Thursday, 8 July 2010

Well, that was predictable..

I failed to keep blogging regularly!

What a surprise, I guess I join 99% of all bloggers who attempt to write one of these things and get bored after day 3. Well, here I go at trying again.

I begin this again because a hell of a lot of interesting stuff has happened in my life (from my perspective anyway). I have moved in to a place with my fiancée Anne-Lise, graduated from Cardiff University, and been handed a job opportunity all in one month, as well as an amazing holiday in southern Spain, and another 2 weeks away from home in various parts of France next week.

So its all happening now. And I guess, as is proven by the fact that I'm writing this, that enough stuff is happening in my life that I consider it writing about.

What annoys me, and is the reason I haven't kept this thing updated, is that I really wanted this blog to be entirely "tech" related, as I'm fairly sure 90% of my ideas and opinions are formed around the realm of technological advances (and their related cock-ups). Unfortunately this means all my potential posts would be along the lines of:

"The iPhone sucks!! Why the hell would you throw money at a corporation that thrives on blocking your access to content it hasn't personally validated!!??1111one"

...and I don't want to be that type of person. Anyone with half a brain can see the *very* obvious pros and cons of the Apple business plan.

Ok, I cant do it. I just cant sit here typing and hope that anyone reading this is thinking what I'm thinking, so I'm going to have to list them. I'l attempt to explain as un-biased as possible.

1. The hardware Apple produces is awesome. The touch screen technology is so intuitive it may as well be rigged directly into your neo-cortex. (I am of course ignoring the recent iPhone 4 fuckups that require your hand is the exact clone of Sir Jobs' - more later, probably)

2. They have their market totally sorted. I mean really, they have capitalized on the "cool" factor to the point that american TV programs have to have an iMac somewhere in the background, and all the news channels (that have saturated the media enough to appear in Infomania) have someone holding an iPad to wave jpegs and avi's at the screen. Screw high-def, the younger audience will totally care about the news if its waved in front of a camera on a "cool" tablet device. I mean, really?? The overall effect is a considerably lower resolution image than would be produced by letting the audio-visual guys plug the image directly to the screen, but hey, if its on an iPad, people will care more, right??

No... I've started to rant, those that own iStuff presumably considered how much its costing them, weighed it up against the chance of them looking cool and shagable, and decided its worth it.

One last "pro",

3. Its free on the right contract!!

Ok, so certain ISP cum mobile providers no longer have monopolies on iStuff. Meaning there's now even more companies doing Apples advertising for them. I mean, O2, Virgin, Vodaphone, Tescos et all still have to buy the damn things, and then shift them to the baying public, so its not going to bother Apple who provides the contract. To them, they get paid sooner, so "yay, competition can bring the pricing down!!"

Bullshit. Apple still sells the kit, so Apple still decides the price. Its up to O2 to decide how to get it back again.

So yes, O2 may give it to you "free". Congrats, you have an iThingy. But lets consider this, shall we? The cheapest way to get yourself an iPhone4 on a pay monthly tariff, with O2, (as of 9.7.10), is £25 a month, for 24 months. Thats £600 before you try to use it for calls and such. The most expensive, and presumably most generous service-wise, is £60 for 24 months (other tariffs available), costing £1440 in todays money. I'm assuming this phone automatically pays your rent and council tax at that price.

(Incidentally I have a pay-as-you-go deal with O2 which gives me 300 free texts, unlimited internet, 10% of my top-ups back every 3 months as well as various "gifts" of free minutes every time I top up. Over 24 months this will cost me £240, meaning I could have 6 phones for the price of an iPhone, and importantly *I can stop paying, anytime I want!* Apple produces a new phone/pod/pad/thingy at least once a year, but the *free* contracts have you tied in until long after you've sold the thing for 30 quid to a mate)

... Right, deep breathe, and I'll try to finish the rant, while covering my ass with a few things that are obvious about what I've just said.

1. Apple need to make cash, in a way that's predictable and regular, so that its possible to predict future earnings and expenditure. Its the reason very few people have pay-as-you-go mortgages. Fair enough, just don't price yourself into the sky and at all god-like with it.

2. The "cool" factor really is worth something. Annoyingly, its true. Much though we hate to think it, advertising works. Even if you haven't eaten in a McDonalds in the last 6 months, or even walked past one, you still know it exists, and it'll appear in conversation from time to time. This is all it takes for a multinational company to ensure that people walk through its doors. It's recognisable, well known, predicable and, importantly *you know other people who have eaten there*. That's enough to persuade you between a Quarter Pounder and a regular burger and chips from your local burgers-R-us.

I'd love to say that's my Apple rant over, but it really isn't. This was all just to convey the fact that I can see what they're doing, and how its working, and how much people are paying in the hope they will be cool. The most important thing about all this is the software. And I'll type that later, as its late and I should have been asleep hours ago.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Copyright and the new laws

Ignore the title, its largely ironic, but the piece is a really interesting view on copyright laws in the UK and how they're set to change in the near to mid future. This is particularly interesting with the election coming up, (as the piece explains) and if enough people hear about this, and understand it, it really could change the way the UK population uses, or is allowed to use, the web.

I'm never thrilled at the idea of new regulation, the law is confusing enough that I literally have no idea if I'm breaking any at any specific time, but as a heavy Internet user, new regulation is bound to affect me, and you if you're reading this.

So yeah, copying stuff is hurting the country, and as manufacturing goes completely down the pan, maybe computer generated content -as a large part of our economy - should be protected?

Or should the Internet be left completely free for everyone to do whatever they want with, as originally envisaged in its early days?

This has been argued elsewhere, and everyone has a gut feeling to begin with on these things. But consider the long term effects of your actions and, importantly, realise that if you are doing something online, it is highly probable that thousands of others are doing the same thing. And cumulatively, its bound to have an effect on something eventually.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Quick post

Been watching twitter again, really interesting (and somewhat distressing) to watch the information about this earthquake/tsunami event throughout the southern pacific. Twitter continues to be a unique source, or at least aggregation, of information as the day continues.

See here and here for some amazing data/graphs all of the science stations and monitoring equipment have managed to piece together. Here is the original report which hit the net early this morning and soon got around, still being re-tweeted 12 hours later.

Though the source of many losses of life - and I know all our thoughts are with those who now have to take account of losses and begin the next stages of clear up and overcoming the emotional effects of it all - this is an example of technology being a huge help to the world. That data can be collected and dispersed so quickly is amazing, and if the tsunami does turn out to be significant, the warning of over 24 hours in some cases is invaluable.

I continue to be amazed that scientists are keeping careful logs of sea levels and seismic activity in places that are essentially inaccessible. Hundreds or even thousands of miles out to sea are buoys placed to measure this kind of data, and who knows how many man hours are spent collating it all. And at what expense. Whoever's funding this stuff needs to be thanked and have funding thrown at them to make sure it continues. (assuming of course that extra money solves any problem..)

Current tsunami data kept updated here.

Be safe out there.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Twitter Trends

I realise Twitter really isn't new, and I'm pretty late to jump on this bandwagon, but still...

I joined twitter yesterday, and while I have exactly zero followers (minus spammers), I have been keeping track of the trends which ebb and flow throughout the day. It's actually pretty interesting, and once you filter out all the "Buy Viagra pills here #click" and "Thank goodness its Friday" tedium, there's a lot of useful info to be found.

For example, the shear number of people who are constantly checking news sites, and twittering the interesting bits is pretty exciting. It means you can find out things ahead of the news sites themselves, which in this modern world of "I want everything, now" mindsets, means instead of going to look for news, it comes to you.

Well sort of. Very often, and I mean probably 99% of the time, the information you receive over twitter is a two word description, and a link to a news source. So really, the information is already researched, fact checked and uploaded, and all twitter is really doing is letting you know of news which has high interest. Nothing wrong with that, but not especially world changing.

I'm waiting to stumble across something ground-breaking. I was led to believe that twitter is full of people saying the sort of things that the big news corps refuse to talk about, or governments are avoiding attention of. Maybe I'm looking in the wrong places, and I'll keep looking.

For the moment I guess I'm content to consider the implications that really, given all the myriad of events happening the world over, we'd really prefer to discuss that a road in Derby is going to be named after Lara Croft, or whether various footballers may be dropped or signed to various teams. I did enjoy the speed that a leaking fish-tank became worldwide news though.

As an aside, I've been thinking over the form this blog should take. Am I happy to simply say what's on my mind, or should I be taking a stance on certain opinions and arguing my case? I prefer impartial speculation myself, but perhaps for more interesting reading I should get excited and angry about things...

I'll try and find something to be passionate about for my next post.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Some links + commentary

Always interesting to see new ways of saving the world, and these guys seem to have a business model worked out already. I think its one thing to have a cool eco-idea, and something completely different to have a may to monetise it. Reading through the company website, it seems they already have a few projects on the way, with big businesses seeing this as a way to stamp "Carbon Neutral Company" on their letterheads. So much the better, and it would be pretty cool to see a recycled plastic house. Maybe a time lapse video of one being built would demonstrate the ease of use in difficult locations?

Extra points for the company that gets this stuff working in Lego brick form...

This is brilliant, if a week or so old by now. I suppose google has enough of a sense of humour about it to let it stay up there, we can hope so anyway.

Its interesting just how much information Google has on us nowadays, far more than simple web searching histories of yesteryear. During my mornings RSS feed reading, I decided to join twitter (and blogspot), and began to connect to all the feeds that I normally read through the RSS feeds. TechCrunch offered to let me follow them through Buzz, which is part of GoogleMail, which Blogger allowed me to sign in with in order to set up this blog. So I have a blog, webmail, a social networking site, and rss style aggregation, as well as search histories, all under the watchful eyes of our mighty Google overlords.

Theres probably more I havent considered yet. Now consider you can have google chrome as a viewer to the intertubes, android on your HTC google phone, and the fact that these guys have photos of your house, front door, car *your life*.... we are very lucky they've decided not to be evil. Oh, and chances are this data is stored and cached on a google server somewhere, (or more accurately, hundreds of places) and you're using cables thrown across oceans paid for by them too....

When its listed out like that, I cant really think of anything they don't own!


as I was saying...

Are we sitting comfortably?

Then I'll guess I'll begin.

I've been meaning to start a blog for a very long time, and have recently started caring enough about all the information, factoids, links, pictures and #hashtags that I find throughout the web, that it may turn out to be worthwhile to collect them all in some central location.

We can also expect some random musings on the state of the world, namely upcoming technology, social networking trends, and scientific breakthroughs that I find of interest.

A list of some sites/ feeds I frequent:

Ars Technica
The Register
BBC Click
cnet .... and many numerous others.

Also hundreds of webcomics/videos: Dilbert, Penny Arcade, XKCD, Geek and Poke, Abstruse Goose, Zero Punctuation... and others I'm sure I'll link to.

F1rst P0st

Hello World