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Showing posts from April 16, 2013

The Chromebook Pixel - Small Sales, Big Impact

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Chromebooks are either a resounding success or a desperate failure, depending on who you listen too and what metrics you believe.

Some who have tried them have dismissed them as pointless and too reliant upon an available Internet connection. Others who have spent longer amounts of time rave a out them.

Samsung's and Acer's previous Chromebooks have played in the entry level laptop space - selling well (according to Amazon's figures anyway) by offering a laptop for less than the price of a laptop. The disadvantages of Chrome OS offset by the financial advantage.

So what are we to make of the Chromebook Pixel now that its been with us for a little while?

The Pixel has been torn apart for being ridiculously expensive, over species and packing all the disadvantages of the regular Chromebook.

That's completely missing the point.


Just How Hot Should A Smartphone Run?

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You can't help but have noticed how much hotter smartphones are running these days. If not from the unpleasant heat that's transferred to your hand when using it, then certainly the burning sensation that transfers to your leg when you shove one into your pants pocket.

Its rarely mentioned by reviewers when they look at a new phone but we all know it happens.

It was something that became quickly obvious was going to be an issue when I first tried Sony's latest high end device, the Xperia Z. The waterproofing that Sony have effected around the device also provides an additional barrier to ridding the device of heat and you'll find hotspots on the device where you'd probably best avoid holding it.


New Design

Those of you who visit regularly will have noticed that I've been playing around with the page design over the last couple of days.

This is the final iteration of those changes, with a new colour scheme, hopefully you'll like it.

If You Had To Choose Just One?

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Most people own one phone. And they own that phone for the full two years of the contract they got with the phone. How does that affect the purchasing decision, and what can we who change our phones on a whim learn from them?

This sort of sale is as much about winning the recommendation of the sales person in the mobile phone shop as it is about winning over the customer. For most handset companies that's the key battle.

Sales people don't recommend phones from companies that cause them problems.


So What Happens When You Wring Out A Cloth in Space?

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Chris Hadfield, currently resident on the International Space Station, demonstrates what happens when you wring out a washcloth in space. Probably not what you expected.

Me? I was looking at all those exposed electrics and bubbles of floating water wondering whether they'd really thought the whole thing through properly.

However, as we've not heard of any major incidents on the ISS in the last couple of days I guess we can assume that it all passed off without incident.

Twitter #Music - A Poor Imitation of Last.fm

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When Twitter bought We Are Hunted it was a great service for discovering new and emerging artists. In its transformation into Twitter #Music I'm struggling to see the value proposition.

First of all the good, #Music looks great on iPhone and does indeed allow you to play music through the app if you are a Spotify or Rdio subscriber (if not you'll get the 30s iTunes preview of each track).
From there on in though it all starts to look a little woolly.
Whereas products like last.fm mine huge amounts of data produced by users scrobbling their listening activity to work out the relationships between different artists, Twitter's service bases their recommendations on who you follow in Twitter. 
Don't follow any bands? You aren't going to find much value here.

Windows RT A Poor Fit For Tablets

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Microsoft's Surface hasn't been the success that the company hoped for - and that in spite of a fairly hefty advertising campaign.

For customers Windows RT promises much and fails to deliver in the most comprehensive manner.

The promise of Windows on a tablet is that it will operate like Windows and run Windows programs. Windows RT doesn't do this and so the Surface is compromised. And if Microsoft can't make Windows RT a success why would other OEMs waste R&D and marketing dollars trying to do better? Its bad enough trying to sell one version of Windows 8 in the current climate, never mind two.

Man of Steel Trailer - Superman Rebooted

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When Superman originally arrived it came with the tagline 'You'll believe a man can fly' - in 1978 that was probably enough to get most people to the cinema.

In 2013, where worlds are created and destroyed in the computer animator's workshop, a flying man really holds no intrigue for the cinema going audience.

The original Superman was the first comic book hero to feature in a modern, big budget movie, whereas this year's reboot follows a whole host of Marvel and DC comic heroes onto the silver screen.

Man of Steel will have to live or die by the strength of its story.

Based on the trailers alone I'm hopeful this may turn out to be a must-see. What do you think?

F1: Fear Prompts Kovaleinen Return To Caterham

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Heikki Kovaleinen lost his drive at Caterham at the end of last season, in the current financial climate the team felt it had to employ two drivers who brought more funding to the table. As a result Charles Pic and Giedo Van der Garde got the nod for race seats, whilst Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua became official test and reserve driver for the team.

And that's how things would have stayed but for the collapse of Luis Razia's sponsorship deal with Marussia. The Brazilian was ditched by the team and replaced by Jules Bianchi, a rather different prospect with the promise of a glittering career ahead of him.

Bianchi immediately changed the game at the back of the field - easily winning the min-race within a race that is the battle for superiority and 11th place in the constructors championship. At times the Frenchman has been more than a second faster than those he is racing and certainly looks like he might score a point somewhere this season.

Tiered Capability In Entry-Level Devices Damaging Windows Phone?

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Last quarter Microsoft and its partners managed to find homes for around six million Windows Phones. That's about four days worth of activations for Android. Its a worrying statistic for Microsoft - even as it posts improved sales figures the market is growing so quickly its actually losing more and more ground to the market leaders, quarter on quarter.

At some point soon third place in the platform market will become as irrelevant as fourth. The market will firmly crystallise around two choices: Apple or Samsung, sorry Android.

In order to capture as large a percentage of the new buyers market as possible Windows Phone OEMs are racing to the bottom of the price vector. Not a bad marketing choice, WP8 offers a reasonably good experience even on limited hardware and new users are probably going to be very happy with their new devices.

But what about when they aren't new users anymore?

Oops... Someone at Wired Got Their Buttons Pushed

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The Funny or Die movie that I linked you to yesterday has certainly divided opinion. More bizarrely its been really pushing the buttons of some people who I can only assume are blind Apple fanboys (and are missing the parody completely); or who seem to have had a complete sense of humour bypass. In both cases the reaction has been one of affront that I'm guessing is exactly what the Funny or Die Team were looking for.

One such person is Wired's Mat Honan, whose review of the film is so insane its a parody in itself. Which camp Honan falls into I'm not sure but he clearly demonstrates the validity of the 'don't post when you're angry' rule. Here's a reviewer who could have benefited from leaving the review in his inbox for 24 hours before hitting post.

Want to share the insanity? The review is posted here.

Funny or Die: iSteve. Satire, But Gently Done

So the first film of Steve Jobs life arrives and its from the team at Funny or Die. This is going to be a divisive piece of work. Not belly laugh funny, not overly cruel and ultimately striking just the right tone  for such a difficult subject.

That's not to say it doesn't have its moments of humour - watch out for the nerd fight between Jobs and Gates, Woz working as a delivery man and Justin Long (as Jobs) recruiting himself for the I'm a Mac commercials.

Its just under 80 minutes long - unheard of for Funny or Die - and was put together in record time specifically to grab the title of first Jobs biopic. With no pretence at historical accuracy and a clear intention of mocking the makers of the other Jobs films due this year (rather than mocking Jobs himself) many will just not get it.

Watch the trailer below or dive in for the full movie here.


iSteve Exclusive Teaser Trailer from iSteve

Android to iOS: One Week Wrapup

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Well I did it. I went through a whole week with an iPhone not just as my main phone, but as my only phone.

Truth be told my expectations for the week weren't high. The iPhone has a great reputation for some things, but competing with the best that Android has to offer isn't high on that list.

So one week on, how do I feel about the change?

Firstly, contrary to expectations, I found I didn't miss any of the extra features and functionality that I've grown used to with Android. Yes, the Note 2's pen is brilliant but without the need to do day to day note taking I haven't required it at all. NFC has proven to be something that I rarely use and things like fast access to settings toggles and widgets are either adequately replaced by iOS or not necessary if you work with the iPhone rather than against it. Google's own applications are all present and correct, which makes the transition much easier. The addition I would like to see on iOS is browser text reflow.…

Man's Inhumanity to Man

Many and sharp the num'rous ills 
Inwoven with our frame! 
More pointed still we make ourselves, 
Regret, remorse, and shame! 
And man, whose heav'n-erected face 
The smiles of love adorn, - 
Man's inhumanity to man 
Makes countless thousands mourn!        ~ Man Was Made To Mourn, Robert Burns
Today the streets of Boston, Baghdad and Bahrain bear witness to the validity of Rabbie Burns dirge more than 200 years since it was penned. As ever, sadly, it is the innocent who pay the price.

iCancer: Can Crowdsourcing Fund Development of NET Cancer Treatment?

Every single one of us will experience the pain of cancer in our lifetimes, whether that be personally or through someone we know and love.

But what if I told you that there is a promising new treatment for a particular type of cancer that is sat in a freezer, in a lab in Sweden. Going nowhere. Helping no-one. I hope you'd be as shocked as I am.

A team in Sweden led by Prof. Magnus Essand have developed the treatment to this stage and have seen very positive results for NET Cancer treatment in clinical trials on mice. And now further research has stalled, as the team has been unable to raise funds for trials with a group of human patients. The funds would normally come from one or other of the world's pharmaceutical giants - for whom the $2m costs represent the smallest drop in the ocean.