Showing posts from November, 2012

F1: Hang On, Its Not Over Yet, Ferrari Considering Vettel Protest

Looks like we might get a worst case scenario tomorrow, as Ferrari, allegedly pushed by Fernando Alonso, are considering a protest against the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel for an illegal overtake  as shown in the video below. It appears that Vettel passes an STR under a yellow caution light. It seems a very strange thing for Vettel to have done, especially given the cool head he demonstrated on Sunday, but the evidence is there in the video. The only potential information we don't have is whether there was a green flag being shown at the pitlane entrance marshall's post, which would override the yellow lights at trackside. There was certainly a green flag there the lap before, so it doesn't seem an unreasonable assumption. Nevertheless the penalty will rest on facts, not assumptions. Given that the incident happened on lap 4 and therefore Vettel would have received his penalty by lap 7, early enough that the impact of the safety cars would have negated it, it would be a t…

Xbox Needs A Junior Companion

Microsoft's current world of consumer woes has one very bright spark - the Xbox 360, which continues to be popular with consumers and outperform the competition. It's a profitable line for Microsoft and the extensions of its capability with Kinect and major updates to software have kept the line fresh.

Microsoft needs to work the 360 further though, even if the rumoured replacement is possible only 12 months away.

The updates to the Xbox dashboard have brought content - games, music and movies; a web browser, YouTube, on demand TV, video calling and instant messaging - to the living room in a big way.

None of these things need an optical driven especially if games are to be delivered on demand. Limited amounts of flash storage would also suffice as opposed to the hard disk currently used by high end 360s.

I believe that Microsoft needs to tune the bottom end of the Xbox line to better compete with set top devices like the Apple TV and Google TV.

By making a small, spindle fre…

Sex Offender Seeks Facebook Injunction

This defies belief. A convicted sex offender is seeking to force the removal of a Facebook page which identifies him and other such scum in Northern Ireland.Let's hope that the court makes the sensible decision, denies his motion and removes his right to anonymity.So identifying him makes him fearful for his safety? That's good, I'd imagine he's getting small taste of what his victim suffered. It is only right that the community is made aware of the threat that lies in its  midst. Allowing those who feel the need to take appropriate precautions.BBC News - Sex offender in Facebook court challenge

Microsoft Troubles Growing, Time For Ballmer's Head?

Reports of disastrous sales of the Surface and less than impressive Windows 8 numbers don't bode well for Microsoft. Windows Phone 8 has at least generated some buzz, but even then it doesn't look like Microsoft's mobile OS is going to change the smartphone landscape anytime soon. This is a real risk to Microsoft's long term future. Desktop sales have crashed, laptop sales are collapsing and the two market segments that are showing growth seem to be beyond their grasp.As head of the company Steve Ballmer has to carry the can. His past strategy has failed and another poor quarter will seriously call into question his ability to lead the company from its funk. In a triple pronged attack he has pushed Windows 8, WP8 and the Surface to market in short order. If this new strategy also fails there is no longer anywhere left to hide.As things fall away from Microsoft there is a whole generation growing up for whom the company has no relevance. A generation for whom Microsoft …

Vettel at the Treble

Sebastian Vettel added yet another record to his collection today with a fine drive in Brazil to clinch his third World Championship, the youngest ever triple champion and only the third man to win three titles back to back.
The Vettel detractors have always accused him of being unable to overtake and this year he has readily proven this to not be the case. Both his penalty in Texas and Senna-induced spin in Brazil left him needing to charge through the field. In the latter case with significant damage to his car. That he had all but caught Alonso by the first round of pitstops showed great pace and skill.
Alonso would have been a worthy champion based on his performances over the year. However his lack of pace in the last two races were telling. Team mate Massa was faster in both and gave up better results in both races to support Alonso. A win in either would have been enough to take the title. Neither looked likely.
It was a fine year of racing, with a conclusion that was worthy of…

HTC and Apple Patent Agreement Not A Precursor To Peace

Apple and HTC agreed to an undisclosed royalty fee in respect of their disputed patents. Views differ on who he ended up paying who.We might find out soon enough as Samsung's lawyers have successfully petitioned to see the agreement as a precursor to ongoing actions between Apple and Samsung.Looks like more courtroom drama to come then.

Vespa Goes... Retro?

Actually I'm not altogether sure this counts as retro, more a bit of a celebration of the past. My word its a fine looking scooter though...
This is the Vespa 946 - a homage to the MP6 World War 2 prototype and its a lovely looking thing. It's not even on the Vespa UK website yet, so pricing is obviously a mystery. That's if Vespa even decide to sell it here, I'm not sure this will look right rasping down London's side streets on a rainy day. Much more at home gliding gracefully through Mediterranean sunshine on the Riviera somewhere fashionable...
Mind you, with a economy test rating of 130mpg, it may be the only way to travel at the rate fuel costs are rising! Where do I sign?

What's Wrong With Skeumorphic Design?

The recent outing of Scott Forstall from Apple has suddenly got everyone talking about Skeumorphic design and, generally, finding it to be something they'd be glad to see disappear. This philosophy, which represents interface elements with real world items is embedded in the culture of interface design and Apple changes it at its peril.

Whilst Jonathan Ive has done a remarkable job of turning Apple's hardware design into something clean, crisp and admirable; can he work the same magic with interface elements? Translating that same minimalism into user interfaces without making them complex and non-obvious is going to be challenging.
Having on-screen notepads that look like notepads, or on-screen diaries that look like diaries works well for a touch-centric interface. There may not be additional functionality, but by giving users that warm fuzzy feeling of something they know, Apple achieves much more.
Perhaps the strongest element of Apple's iPhone, iPad and Mac strategy i…

F1: Vettel or Alonso To The Wire?

We're approaching the denouement of this year's F1 Championship, with a third title bound for one of the two remaining protaganists. Its been a funny old season, calling to mind nothing less than the chaos of 1982, when regulation changes and terrible misfortune produced one of the most unpredictable and least enjoyable seasons in history.

This year has been something of a more pleasant ride. We've had the pleasure of watching some of the closest matched teams and drivers in living memory. Six teams have managed to produce race winning cars, eight drivers have stood on the top step and the title goes to the wire between the fastest driver and the best one. Probably.

Bizarrely the team that has the strongest driver pairing and the fastest car over the season won't be involved in the battle for the title. Mclaren looked likely to romp to the title earlier in the season but mistake after mistake, failure after failure, they have allowed first Alonso and Ferrari; and then Ve…

Apple and HTC Reach Patent Agreement

Yes, you read that right, Apple and HTC have signed a 10 year licensing agreement which ends all existing courtroom battles and cross-licenses all existing and future patents for the next decade.

This is fantastic news and hopefully signals a realisation amongst players in the smartphone market that the constant warring over 'innovations' hurts everybody, not least the consumer. As the old saying goes: an eye for an eye means we all end up blind.

With Google-owned Motorola pulling back from aggressive patent positions, Microsoft and others coming to understandings and now HTC and Apple all friendly it only leaves Samsung and Apple at loggerheads.

The current fallout between the top two players in the smartphone game looks to be more of a rift than other disputes and I suspect will take a lot more healing than those that have gone before.

Nonetheless, as the consumers of all this technology I think we can be happy that this is a move in the right direction.

If A Pregnancy Test Kit Can Detect Testicular Cancer, Why Aren't We Using Them?

This guy's decision to try out his girlfriends pregnancy test kit
probably saved his life. The test came back positive and, as the link
below describes, led several Reddit users to direct him to his doctor.
Apparently testicular cancer raises the same detectable changes in a
man as a pregnancy does in a woman.

Who knew?

Well apparently somebody did, which beggars the question: why has no
one been shouting about this so that we can get men using the things
on a regular basis? It's not like they're incredibly expensive.

Detecting new life and preventing loss of life? That'd be the humble
pregnancy test kit then...

Why Office Will Come To Android and iOS

Speculation continues into the future of Microsoft Office. Will it jump platforms and support tablets and smartphones that compete with Microsoft and their partners?

The answer is obvious: it has too.

Microsoft are staring down the barrel of the biggest PC market downturn ever. OEMs are shipping fewer and fewer PCs. As a result Microsoft are going to see knock on effects on Windows license sales and onwards purchases of Office, its real money maker.

Where are those sales going? Well last quarter the blooming tablet market was a quarter of the size of the PC market. Smartphone sales will soon overtake PC sales, tablets will follow not too long after.

Microsoft has always been a slave to its Office division, as its always been a license to print money. With fewer people using PCs that's unlikely to be the case in the future.

So Microsoft faces a stark choice - stick to Office on PCs and die a slow lingering death as Office and Windows sales fall through the floor or swallow a bitter pill…

Why Make The New iMac So Thin?

Apple's iMac has been something of an iconic piece since the launch of the original Bondi Blue machine back in the late 90s. Apple updated it alongside the iPad and MacBook Pro and as a result it sports a razor thin edge to its all in one goodness.

Except I'm struggling to see why making it look so thin at the edges was necessary. Surely the desktop is one area where thinness has little importance? Other than looking like a blade when viewed side on there doesn't really seem to be much point in this particular piece of work.

Strange place to focus engineering effort if you ask me...

So I Bought an iPad Mini

When Apple launched the iPad mini a couple of weeks back it was a product that held no interest to me. After all I had just sold my Nexus 7 after deciding that a 7" tablet was too close in size to the Galaxy Note 2 without adding greatly to its functionality.

So how have I ended up with a mini in my gadget collection?

The easy answer is that I've no self control when it comes to shiny new gadgets. However, that's only part of the answer here. The iPad mini clearly demonstrates that the best iPad is the one you have with you and whereas a 10" tablet is not something I'd ever contemplate carrying around with me, a 7" is just the right size to slip into a coat pocket or possibly a larger back pocket.

Functionally its an iPad - its pretty much a shrunken iPad 2 with a Lightning connector. Everything that you got on your iPad 2 works just the same here. And that's a good thing. Standard resolution is by far the most common size for iPad apps.

This isn't a ch…