Sunday, 30 October 2011
India, a country of one billion inhabitants, is about to go car crazy.
The global environmental and political effects of a mass mobilisation in India promise to shake the world to its core.
Oil is running out. The cost and risks involved in getting it out of the ground are increasing by the day. The UK and US have fought or sponsored wars in Iraq and Libya to secure access to those country's oil reserves; with Iran looking like a probable next target.
The polar regions are likely to lose their protected status and shale mining is damaging other areas of the world. Not to mention the effect of a 20% increase in the number of vehicles emitting CO2 that a successful mobilisation of India would cause.
Before this move starts to gain pace there is a chance to minimise the effects on oil use and environment. Support India in moving to a electric only car population. Back that with massive short term improvements in things like the CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy Targets) across the westernised world, using access to the Indian market as a bribe to get reluctant manufacturers on-board.
It's a chance to make the world of the future a better place, let's hope we don't let it slip by.
Saturday, 29 October 2011
Nokia's Lumia phones launched this week to a tide of muted approval. There's not much to differentiate the high-end 800 from most of the other WP7 phones on the market.
What Nokia needed on Wednesday was a bit of shock value. Shame they announced the switch from Symbian so early.
Its difficult to see how Nokia could have done things differently without upsetting Symbian developers but I get the feeling that in a similar position Apple would have found a way.
Friday, 28 October 2011
Whether this decision was forced upon them by the lack of interest in the PSG group (the business unit responsible for manufacturing) or as claimed, it is a result of a review of value to the business of retaining this function, isn't clear.
It also remains to be seen whether HP has managed to retain any credibility as a manufacturer. In any case, the decision doesn't seem to lead to the reprieve of the former Palm operation. Mention of WebOS was noticeably absent from the announcement.
Leo Apotheker had the reins at HP for just ten months, in that time he seems to have wrought untold amounts of damage.
Who would have thought that there'd ever be a time when anyone at HP would look back on Carly Fiorina's time at the company with nostalgia? Somehow Apotheker has achieved this...
Thursday, 27 October 2011
The Lumia 800 is the flagship of the new range (for now, anyway) and has, decidedly average specs for that position. Highlights are the Clearblack display (Nokia's name for its AMOLED) and Carl Zeiss camera lens.
More interesting is the 710, a lower end device which promises to drop the entry level price for WP7 to something approaching the levels being achieved by Android OEMs.
First devices should be on the shelves early next month.
Posted with BloghuB for Windows Phone 7
Even the WP7 third party clients available make updating Blogger easy in comparison.
Google needs to fix this now, otherwise a large piece of its Android ecosystem is broken.
The graph below plots the number of software revisions the phone falls behind the currently shipping OS. it's skewed slightly by the rapid rate at which Google is pushing out Android revisions but nonetheless makes a fair point.
Michael points out that Android OEMs have no real interest in pushing updates out and try to gain a sale though making you unhappy with your current phone, whereas Apple looks to gain a sale by making you delighted with your current purchase. Simplifying things somewhat if you ask me but there's definitely a germ of truth hiding in there somewhere.
The key message here is to consider the value of your phone for the life of your contract. Compare the past performance of your phone manufacturer with regards to OS updates before handing over your cash.
You can read the whole piece here: http://theunderstatement.com/post/11982112928/android-orphans-visualizing-a-sad-history-of-support
Coldplay are clearly trying to echo the sales success of Adele who launched her most recent release under the same restriction.
It's a short-term benefit that hurts customers who have chosen to pay to listen to music. Given the battles that the music industry has had in trying to combat the free availability of music on the Internet and the changing perception of the value of music this is a trend that needs to be reversed.
Spotify has two million paying customers, if they start to see the value of that subscription reducing because new releases are no longer being made available then the service will fail and inevitably the majority of users will revert to illegal downloads.
I'm not sure why Coldplay has continued to allow its album to be streamed on Microsoft's Zune service (better payments, lower subscriber numbers?) but it's a strange distinction whatever.
For too long bands have complained about freeloaders stealing their music, so punishing those who are paying seems like a particularly stupid thing to be doing...
Update: Turns out that the Zune availability is for download only, so Zune subscribers are getting screwed over too...
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
The message that Uncini delivered to the riders today was stark: Simoncelli's death was unavoidable and could be repeated at any race they enter.
I don't think they needed to be told and I suspect that the message was aimed more at those pushing for a knee-jerk reaction to this weekend's events.
My testing would seem to indicate that it may be faster than previous Apple products, but it still doesn't hold a candle to Android or Windows Phone 7 devices from HTC.
Both the Desire HD and HD7 were able to start camera applications and be ready to take the first shot quicker than the new iPhone.
Overall it's fair to say the iPhone takes much better shots, but these are much older phones. Although I don't have one to hand to try a true head-to-head comparison, I suspect that the Samsung Galaxy S2 would provide a much sterner test of the iPhone's camera.
Sending photos to social networks isn't the easiest thing in the world either. And whilst Apple have integrated Twitter quite well there is no sign of any link to Facebook just yet, nor for that matter any other photo sharing service. With both Android and WP7 having those links in place Apple are lagging in this area. You can't actually share a photo on Facebook from the Photos application on the iPhone. Instead you have to start the Facebook app choose photo, select library and then pick the photo you wish to upload. Not exactly straightforward.
Monday, 24 October 2011
The 24 year old former GP250 champion was killed after falling from his bike into the path of fellow racers Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards, receiving fatal head and neck and chest wounds as a result.
Unlike last week's tragic death of IndyCar racer Dan Wheldon this accident was neither foreseeable nor avoidable.
Motorbike racing inevitably means the risk of one rider falling into the path of another. It is happened many times in the past and will no doubt happen in the future. Short of completely banning the sport there is no way to prevent this happening. Much has been made of the loss of Marco's helmet in the accident. I feel this is unlikely to have had any impact on the injuries he received. Being hit by motorcycle travelling at close 130 mph is unlikely to ever be a survival accident, helmet or not. Those who take part must surely be aware of this fact.
Another terrible day for motorsport. RIP.
Saturday, 22 October 2011
One of the highly contentious fragments of this story of Steve Jobs life is his feud with Google and Eric Schmidt in particular, around Android. Steve is reported to have claimed that he would use the very last breath in his body and all of Apple's $40 million warchest to take Android down.
Jobs is reported to have told Schmidt "I don't want your money, stop copying our ideas!"
Just how many of those ideas were actually Apple's to lay claim to though? After all if you compare Android to iOS there isn't a great deal of common ground. One is entirely based around the concept of icons and very strictly controlled interface design, the other is based around widgets and open application design.
I suspect there will turn out to be small areas where Android has been found infringe on paper. But the example of the Dutch courts recent patent investigation which found only one area of infringement in the Samsung Galaxy S2, a minor one at that, suggests that Apple's position isn't quite as strong as some would have us believe.
Without Steve jobs around one would hope that Tim Cook Apple's new Chief Executive will look to come to some kind of arrangement with Google, Samsung, et al and end the current nonsense of litigation which has blighted the smartphone industry for far too long.
There are many ways where the iPhone falls short: screen size, accessibility and choice. But in terms of voice recognition the iPhone takes everything that has gone before and blows it away.
The look on people's faces when you demonstrate what Siri can do and more remarkably how it copes with noisy environments is absolutely priceless.
If your life revolves around tasks, appointments or reminders then being able to easily create them without having to ever touch your phone will be enough to persuade you to buy. Siri in the UK doesn't have all functionality of the US version yet, however if it's this good already then the arrival of full functionality can only make for a more compelling argument.
It is rare that Apple's hype machine and my experiences align so well, in this case however, I can only say everything Apple says about Siri is absolutely true.
And quite remarkable.
Thursday, 20 October 2011
It's down to the rather strange way that Apple runs its business. Despite racking up bigger and bigger profits Apple has never paid a dividend to its stock holders, allowing to stockpile a massive $75bn war chest. Enough to buy most of its competition in the smartphone, tablet and software markets outright.
If stockholders aren't seeing some return from the investment in the form of dividend what reason is there to buy it? The simple expectation that the stock will continue to rise and somebody else will pay you for the shares at a profitable rate. A gamble that is going to backfire for someone soon.
Apple is valued at around $400bn today - which isn't high given the cash held and annual profits. But unless they are expecting Apple to issue an extraordinary dividend or buy back some of its shares there is no sensible reason for institutional investors to hold Apple stock.
Hopefully your pension company isn't one of those taking the gamble...
Tuesday, 18 October 2011
At the Las Vegas Speedway on Sunday the luck ran out.
With 34 cars packed into the short 1.5 mile banked oval, running the whole lap flat out - 225mph - and tightly packed as a result of the effects of slipstreaming a collision in the middle of the pack was always going to escalate into carnage. And so it proved. 15 cars wiped out, three, including Wheldon's launched into terrifying somersaults off the back of the cars in from of them. The bigger surprise was that there was only a single fatality.
Wheldon's tragic mis-fortune was that in the process of cartwheeling down the track his car's cockpit collided with the crash fencing that sits above safety barrier, ripping the rollbar and other safety structures from the car and inflicting 'unsurvivable' head injuries on the British two-time Indy 500 winner. Other cars - notably Will Power's - followed the same trajectory but impacted backwards preventing the fatal impact that killed Dan.
In 2005 Dan Wheldon was the Englishman to win the Indy 500 since Graham Hill nearly 40 years previously. In 2011 he repeated the feat - winning the race at the final corner, despite not having a regular drive for the season. His talent was unquestioned and he was liked and respected by his peers, his death has cast a shadow over Indycar racing.
In a tragic irony, Wheldon had spent much of the season testing a new car for the series, packed with enhanced safety features, including a rear bumper designed specifically to prevent exactly the sort of accident that led to Wheldon's death.
This was the last race with the old car...
RIP Dan, Britain's forgotten champion.
Thursday, 13 October 2011
Ritchie, more commonly known as dmr, created the C programming language and the UNIX operating system. The former is the root ancestor of just about every programming language in existence (and as a result is the reason why you can read this) the latter covers everything else in the world of computing.
Ritchie wrote 'The C Programming Language' with Brian Kernighan and every computer graduate in history has a copy.
It's brilliance is in making C accessible, whilst giving pointers to good programming practice, becoming the definitive influencer of programming style since it's 1978 release - it also delivered the first example of the 'hello world' program, now the de facto for any new platform and famously the slogan on the Mac's front screen in early advertising.
Ritchie's death won't garner the same eloquent obituaries as SteveJobs, but his impact on computing in the modern world was if anything greater and his achievements deserve to be marked.
Thursday, 6 October 2011
"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something." - Steve Jobs, Standford commencement speech, 2005