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

Archive forOctober, 2008 | back to home

30 October 2008
Filed under:Gadgets,Mobile phone and PDA,Wireless at11:15 am

Here in the UK the iPod Touch starts at £169. The iPhone, which has a couple more features and makes phone calls is “free” but to get that deal you have to pay £45 or more a month to the  o2 network (which has exclusive access). I was hoping that the “google phone” might change things – after all, Google charges nothing for the operating system and I thought they might want to price aggressively to challenge Apple in the market but no – the new G1 is also only available on one network and only on tariffs of £40 a month or more.

Is it really still so expensive to build smart phones? I just want something which would cost like an iPod Touch and be available with a £10 a month tariff. The new Skypephone looks OK but I remember the previous model’s PC syncing was crap and its mac syncing was non-existent (see my earlier negative experiences with 3 and the original Skypephone). Guess I’ll have to keep waiting a while longer to replace my increasingly embarassing five year old T610. Unless one of you has any ideas?

23 October 2008

You may have my main blog feed in your RSS readers but did you realise that I am now producing seven RSS feeds? (plus a stream of status updates which are hopefully only available to friends on facebook, twitter and jaiku).

Most of the feeds are linked from this blog somewhere – the exceptions being the feed for my academic group weblog and that for my lastfm listening. But if you want all of my public media consumption and both micro and macro-publishing, go to http://friendfeed.com/davidbrake/ and get the One True Feed…

22 October 2008
Filed under:About this blog,Useful web resources at12:47 pm

Those who are reading this blog via RSS readers are already getting automatically alerted to new content but if you don’t like using them or don’t know how try this tool.

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18 October 2008
Filed under:Uncategorized at10:55 am

An interesting article on using nuclear power to solve our CO2 problems both because of where it is (in the New Statesman, a prominent left wing journal) and because just for a change the extensive comments afterwards actually appear to be largely from people with useful information to add.

14 October 2008

British Telecom has just announced its fibre to the home trial offering (potentially) 40MBits/sec Internet and data connections. One of the two telephone exchanges where it will be trialled is in Muswell Hill, just 2km away – unfortunately, our exchange is Upper Holloway, 1.3km away in the other direction.

Filed under:Gadgets at10:56 am

A Macbook with accelerated graphics (ie a game-able notebook at a just-about-reasonable price). Now all I have to do is figure out how to convince my budget-holder that I need to replace my iBook G4…

9 October 2008

I found a way around the problem I complained of earlier – having no way to publish my list of subscribed podcasts from iTunes. Check out the list I just added at the right about two thirds of the way down and enjoy a great selection of largely speech-based podcast goodness. And just above that check out the list of posts I have read on others’ blogs and elected to share via Google Reader because I found them interesting.

8 October 2008

Even though I am a media junkie and have been following the financial crisis I have until now found it difficult to find trustworthy sources that would explain to me in simple terms:

1) Why is it all going pear-shaped?
2) To what extent will the US government’s plan fix the problem?
3) What will it cost (because the $700bn figure is not all going to just get spent without any return now or in future to the taxpayer)?
4) Is there a better way to try to solve the problem?
5) Who is to blame and what can we/should we do to them?

The This American Life radio programme helped once before with their excellent Giant Pool of Money episode on sub-prime mortgages. They have rushed out a new episode, Another Frightening Show about the Economy from the same reporting team (Alex Blumberg and some folks from NPR news). I have to say I found it less enlightening – probably because it had to fit a lot more in – but it still helped. If you don’t want to listen to the programme (though I think you should) here’s what I took away:

1) Greedy speculators found ways to gamble on the health of companies without facing government regulation that would have limited the amount of leverage they could use.
2) It’s not clear if the bailout will work, but hey we’ve got to try something!
3) We don’t know how much of the money we’re putting on the table we’re likely to lose.
4) We should be pushing Paulson to use the latitude built into the legislation to push for “stock injection” instead of just buying up bad debt. In other words don’t just give the banks money to bail them out for their crappy decisions, insist on some equity so if the bailout works the government has some assets for all that spending.
5) TAL doesn’t really tell us who to lynch – looks like the decision not to regulate was made in a bipartisan way.

PS the NPR team also has a daily weblog Planet Money and podcast to help you track developments. A good summary of their answers to questions 3 and 4 is here.

If anyone has alternative answers to my questions I would be interested to hear them – send me a comment!

Update: I see that the UK bailout looks like the stock injection option that NPR suggests most economists would favour…