Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forFebruary, 2008 | back to home

29 February 2008
Filed under:Mobile phone and PDA,Personal at12:20 pm

tape player
I’ve lost my lovely iPod Nano and can’t find the MP3 player/radio/USB stick I had as a backup either. My phone is so old it doesn’t have an MP3 player in it and I can’t even find my old portable CD player, so I am back to using gasp! a tape player. It felt really ‘old school’ to be putting a tape into a device to listen to music. The upside is that I have stuff on tape I haven’t transferred to anything else and thus haven’t listened to for ages…

And if I tire of tape I can always dig up my minidisc player. But I am hoping that once we have established the iPod is definitely not somewhere around the house (and since my birthday is coming up!) I can justify getting an iPod Touch. The new Skypephone I also hope to get has an MP3 player of course, but now that I have all my playlists and podcasts in iTunes I am kinda trapped by Apple’s ease of use goodness…

27 February 2008

I am rather amused by my local paper’s story about it with the headline Earthquake Shakes Haringey too which went on to indicate nothing was damaged, nobody hurt and that almost nobody even noticed it happened. For more on the quake from where it was noticed check this out.

25 February 2008
Filed under:Gadgets,Mobile phone and PDA at5:40 pm

I’m thinking of signing up for their Skypephone service.
1) I would be interested in hearing people’s experiences with 3 in general and (if possible) with the Skypephone in particular.
2) If you are a 3 contract user use this form to “recommend a friend”. Then let me know you’ve done this via comments and I’ll contact you and give you my email address and that of my wife to use as “friends” if we decide to go ahead and buy. You get £60, we get £60 and 3 gets two more customers.
3) If you are reading this and work at 3mobilebuzz or know someone who does, could you ask them to get in touch and send me a trial phone or two? If I have to try out the Skypephone the old-fashioned way (buying one) I might post a short bit about my experiences (and of course I might decide to stick with my existing phone). If 3 are good enough to send me the phone I will keep up my end of the deal and write something substantial about my experiences with it (though as you’d expect I won’t be swayed one way or another in my evaluation by their generosity).

22 February 2008

A depressing New Yorker article The Water Cure reveals that water torture was being perpetrated by Americans during wartime and debated more than a century ago – in this case, in the Phillippines. In a number of ways the debate then echoed what we hear today about waterboarding.

11 February 2008

Thanks to a BBC programme, Costing the Earth, I just heard about Desertec, a proposal to provide 10-25% of Europe’s electricity via solar power panels in the deserts of North Africa. What I thought was particularly impressive is the claim that the solar panels could provide a three-fold benefit for these African nations. They’d sell the power, of course, but they would also get desalinated water (because this is needed to run the power plants) and they could grow crops in the shade of the giant mirrors! I always thought that the problem with remote electricity generation like this would be the losses in transmission over long distances but the people behind this concept claim that by using High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) these losses would only amount to 10-15% of the power generated.

I have no idea whether this would be feasible, technically, politically or economically, (one critic says it would cost 0.15-0.20 euros per KWh – about double what we pay for power currently) but it sure sounds appealing on the face of it.

8 February 2008

I bought a freeview box (UK digital TV across the airwaves) a few years ago to act as a backup to my cable TV. Within a year it had broken. Since then I moved house and thought I would try again. I bought a pretty cheap set top box (the Philips DTR 220) and an even cheaper antenna but I didn’t anticipate any problems. We’re close to the centre of London and on top of a hill, 87m above sea level. By sheer coincidence we are also just over 2Km away from Alexandra Palace where the first British TV signals were broadcast from (the antenna is there still but it doesn’t broadcast TV any more I don’t think). However, when I plugged everything in I could barely get any channels at all (and that by wandering around the room clutching the antenna).

I’m kind of stuck with Sky in any case as I get my broadband cheap from them as well, but it would have been nice to have had an alternative. I might be able to get Freeview properly with a roof antenna but I don’t much feel like spending significant sums on something that is just meant as a way of watching one channel while recording another without investing in Sky+ (another £100-£150).

Will things get any better once we go digital TV-only in 2012? Guess I’ll have to wait and find out…