Posts filed under: Technology

Technology

Techy Stuff we like

Australia is one of those countries you just would never place in the top of any list relating to any form of technological advancement. Why this is I really don’t know, but it just seems right not to lumber our friends from down under in any form of ‘doing well’ category, whether this is down to there excellent Cricketing history and our unique jealousy at anyone who ‘does’ a sport better then us – I don’t know. But one thing is for certain, that presently Australians are amongst the most connected on the planet, or perhaps the most sensible…

With the recent explosion in Mobile Broadband, Netbooks, and the ubiquitous Smart-phone (IPhone, Nokia 5800, HTC etc). Comes the question ‘What is the point of a fixed phone line?’ which millions of Australians seem to have answered. Of course there is nothing better then having a home phone line; the ease and it ‘just being there’.

Home Phones - The Old Way

Home Phones - The Old Way

The fact remains that Is Money Saving the New Money Spending? as it seems that these ‘millions of Australians’ after realising that if they encourage all of their friendship circles to use VoIP services such as Skype they can have very cheap phone calls under a single package in a Pay-As-You-Go way. They can communicate easily and cost-effectively…

The Brisbane Times did however bring the hopes of the fervent down a few notches:

The pricing of mobile data also makes mobile broadband a bad choice for people who like to download movies and music from the web. Entry-level pricing for fixed and wireless mobile data is now similar, but if you want more than 5GB per month you’ll still get much more bang for your buck from DSL or cable.

Without wanting to say I know everything – I’d assume that the majority of online users say within the 16-30 age range, will use the internet then none other then checking emails, Face book, and streaming soon to be released movies? Any thoughts? So does this mean that its the older sector of adults who are seemingly disconnecting there fixed lines? Suprising? Of course as long as you have un-capped download limits on a contract Broadband service, you should be fine, the real issue comes with using a Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband to service the needs of the entire house : Phone, Connection to the Internet etc. As you may find that you spend a hell of a lot more money, as data charges seem to be extortionate if you go over your limits…

For the Original article please look here

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Recently I wrote about the genius Idea of MiFi a recent initiative from 3 Mobile Broadband

Priced and Ready to Go

Priced and Ready to Go

3’s Marketing & Sales Director Marc Allera said this:

Consumer demand for easy and affordable internet access on the go is growing fast and we’re responding to that by announcing the UK’s first wireless modem

Quote Courtesy of Tree Badger

As I wrote previously

“It is a wireless router you can take anywhere and use on any WI-FI enabled device (Laptop,Netbook,mobile phone, I pod Touch etc), the service is down to 3’s 3G service so it will work pretty much everywhere. What is so good about this device is unlike is father, the Dongle, it allows multiple connections, whereas the dongle only allowed one connection so you share Spotify Playlists or what not with your friends, whilst, yes checking your requests on Facebook.”

Now down to the nitty gritty what you really want to know! There will be 2 price plans available for the MiFi service which will be around from the 17th September are either contract or Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband

The ‘Broadband 5gb 1 Month” package is a contract based package. However you will have to pay £69.99 for the device (a one of payment) and £15 a month for the ‘airtime’.

The alternative to a contract is the £99.99 one of fee for the device which includes 3GB of data to use over 3 months and the ability to ‘top up’ whenever required, thus continuing on a Pay As You Go Basis.

Now personally 5GB of Data a month is not bad, but whether it is worth waiting a few months until ultimately the prices will drop and the device and plans will have changed forms and prices to better suit everyone. Of course a contract is a contract and as far as I can see there is no indication as to whether
the contract length will be in the 12 month, 18 month or the longer term 24 month variety, hopefully it will be in the 12 month form rather then the generally cheaper 24 month form.

Excellent reading on the subject of MiFi is available here and here

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Spotify uses it on their free service, every 20 or so minutes, a tolerable advert, which is chosen at random by analysing the song history (genre, age etc) and your usage patterns. We tolerate this as it is a free service… Equally there are constant adverts popping up on the bottom bar, generally music related, and really nothing to be worried about…

Misery Signals? Little Boots? Relevant?!

Of course if I pay I can relive myself of the the adverts. Spotify on their FAQ section say this regarding ‘amounts of advertising you will be exposed to’.

There should be significantly fewer ads in Spotify than you’d find on commercial radio. We are trying to strike a balance between artists who want to be paid and providing the best possible user experience.

Fair point.

Now the real point of this blog post is that recently (this morning) it has been revealed to me that 3, one of the worlds leading Mobile Broadband service will be incorporating an advertising platform into their Mobile Broadband & Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband services.

Advertising ‘results’ will be taken from the business directory. The plans where announced earlier this summer, of their plans to carry in the same way Spotify does adverts, the intentions are to get more brands to sign up to the huge advertising potential that this carries.

Users will see the adverts, every time they connect to the internet service, whether the service carries a ‘off’ button to ‘remove’ the service remains a mystery, but all I know is that the potential of 3 million people per month seeing your advert surely is a good thing for any business…

Soon to include adverts...

Soon to include adverts...

The question In my mind is whether its acceptable to have an addition like this on a paid service?

*Update* After a week or so of having a fairly hard (yeah right) look around for an image of what the service will look like I came across this picture.

3MobileBroadband Adverts

3MobileBroadband Adverts

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Wi-Fi is ‘transforming home broadband’ so says Cable a Digital services reviewer, based in the UK.

Here is the article:

John Dunn, editor of IT website Techworld, has claimed that while wireless technology went “nowhere” for years, improvements in speeds and lower prices have helped it grow in popularity.

He added that the technology has had another impact on the market, as its introduction led to the launch of rival platforms.

“[Wi-Fi] seemed like an easy way to make these devices internet-capable without compelling people to buy slower and expensive data plans from mobile phone networks,” he explained.

“Mobile networks have fought back with a separate wireless technology called 3G, which is also just about fast enough to allow usable Mobile Broadband.”

Recent figures from ABI Research revealed that laptops and smart phones are increasingly being fitted with Wi-Fi chipsets, which in turn has led to a rise in the use of the technology.

Switch and Save?

Switch and Save?

My interpretation of Wi-Fi is that it is not meant to be a competitor of home broadband be that wireless or hardwired, rather to be an extension of such, to improve and to allow greater flexibility and possibly greater download speeds.

Of course the best way of buying broadband is with a package which includes a phone line, TV etc, the Daily Mail recently suggest it was best to compare prices using a Price Comparison website and then the best thing is to switch and save for the best deal. It is also worth considering a Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband to add to your Phone, TV, and Broadband Bundle.

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There are many benefits to using digital music as opposed to using CDs or even Vinyl. The process of downloading a digital music file  to your computer, apparently is (according to Katie Fehrenbacher over @ GIGAOM) eliminating the energy required to produce and ship a CD – this also includes you driving to the store and actually buying it, and then driving back!

The Music Flow...

The Music Flow...

Researchers at Stanford, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Carnegie Mellon University, including so called ‘IT energy’ guru Jonathan Koomey have found that despite the energy used from downloading music from the internet, digital downloads can reduce amount of energy consumed by the delivery of music, in terms of effecting the amount of energy used and carbon dioxide emissions by between 40-80% This in my mind sounds good, but of course there are things which would be effected.

For a more detailed look at the research please visit here

Poorer and Poorer by the day

Poorer and Poorer by the day

I, for one am a big fan of actually ‘owning’ an album or a single; nothing in my mind beats the feeling of holding a brand new, essentially piece of art, made by my favourite artist(s). This feeling was especially exaggerated when I was younger as it had generally taken me a few weeks of ardent saving.
Now whether or not the idea of actually owning the greatness that is an album in all of its atomic mass, will be one which is taken away from us by the fervent eco-warriors of our age remains to be an issue which will need to be worked out for the best. Hopefully the war against climate change will not ‘sacrifice another victim’ the beloved CD and the joys that owning a piece of art…

GANG GANG DANCE - Click for Play

GANG GANG DANCE - Click for Play

What next an end to live music…?

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Being overcharged is one of the worst things ever – a feeling likened to being robbed. Imagine how it would feel if you where overcharged and there being nothing you can do about it? Users of o2s mobile broadband service have recently been stung by over using there dongles, with charges of £200 for using an extra 2gb of data beyond the amount included with their contract. OOOOOH

The Telegraphs definition of a dongle is…

Dongles are small mobile internet modems that plug into computers to give instant broadband access over the mobile phone network. But contracts stipulate that only a certain amount of data, often 1GB, may be downloaded in a month for the monthly charge, typically £10 or £15.

Generally companies will charge fairly extreme rates should you go over your allocated data limits. Money Supermarkets, James Parker, the comparison services manager of Mobile Broadband and Mobile Phones, who led the study into mobile broadband data limits

Dongle users are most at risk of incurring charges from exceeding download allowances as limits on dongles tend to be much lower than on fixed-line packages. While the portability is great, users need to be aware that dongles are most suitable for light users.

Which brings the huge question to mind – Are dongles suitable for large personal use, or even for using for your main internet connection. Probably not. In many ways the best thing to do for Mobile Broadband use is to either ensure it is capped at the amount you signed the contract for, or alternatively use Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband as a money saving alternative .

For the full study by Money Supermarket please click here

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How many people struggle as I did earlier this year with the need to get a new TV to enable digital – truth be told we needed a new TV, and Yes I was aware that I could just plug a ‘digi box’ in and it will do the same thing! Then for some you have to throw in the problem of being eco-friendly or climate change aware.

The Majority of TV made in the last few years are environmentally friendly. Martyn Hocking editor of Which? a ‘…no bias, no hidden agenda’ online review site said this

There are great choices for people looking for an energy efficient TV, and, in general, the power consumption of TVs has dropped rapidly this year across all formats and screen sizes, It is possible to enjoy your favourite programmes without worrying about your green credentials

A Green TV?

A Green TV?

Models now come with all manner of interesting energy efficient tools and functions which help you save money and save the planet. Power-Saving modes, ‘hard off’ switches to ensure they do not drain any power, and screen-blanking options which darken your television screen whilst you are listening to the radio. Other great features of modern TV’s include: a sensor which turns the television off completely when it has been left on standby for too long, equally avoid quick-start standby TV’s which save a few seconds when you turn the TV on but remember a couple of seconds of extra viewing time will not offset the extra expense of power needed.

Plasma screens are serious energy drainers, as they use far more energy then LCD screen or even the conventional wide screen. LED screens are soon to hit the market, recent models which have been reviewed are suggested to use even less power then LCD screens. Perhaps it will soon be time to switch and save

Fiver questions to ask before buying a new TV set…

Which screens are the most energy efficient?

Generally, plasma TVs use the most amount of energy. New technology TVs, such as LCD and LED models, use more power than traditional “big box” CRT models. However, the developments in power-saving and light-sensor technology is beginning to close the gap.

What “green” features are available?

The most energy-efficient settings involve ambient light sensors, which can slash a typical 100 watt reading for a 32-inch TV screen in half in dark conditions.

Big screen or small?

There’s no way of getting around it, the smaller the screen, the less energy it typically uses. On average, a 32-inch LCD TV uses 109 watts compared to 168 watts for a 40-inch screen.

Is standby so bad?

Standby wastes a lot of energy so stay clear of it. If your TV has a power-hungry quick-start standby mode, disable it. Switch it off at the socket or unplug it when not in use.

How can I be greener with my TV once I get it home?

Toning down the brightness on your TV can make a big difference. The ideal settings for viewing at home are often very different to the manufacturer’s settings.*

Quote for this article where taken from here*

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How many times have you been out and about with your laptop – perhaps on tour with a band or just travelling somewhere and the need to be connected has really got you? Cant wait to check your Facebook, due to the hot chick your sat next to insisting that you need to be ‘online buddies!’ Now I emphasise the exclamation mark as its necessary, these people, who suggest you become Facebook friends are generally fairly OTT enthusiastic types who aren’t worth knowing…

However should you feel this need, there is now a solution to all your social networking issues. MIFI the latest and fairly good idea from 3 Mobile Broadband. It is a wireless router you can take anywhere and use on any WI-FI enabled device (Laptop,Netbook,mobile phone, I pod Touch etc), the service is down to 3’s 3G service so it will work pretty much everywhere. What is so good about this device is unlike is father, the Dongle, it allows multiple connections, whereas the dongle only allowed one connection so you share Spotify Playlists or what not with your friends, whilst, yes checking your requests on Facebook.

MIFI - The Future of Wireless Connectivity?

MIFI - The Future of Wireless Connectivity?

You will also be protected whilst surfing your own wireless network by a eight-digit network key, you will however have to enter it every time a new device(friend) tries to connect. With a simple ‘turn on and it WILL work’ style usage the same if you where pikeying from houses in your car…

It wont be available till Christmas this year at the earliest but could this spell and end to the dongle? With little to suggest the price of either contracts of Mobile Broadband or Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband, lets hope the prices are cheap and cheerful!

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Virgin Media – The provider of my personal land-line and Broadband service have in the last few hours offered a deal which in many ways seems to be going to the dark ages of any form of mobile contract service.

Netbooks and Laptops are nothing new despite if they are bundled or contracted out with 3G Mobile Broadband, but it does seem that Virgin Media has jumped on the bandwagon and slightly missed the point. The point being that Netbooks are meant to be cheap – to make up for the annoyingly small keypad and tiny screen you almost get the freebie of a dongle which will allow you to connect to the net – the whole point of the NETbook!

It appears the Netbook offered with one of the ‘freedom’ plans the Netbook offered seems to be a re branded version of the Zoostorm Freedom, which by all accounts is a pretty good Netbook. Full Spec Available Here

Unfortunately the glaring error here is that the Netbook does not contain a sim card slot which means you have to carry a dongle and plug it into to the USB slot when ever you want to use it. Another problem I can see as can Mobile Computer Mag, is that like a lot of ‘good deals’ its actually cheaper to buy the Netbook and take a contract separately. with the Freedom Plan costing a cool £744 for a two year no opt out contract… My advice would be to purchase seperately and take out a Pay As You Go Mobile Broadband dongle instead, that way no hassle, cancel and move on at any time!

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Cumbria its fair to say is a nice place – the kind of British Tourist resort which each year sees thousands of visitor trample over its beautiful scenery. The Majority of its residents are rurally based which of course has its pros and cons, there is even a dedicated tourism website. Its also fair to say that despite it being a technically rural community, it isn’t in the dark ages when it comes to the recent digital revolution. Yes, you can use and buy a mobile phone and even a Computer or perhaps is your truly self important a Netbook.

Now im fairly interested in technology and especially the advancements in mobile connectivity all across the UK. WiMAX is one such technology.

Right, so lets not get to interested in a technology which poor old Cumbria cant get. At present Cumbria is really struggling to get any form of fast online connection. With Speeds running to just 2Mbps. Which obviously is not ideal and slightly frustrating.

Rory Cellan-Jones one of the BBC’s technology Journalists recently traveled to Cumbria to speak to a project where local people are joining in the work, manually to install a 20Mbps connection for all.

For the Video in question please click here(Damn HTML Stealing Which hashes things up!)

Lindsey Annison is one such online speed reformer:

On a really good day I can get a 1Mbps connection but you can’t do anything with it. I can’t use Skype for example, Outlying farms can’t get anything…

As I said earlier Cumbria has by no means been bypassed by the Digital Revolution. For Example the North West Development Agency last year spent £19m on a wireless Mobile Broadband and running hardwired fibre optic cable to a deprived estate near Carlisle.

In Ms Annisons words this has been a failure.

It hasn’t made the slightest bit of difference. I haven’t found anyone in Cumbria who is getting a connection off of that wireless network…

Daniel Heery is a self proclaimed ‘fibre warrior’ who is running a project named ‘Fibre Moor‘ which is community run and built. Locals are helping to dig trenches and lay cable . There are roughly 1000 houses in the are which will eventually benefit, at present by the end of summer 2009 only 20 houses however will be connected.

As Mr Heery says…

Community led approaches things like a farmer lending a day of time to dig trench can save a fortune. Alas, in a world of litigation and health and safety rules this may carry risks. They could damage an existing infrastructure, or cause an accident…

Subscribers to the scheme will have to pay £100 to upgrade there connection which is currently a wireless connection giving speeds of ‘up‘ to 2Mbps. Long term prices have not been agreed but Mr. Heery has said the premium services prices will not be ‘astronomical’.

I think this type of community-led option will be the only option in rural areas. Local people can drive take-up levels. We have local people doing it and they will tell their mates and that kind of word-of-mouth will be vital.

Please click here for more information on this subject.

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