's comically badly thought out free flights offer, an error which caused the company no small amount of pain. Toshiba are probably in for plenty of that from their Spanish customers...

Consumer Reports: iPhone 4 Has Design Defect, Not Recommended

Well it looks like Apple's bullshit excuse for call problems has been found out... Consumer Reports, the US equivalent of the Consumer Association, put the iPhone 4 through some thorough scientific testing. The result? Every iPhone has a problem when held in the lower left corner.
Its not just bars on the display either (as Apple are claiming) as they measured significant loss of signal when held in this manner - enough to lose calls even in areas of average service coverage.
Will Apple address the issue properly? I don't think so. Apple fans will take the advice of Steve Jobs ('don't hold it that way') or buy a case and live with the issue. Others may look to refund their phones and move on elsewhere, however their numbers will be statistically insignificant and Apple will ride out the storm until its all forgotten at their next big product launch...

Dell Streak Battery - A New Smartphone High?

I've had the Streak for about a week now and thus far I'm pretty impressed. There's one area where I'm more impressed than anywhere else and that's the battery performance. The Streak packs quite a punch in the battery life stakes. You may remember the last Smartphone that I had which lead me to comment on battery life (here) when my then month old iPhone 3G was able to run 12 hours plus and have about a third of its battery remaining (according to Apple's own battery meter, we have of course subsequently found out that Apple aren't good at displaying accurate readings in this sort of thing but that's another story). Well check out the image below.
Yes that does say seventeen hours and 38 mins with 48% battery remaining - equating to about a 35 hour run time per charge. And that pretty much matches what I've found with the first few charges, if I take the Dell off charge in the morning it isn't going to need to go back again until late the follow…

Cruyff Shows Class, Current Dutch Team Exposes Their Lack Of It

"They were playing anti-football"

"Regrettably, sadly, they played very dirty. So much so that they should have been down to nine immediately, then they made two ugly and hard tackles that even I felt the damage"

Johann Cruyff's criticism of the 'football' played by the Dutch team and his disappointment that Howard Webb didn't dismiss two of his countrymen in the first-half says much about the man, whose love of the game transcends national boundaries. I suspect that had the Dutch won last night, the price of that victory would have been too much to stomach for Cruyff.

For his modern day counterparts however there has been a constant stream of whining - blaming everyone but themselves for the defeat. The ever more frenzied attacks on Howard Webb defy belief, errors in his refereeing were so weighted in the Dutch team's favour. Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin Van Persie are just three of the Dutch team running their mouths off. A whinging bu…

What The Fring Is Going On With Skype?

If you're a Fring user then its been a mixed up few days, iPhone 4 client and 3G video calling one day, loss of Skype connectivity the next. Now there's the inevitable fallout as the two companies dispute who has been guilty of what.

The upshot is that Fring users (primarily mobile users) lose out on video calling to Skype. Given the dismal state of Skype's own mobile clients - none of which have video support - that's a real blow.

So mobile users looking to enjoy the benefits of voice and video over IP will either need to convince their friends to move to Fring, use Facetime (Wifi and iPhone 4 only), switch to Three (voice only) or do a combination of all three.Skype and Fring need to sort their differences and quickly...

WorldCup: Spain Overcome Disgraceful Dutch

Outside of Holland there can be few who are disappointed with the result of yesterday's World Cup final, the game itself was a different matter though and I can't believe that the Dutch manager and some of his team have the audacity to complain about the performance of referee Howard Webb and his two assistants. If he had a failing at all it was in his incredibly lenient approach to the outright thuggery displayed by certain members of the Dutch team.

Looking at the positives though, the Spanish played some beautiful football and the touch and vision of players like Iniesta, Xavi and, well pretty much the rest of the side; was a joy to behold. At times Iniesta seemed to have the ball attached to his toes and the Dutch couldn't get near it. That he scored the winning goal was appropriate reward for a superb performance. In fact the answers to the problems of the English game probably lie in making this game compulsory regular viewing for young players and their coaches.

Can&#…

F1: Yamamoto For Senna, HRT Money Troubles Must Be Bad

Bruno Senna hasn't exactly set F1 alight this season but given the circumstances he's been doing a good job for HRT. So finding himself a spectator at Silverstone this weekend probably wasn't part of his plans. Such is the case though as his drive has been handed to Japanese no-hoper Sakon Yamamoto - a move that suggests that HRT are struggling for cash.

Its not unheard of and its disappointing when a driver with real talent has to make way for one with real funds but this season there's a bigger picture to consider. The speed differential between the front and the back of the grid is so great that putting a slow driver into a slow car could have disastrous consequences.

Mark Webber's Valencia accident should be all the warning that's required. Kovaleinen braked 80m earler than the Australian, causing an impact that flipped the Red Bull into a 190mph somersault. The results of that accident could have been tragically different if it had occurred in the vicinity o…

Will Apple Build An iPod Touch Maxi?

Apple has started to target searches for the Dell Streak on Google with iPad links appearing in paid results. That's an interesting strategy, are Apple trying to pre-empt an explosion in the Android tablet market by negatively impacting sales of the first such device?

After a few days with the Streak there are good reasons for Apple to sit up and take notice. Despite having a some niggles the Streak manages to hit a sweet spot in terms of size and usability - small enough to pocket and thumb type on, large enough to be a step up from smartphone in usability and viewability.

I suspect Apple will be gauging Dell's success with the Streak while it ponders a 5" device of its own.

iPod Touch Maxi or iPad Mini I'm not sure which approach to marketing works best but a smaller more portable iPad just has to be a business winner, doesn't it?

WorldCup: Total Football v The Netherlands

The Dutch are back in their first World Cup final for 32 years, the difference this time is that whereas we were in awe of the breathtaking brilliance of their total football, now most right right-thinking commentators are appalled at the thuggery employed by the Dutch central midfield of de Jong and (especially) Marc Van Bommel. Its beyond belief that Van Bommel hasn't picked up a red card in the tournament, his performances against the Brazilians and Uruguay warranted two in each game. The Dutch may have won every game on the way to the final but they've lost many friends along the way.

Spain on the other hand have been pretty dreadful - right up to the point where they met Germany in the semi-final. They even managed to lose their opening game to the Swiss. With the team that the Spanish can field they should have enough to dismantle the Dutch defence. As both the Portuguese and Paraguayans found out, it isn't possible to defend against the Spanish for a full 90 minutes …

That's John Lewis Off Steve Jobs Christmas Card List

Rob Hennesey, senior buyer for John Lewis has let slip details of the new iPod Touch in a presentation describing the retailer's forthcoming sales pitch. Several websites have picked up on the information, which previews a device which sounds like an iPhone 4 shorn of its GSM radios, leaving only the screen resolution in question.

Apple will no doubt be absolutely livid that one of its longest standing retail partners has slipped up in this way. No early sight of forthcoming products for Mr Hennesey in future I suspect...

World Cup: FIFA To Rethink Referees After South African Fiasco

The football rules body IAFB has announced that it will be examining the way that football is refereed following a number of high profile errors during the course of the 2010 World Cup. Whilst Sepp Blatter has suggested that technical solutions will be revisited the IAFB seem to be leaning towards additional assistant referees as a solution that can be provided across a greater spectrum of the game.

I'm glad that these investigations are taking place but at the same time I'm not so sure that I want to see the flow of the game interrupted whilst videos are consulted or the conflicting views of assistant referees are discussed.

And after all, isn't the occasional incorrect decision part of what gives the game its charm and supporters their after game arguments? England may have been soundly thrashed by Germany, hardly something that will live long in the memory once the teams are home from South Africa. Lampard's goal that never was however, will live on in infamy for gene…

Dell Streak First Impressions

As promised the Streak arrived today, from what I can gather part of a batch of unlocked Streaks which made it out into users hands today.

First impressions are exceptional, it feels like a really well made device and the big screen certainly makes a big impression - on gadget fiends anyway. In fact the two comments I've heard most this afternoon are: "its not as big as I thought it was" closely followed by "that screen is amazing"

The Streak came off a full charge just after 2pm, its now just after 10pm and I still have 70% battery remaining - I'm really not anticipating any problems making this device last a day on one charge... especially as the last three hours of that has been connected to wifi installing applications and configuring things like video calling with Fring...

Is it too big to use as an everyday phone? I don't know but I guess there's only one way to find out...

Dell Streak Arriving Tomorrow

After initial reservations about the positioning of the Dell Streak I was won over by extended handling of the demo unit in store. Its a nicely made piece of kit and that screen and more particularly the way that Dell has customised the UI that runs on it, do make it function as a tablet should. When Froyo and Flash arrive this will be something special.

Will I use it as a phone? Probably not all the time, but its likely to be the only device I carry during the week so there is the possibility of me having to use it as a mobile on rare occasions.

Anyway the nice man from Walsh Western should be dropping my SIM-free, direct from Dell Streak tomorrow. Be interesting to see how it compares size wise with some of the devices I have here...

Android Buyers Like Freebies

Android buyers don't go for paying for software apparently, or at least that's the conclusion of a story on a sales report on jkontherun.com.

Across the board 25% of software downloaded is free, whereas that figure rises to 57% for Android. Which sounds awfully low on both counts, I'd actually suggest that those figures should be more like 90% and 98% respectively.

Why do Android's buyers go for freebies more than other platforms. I'd guess its for a couple of reasons - the unavailability of paying apps in a number of geographic areas and the enthusiast led nature of the store: there are just so many quality apps which are either completely free or ad supported... there hasn't been the big software company charge into the market that there has been on the iTunes store for example.

I wonder if the arrival of iAds will change that, as software developers see the ongoing revenue potential of advertising funded software against the return from one time purchase fees.…

Where Have All The Blogs Gone?

I mean seriously these guys are dropping like flies. Not the corporate, big dollar blogs that are peppered with big buck advertising, its the little one man and an opinion blogs that are disappearing with alarming rapidity.

Of the thirty or so independent blogs I follow about half have either disappeared completely or are withering away without any recent updates; whilst half of the rest are posting so infrequently that the distinction is becoming difficult to make.

Is this the impact of micro-blogging sites like Twitter? Or perhaps a sign that people are running out of things to say? Perhaps its financial - the reward not covering the effort required?

Whatever the reason its worrying to see even a small loss of the independent voice just at the time when the web is collapsing towards commercial bitch-dom.

World Cup: A Day To Remember

Today was the first day of the quarter-finals and featured many people's favourites, Brazil. Anyone watching the first half of their game against Holland would have expected them to romp home comfortably. Unfortunately when you fail to turn that pressure into a substantial lead and in the second half the Dutch came right back at them and turned the game on its head to win 2-1. That the Dutch are the best side to never win the World Cup is a matter of record, can they turn that around and become the first European side to win the title outside of Europe...

They'll have to do it without influential midfielder Nigel de Jong, suspended after getting a second yellow card today.

Their opponents will be Uruguay who conquered Ghana in a monumental muscle which had just about everything including a last-minute penalty in extra time that could have put Ghana into the semi-final.

Uruguay will be outsiders for the remainder of the tournament, the only qualified through the play offs, but if …

Dell Streak Now Available SIM-Free

If you've been eyeing up the Dell Streak but aren't an O2 customer you can now order the Streak direct from Dell for £449, unlocked and SIM-free. Until the 31st of July customers whose employers are part of the Employee Purchase Program can get a 10% discount on the device, dropping the cost to a reasonable £404, just a fiver more than the O2 pay-as-you-go price.

I'm tempted by the Streak, its greater portability suggests that I'd use it more than an iPad. However I'm not sure it offers enough over a smartphone (and the X10 in particular) to justify its purchase...