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If technology doesn't seem like magic, it's probably obsolete

I'm finding less time to update my blog these days, but my flickr photostream is often updated.

Playing in my house right now...

At 00:00 GMT on Thursday I was listening to:

More of what I've been listening to

Latest pictures from my phone

www.flickr.com
More pictures from my phone


Friday October 31 2003 at 12:39 GMT

Over the last few evenings, we've had some really great-looking skies, quite often in my direct line of vision from my desk. Now I know why. I'm going to try and get a few photos.

Friday October 31 2003 at 12:35 GMT

The Nokia N-gage has prompted a new craze: sidetalkin'.

Friday October 31 2003 at 12:30 GMT

Godfather boxsetLast night I had a few quick beers with my bro. On my way home, I passed by HMV, where a portion of the 3000 tickets for the MTV Gardens concert were to be handed out. There was already a queue of people forming at 1am in the rain, so I decided to be there sharp this morning. I was, but the tickets had already gone. Grrrr.

There are already two listings on ebay, both kicking off at forty quid for two. I'm taking a stand and refusing to pay that much (and I ***may*** be able to squeeze in for free), but in case anyone has one spare ticket and feels like helping me out, please let me know...

On the brighter side, I finally picked up the Godfather boxset, which I've been after for quite some time. Yes, I know HMV sucks, but they were offering it for 30 quid instead of 50. I'm quite excited about seeing the films -- I've only ever seen part of the first one. Being a Godfather myself, I'm interested to see how much carries over from real life into the film, and vice-versa. ;-)

[Update on Sunday 2nd November at 17.55 GMT]: It seems the whole ticket handout hasn't quite gone to plan, leaving a lot of people unhappy. Jim pointed me to another Edinburgh blogger who thinks we should just be happy with our lot, before the world thinks we are just whiners. I disagree. What exactly is the point of STACKS of our tax money going on an event that is going to do absolutely nothing for the residents of Edinburgh. Yes, more people may come and visit us and bring cash into the city, but surely, for MTV to knock out a (relatively) small concert in Edinburgh should be part of the fun of the whole event. Either way, I'm still looking for a ticket...

Thursday October 30 2003 at 11:24 GMT

Thursday October 30 2003 at 01:23 GMT

This message is a test, and will disappear shortly. blah@blah.blah

Thursday October 30 2003 at 01:05 GMT

[Via Simon Willison] Steven Garrity details the pain he's gone through looking after his parents computer, which has quickly become infested with spyware and other junk, and asks Do we all need a personal system administrator?

I can completely empathise with him on this one. My parents are pretty good with their computer, but one of the recent virus attacks prompted me to check everything was up-to-date on their XP box. After over three hours downloading XP updates over a 56k modem, I was almost in tears. Mix in a few friends, multiply by cousins and season with uncles, and the time consumed is not insignificant.

Using the good old 80/20 rule, I think the large majority of people could be perfectly happy computer users with a significantly simplified device -- email, browser, word processor, spreadsheet, instant messenger & printing capabilities would almost cover it. Sticking that lot on a box with an auto-updating virus checker would remove so many of the support calls without noticeably impinging on flexibility. Many people happily live in this space. A carefully configured XP box can almost do the job ... but you need someone to do that initial configuration. The key word in that second sentence was could. A grand at PCWorld can buy you a whole lot of trouble: scanners, printers, webcams, a broadband connection, some wireless networking ... and you're quickly back in the personal tech support arena.

As noted in the replies to Steven's original article, somewhere in there is a fulltime job (I know -- I've looked for it quite a few times already). Here are the problems:

  • people are used to referring to their local expert, getting advice for free. Suddenly charging friends fifty pounds an hour to install a virus checker is just not going to go down well.
  • the job could easily become very boring. Installing a wireless router is only a challenge so many times
For sure, technology is not going away. It looks like we are going to need personal tech consultants, but hopefully with these kinds of discussions going on, we can pool our experiences and figure out neat solutions to address that 80% of users who need a simple box for reading their mail, minimising the routine jobs. Then we can deal with that other 20% who have the interesting issues, and, ideally, are ready to pay for experience and knowledge.

[Note to my friends, cousins, siblings and uncles: no, I'm not about to start charging you for help; yes, I'll still help you unbreak your computer and set up your moblog. ;-) ]

Wednesday October 29 2003 at 23:46 GMT [via mobile]

Pink clockfaces on the Balmoral Hotel for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  ThinkPink.

Pink clockfaces on the Balmoral Hotel for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. ThinkPink.

Wednesday October 29 2003 at 13:35 GMT

I'm not sure if Yell have been doing this for a while or not, but I really love the walking and driving directions now available. Here's an example of me walking from work to the gym. The route taken is certainly scenic, but if I was lost somewhere and could quickly pull up a set of directions on my phone that did the job, I'd be happy. The mapping service is something I've used on yell.com for a long time, especially for visitors both at work and at home, but this adds a very handy new function.

Wednesday October 29 2003 at 13:23 GMT [via mobile]

Wednesday October 29 2003 at 13:20 GMT [via mobile]

Looks like the service is now live in Edinburgh. I just need a car to test it with now.

Looks like the service is now live in Edinburgh. I just need a car to test it with now.

Wednesday October 29 2003 at 13:01 GMT [via mobile]

WAH -- Habitat has the Christmas decorations out already!

WAH -- Habitat has the Christmas decorations out already!

Wednesday October 29 2003 at 01:41 GMT

I think I keep up with online music goings-on, but the latest from R.E.M. is really impressing me. So, yeah, they're pushing a 'new' album, but they're going all out on the tech side of things. Live Internet concert broadcasts and now you can watch 40 videos and 50 live performances online, all for free. Man, some of the stuff on there I have NEVER seen. Thank goodness for broadband!

Wednesday October 29 2003 at 01:31 GMT

Sign the petition to have the firmware on your P800 updated to P900 levels (UIQ 2.1) here.

Wednesday October 29 2003 at 01:19 GMT

Homepod There are just going to be more and more of these kinds of devices coming on stream. This looks pretty nice.

Similar in many ways to my SliMP3, but with a nice little built in colour screen, customisable Java interface, wireless and speakers.

Speaking of my SliMP3, I have to admit that it still isn't fully installed! I've got it hooked up to a spare ME102 I had, but the playback is not continually smooth, even across my quiet wireless network. Further investigation required.

Tuesday October 28 2003 at 13:11 GMT

MTV roll into town on the 6th of November (well, there is a lot of stuff rolling in now, but the performers roll in on the 6th). There is a teeny-tiny chance I may be involved right on the periphery...

The cool news is that the Flaming Lips are playing a free concert in Princes Street Gardens. Something to really look forward to!

Tuesday October 28 2003 at 13:07 GMT

For Neil's 30th birthday, Simon and I got him the little dongle that lets you do PS2 network gaming. I then persuaded Neil to invest in some wireless networking tech for his house, to get rid of a nasty big wire that runs down his hall and to let him be more flexible with his computer usage. I got the network into phase 1 (testing) over the last few days, and the PS2 hooked up yesterday, wirelessly. I decided I'd get one for myself so that I can play Gran Turismo online, but so far, the release date is set as '2004'. Looks like I'll be saving my pennies for some time yet.

Monday October 27 2003 at 01:43 GMT

Nice car, dad

Today has been really nice. I think I could quite happily live a lot more days like this (UH HUH). We had lunch (from 1.30pm to 5pm) at Lochgreen, which was just voted the best hotel in Scotland & Nothern Ireland by the AA thanks to my Uncle Cameron, who has been over from the States for the last three weeks. We started with canapes in the drawing room, then lunch itself, finishing with a tasty cheese selection. Back to the drawing room for coffee and port. Ahh, yes.

There were plenty of nice cars in the car park, but dad decided to take his own car home. Nice wheels, huh? ;-) Ther rest of the pictures from today are here.

Monday October 27 2003 at 01:37 GMT [via mobile]

One of my oldest and most respected friends is now a year older.  He recently told me this wise sayiny: Perfect Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance.  Word.

One of my oldest and most respected friends is now a year older. He recently told me this wise sayiny: Perfect Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance. Word.

Sunday October 26 2003 at 20:06 GMT

GRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! My email is now working again, however something like 300+ images I uploaded since Thursday (the day before I started having email problems) have 'disappeared' from my account, and no-one knows where they have gone(!). Re-uploading taking place right now. Steam from ears dying down, slightly.

Sunday October 26 2003 at 02:08 GMT

Concorde by video phone On the photo roll, I've just posted my Concorde pictures. I had high hopes for the takeoff pictures, but that was not to be.

On Friday morning, quite a few of us went to the tenth floor in our building to watch Concorde come in. It looked absolutely fabulous. I felt I really had to see and hear it take off, so I left the office about at about 1.20, for the 2pm takeoff. Normally the airport bus jets out to the airport with little effort. Of course, today the bus was (very) late, plus there were roadworks and the road was busy anyway. I changed transport methods after one stop, opting for a personal bus instead! At 2pm on the nose, my taxi was finally somewhere I thought I could get a vantage point, so I jumped out and zoomed across a road, close to the fence. Luckily for me, the takeoff was slightly delayed, by about 20 minutes, giving me time to get a videocall placed to work (twenty tries to place one call is not a great way to increase usage!).

My vantage point turned out to be spot on, giving me a very clear view of Concorde. It was a fabulous thing to behold, but having two phones and a camera in my hand certainly didn't help me capture a good picture. :-( Thankfully plenty of others did.

I really was sad to see Concorde go. Yes, there are plenty of financial and environmental issues raised by the plane, however it was an incredible technological achievement (as well as looking great) and to be saying goodbye to it when there is nothing better to replace it seems strange in this Moore's law world.

Since the retiral was stated, I really have considered splashing the cash and going for a ride, but I just did not have the cash (cheapest ticket was 2k, going Concorde one way, economy back). Ah well.

The BBC has a great site covering all things Concorde, and the Guardian has three good articles. Time for me to go and shed a tear.

Sunday October 26 2003 at 01:20 GMT

When I was putting up the Taynish pictures, I found a stack of others I had kind of forgotten about. I've just posted galleries for our family weekend, Viv's 21st and the end of festival fireworks. My camera certainly feels lighter now!

Sunday October 26 2003 at 01:14 GMT

Looks like my mail is playing up at the moment. It doesn't seem to be being bounced, but I'm certainly not getting it. I'm speaking to my ISP...

Saturday October 25 2003 at 22:07 GMT [via mobile]

I thought l had lost this picture when my phone reformatted but lo, it has resurfaced!  This was taken as we headed along the side of a picture perfect Loch Lomond, en route to Taynish.

I thought l had lost this picture when my phone reformatted but lo, it has resurfaced! This was taken as we headed along the side of a picture perfect Loch Lomond, en route to Taynish.

Saturday October 25 2003 at 17:33 GMT

This is VERY cool. My friend Jenny who was at Taynish with us, is in a movie up for the Best UK Feature Film at the Raindance Film Festival in London. Lots of positive thoughts for her! The film is called mandancin' and you can get more info and see clips here.

I called her with my congratulations, and she pointed me to a short film she was in called The Girl in the Lay-by. You can go to this cool site and watch it!

The Raindance jury deliver their verdict on November 7th, so as soon as I hear any more information, I'll update.

Friday October 24 2003 at 13:39 GMT [via mobile]

Concorde has now left the building.

Concorde has now left the building.

Friday October 24 2003 at 13:37 GMT [via mobile]

No way, it actually worked!

No way, it actually worked!

Friday October 24 2003 at 13:06 GMT [via mobile]

Waiting for takeoff!

Waiting for takeoff!

Friday October 24 2003 at 11:37 GMT [via mobile]

Notice any change in the moblog?

Notice any change in the moblog?

Friday October 24 2003 at 10:58 GMT [via mobile]

Look hard!

Look hard!

Friday October 24 2003 at 00:10 GMT [via mobile]

Quality jazz guitar from Kevin Mackenzie.

Quality jazz guitar from Kevin Mackenzie.

Thursday October 23 2003 at 18:57 GMT [via mobile]

Meeting dwlt.net for beer & jazz.

Meeting dwlt.net for beer & jazz.

Thursday October 23 2003 at 12:51 GMT

Gorgeous sea and hills view with superb sunset I'm still knocking together the story of our weekend away in the wilds, but for now I've got a whole stack of photos online. Several of the others had digital cameras with them, so I'm hoping and expecting to be posting some more pictures shortly.

This picture was taken from the end of the peninsula we were on, looking towards Ulva. The views we had travelling to the house and whilst we were there truly took my breath away at times. Scotland really is beautiful.

Here are the galleries:

Tuesday October 21 2003 at 23:45 GMT

I've just returned from a super quality weekend. We took a house way out west (info here) and had a LOT of fun, especially when the electricity (supplied by diesel generator) died and with it our water supply. There is LOTS more to come, as soon as I get a chance to knock the hundreds of photos I took into some order.

Thursday October 16 2003 at 15:45 GMT [via mobile]

Amazing scenery!

Amazing scenery!

Wednesday October 15 2003 at 23:32 GMT

A short piece from CNN about R.E.M. and their usage of WiFi. One of my favourite bands plus tech; great! They're doing some reasonably interesting stuff over at their site too.

Tuesday October 14 2003 at 22:21 GMT

Somehow I forgot my own blog birthday! I've now been blogging for over two years! It is also 10 (ten!) years since I first used email and set up my own Web site! Plus, I've now known several good friends, including Rich, Iain, Grant and dwlt, for over ten years. Man, time passes furiously fast.

Tuesday October 14 2003 at 13:20 GMT

Another Mobitopia story
Three in Denmark

Yesterday Three launched in Denmark (Danish), but thankfully they do seem to be learning.

As I said previously, Three needed to get video calling sorted, make proper Internet access available and work on their content, for them to survive in the market. Incredibly, it seems all these areas have been addressed!

Video calling is now included in the regular package costs. You can get 150, 300 or 600 minutes of voice or video calling for EUR 20, EUR 33 and EUR 60 respectively. These charges put video calling equal to or cheaper than normal voice calling. THIS is how to kickstart subscribers actually using video calling on your network and gain some positive publicity for it!

Internet access packages are being offered. You can either pay EUR 4/month and then EUR 1.5/MB or else EUR 50 for 50MB. If true 3G speeds approaching 384kbps can be reached, this is going to look attractive compared to what is out there at the moment.

On the content front, it looks like Three are making some changes (English link) to their previous approach. Advertising for content partners who can do unique, creative and exciting things on the main page of their English site is a good step forward, although I can't see it on the main Danish language site.

As always, there is a downside. There's only one phone on offer! The Motorola A920, locked, is all that is available at launch. It seems that that will change when the A835 rolls out, but then, a choice of two Motorolas only. It looks like those rumours of NEC handset supplies drying up are true.

So, Three move bravely forward, learning as they go. Let us hope that they apply these changes to the current setups in the UK, Italy and elsewhere.

Big thanks to Isaack Rasmussen for the heads up on this as well as translating the key information and some background.

Tuesday October 14 2003 at 07:11 GMT [via mobile]

Birthday food with Sandy. Very happy birthday.

Birthday food with Sandy. Very happy birthday.

Sunday October 12 2003 at 17:16 GMT

Another Mobitopia article
Fixed line Internet access vs mobile penetration

This weeks edition of The Economist has a great special survey covering telecoms, from mobile through fixed line and broadband to equipment suppliers. Unfortunately, all but the first article requires paid subscription to view online, so it may be cheaper to just pick up a hard copy. Here's a few if the highlights...

The first few paragraphs of Beyond the Bubble (no subscription required) cover a quick bit of history of telecoms which I found interesting:
IT ALL started with a ball hoisted up a flagpole. International telecommunications began in 1801, when the first link was established between the optical telegraph systems of Sweden and Denmark. Both networks consisted of lines of towers, each with a set of moveable panels on top. By replicating the configuration of panels at the next tower along the line, it was possible to transmit messages over great distances with unprecedented speed. Such were the military benefits of this technology that a telecoms boom ensued.

Faced with the threat of an attack by the British fleet under Admiral Nelson, Sweden and Denmark had linked their telegraph networks to give them early warning. When Nelson attacked Copenhagen on April 2nd 1801, the news was transmitted to Sweden using the first ever network-to-network (or “internet”) protocol. The panels on the Danish telegraph tower at Kronborg were configured to indicate that Copenhagen had been attacked. Across the Oresund strait, the Swedes hoisted a flag to show that they had received the message. The system worked flawlessly—except that the Swedes did nothing to aid Denmark, and the Danish fleet was defeated. Not for the last time, the expectations raised by international telecommunications were disappointed.

On of the most important statistics I took from the article was that nearly twice as many people have a mobile phone subscription as use the Internet -- this is massive! Give the substantially lower cost of owning a phone compared to a computer (I'm generalising) this shouldn't seem SO surprising, but double ... wow! Further, in developing countries, mobile phones are routinely the first phones people have, bypassing the decrepit infrastructure of fixed line operators. These phones are ofen shared amongst others. Whilst it is very safe to assume that the phones we're talking about here are not the latest handsets with XHTML browsers, cameras and colour screens they will still have basic functionality which will only increase. Taking the penetration and growth information, the opportunities for services (both commercial and non-commercial) are absolutely huge.

Several of the articles conclude that mobile telecom operators should now be spending their money on services and buying hardware for provding those services, as opposed to core bandwidth which is now seem as ample with newer technologies. As we know, data services are where it is going to be at in the future. Julian Horn-Smith, Vodafone's COO, has a few interesting quotes: We need to see things from the point of view of the customer rather than the supplier [...] Frankly, which kind of technology is driving those services is of secondary interest. He also goes on to talk about moving to 3G services, aiming to get people hooked on Vodafone Live! (doing pretty well so far) and then gently move users over to 3G. "... so we won't market 3G per se -- quite a change from the past hype, as the article says.

Other articles in the survey cover Vonage, a company and technology I had heard of briefly but who seem to be on to a real winner with voice over broadband and WiFi: Unless WiFi is added to mobile phones, most people will not carry a WiFi-capable device, so hotspots will have limited appeal.

The message for us all is pretty clear: think mobile services.

Sunday October 12 2003 at 12:50 GMT [via mobile]

The bus from my village to Glasgow is kind of empty...

The bus from my village to Glasgow is kind of empty...

Sunday October 12 2003 at 11:07 GMT

This weekend is Camp FOO (Friend of O'Reilly). Matt is out there representing the Mobi crew. Check out his moblog and real blog for pics and more. Looks like it's a lot of fun!

Saturday October 11 2003 at 15:42 GMT [via mobile]

My uncle is over from the States.

My uncle is over from the States.

Friday October 10 2003 at 00:32 GMT

Two pieces of dwlt related news. Firstly, he has blogged his email thoughts. Good work. Secondly, he has joined the throng at #mobitopia and I no longer IM with him. Like he said, 2003 is an inflection point.

On that inflection note ... Russ is making a break for it back to Califor-nea-aiii-ay. Gotta love the nonchalant approach he's taking to changing country! Word to that style.

Friday October 10 2003 at 00:13 GMT

Yesterday I had to come home during my lunch hour. I hopped on a bus ... only to get stuck at the next stop. There had been an accident closing Bruntsfield Place (one of the main roads into town, and my route home). Walking up the road was VERY spooky, despite a large police presence and plenty of other people walking. It truly was an unearthly silence.

Once I got to the scene of the accident, it was even weirder. A bus was stopped at the side of the road, a car was on the other with a bash in it. Then there was a motorbike in the middle of the road, lying there. A big green motorbike, not some flashy idiot bike.

I made it home then walked back past the scene as the vehicles were being removed, unsure what had actually happened... Today's Scotsman has the full story, and it doesn't make good reading. :-(

Thursday October 9 2003 at 15:22 GMT [via mobile]

Three services have had a makeover. The initial page takes even longer to load now. Result!

Three services have had a makeover. The initial page takes even longer to load now. Result!

Wednesday October 8 2003 at 22:25 GMT [via mobile]

Jenny is my token famous-actor-friend. :-)

Jenny is my token famous-actor-friend. :-)

Wednesday October 8 2003 at 10:07 GMT [via mobile]

Giving Rich a hand with some fast wirelessness.

Giving Rich a hand with some fast wirelessness.

Tuesday October 7 2003 at 14:18 GMT

Woohoo -- if you run a google image search for mad fireworks, I'm the top entry! Unfortunately, the picture is not really so mad fireworks, but there you go. I rock.

Monday October 6 2003 at 23:06 GMT [via mobile]

Found this alcohol-free beer when I was tidying, a year out of date!

Found this alcohol-free beer when I was tidying, a year out of date!

Monday October 6 2003 at 00:18 GMT

Just what I need -- something else to buy! The SonyEricsson P900 is going to be announced on October 26th, according to Mr Orlowski (who links to Jim's Mobi article!). There are already pictures on Howard Forums and AllAboutSymbian. Shipping is looking like it will be happening in November, which could work nicely for me!

Sunday October 5 2003 at 23:30 GMT

So, another weekend has jetted past. Friday was drinks with Anurag at Monboddo, and then a quality late night speed curry at The Bangalore.

Saturday had an was an early start, when I headed off to collect a mystery parcel from the Parcelforce depot. It took me a while to get there, and when I get home and opened it, I found I'd accidently been sent the wrong thing (a bread bin, instead of a pedal bin). After a good birthday lunch for my mum at Cafe Marlayne (mussles cooked in goats cheese and Pernod were out of this world) I got down to John Lewis and got my bin situation sorted. I also picked up a washing bowl, so my kitchen is looking clean and smart now. :-)

I caught up with Neil and the boys for a few drinks just up the road on Saturday night. The Merlin held an incredible cross-section of people, from a group that must have been out all day, through two weirdly dressed couples, to a hen night where the dress code appeared to be less is best. Neil and Colin gave some great commentary on one and all, so it was for our own safety that we eventually left. Someone was bound to finally overhear the million decibel thoughts of the drunkards.

On Sunday, I once again was up sharp, to do some online catching up, and then lunch with Robbie et al. Now it's time for some more online catchup. As Rafe has just said, "I'm suffering from time compression"! Why is there no commodity market trading time?

Sunday October 5 2003 at 23:11 GMT

Dave has just come back from holiday, to quite a volume of mail, of which less than 5% was worth reading (he's going to detail this better himself) and we were discussing how things have moved on.

Over the last week or so, I've really noticed a big change in the way I get new information. Email used to be a big thing for me, but now I actually get mostly spam (grrr) and notification emails, plus a few friends mail me (these, of course, make email totally worthwhile :-). The rest of the time, personal conversations are carried out via instant messenger, SMS or else even voice on a (mobile) phone. Tech information, which all used to come via email, is now almost exclusively delivered via my aggregator (using RSS) and it is often then pulped and discussed on #mobitopia.

Email, once the killer app, does now seem to have had its day. Filtering all the junk out is just such a timewasting experience, both on the developer front and on the end user side of things, plus it is all too fiddly for the regular person in the street to set up decent filters at a server level, to save themselves downloading all the junk in the first place. Once again, it's all coming back to RSS! My brain is kind of fuzzy on this right now -- I'm sure Dave's post will be significantly more enlightening!

Saturday October 4 2003 at 23:45 GMT [via mobile]

A few quiet beers goes all wrong for Neil.

A few quiet beers goes all wrong for Neil.

Friday October 3 2003 at 22:13 GMT [via mobile]

I know them.

I know them.

Friday October 3 2003 at 21:27 GMT [via mobile]

More of Anur-dude.

More of Anur-dude.

Friday October 3 2003 at 19:44 GMT [via mobile]

Kathryn, Keith & Anurag @ Monboddo.

Kathryn, Keith & Anurag @ Monboddo.

Friday October 3 2003 at 19:37 GMT [via mobile]

Beers with the dude.

Beers with the dude.

Friday October 3 2003 at 00:12 GMT

Time flies. Here's what has happened:
  • Robbie got to be 2; I got to buy lots of cool Lego for him, and then show him how it went together. All afternoon. And evening. [Bonus Lego link here].
  • my parents are on holiday in North Berwick, so I popped down to see them last night. We had a great walk around, then they made great food and I ate it all. :-D
  • I opened the Edinburgh chapter of the Thursday Curry Club today at lunchtime. I'm waiting for my membership pass
  • Mr Shukla, a long-time work friend with whom I share a lot of fun stories and memories, heads back to his native Croydon India tomorrow. All the best, dude! Drinks tomorrow are at Monboddo. All welcome.
  • The weekend is mine ... apart from birthday lunch for my mum, some computer work (four flavours!) and chilling out with Robbie

Thursday October 2 2003 at 12:27 GMT [via mobile]

De-licious!

De-licious!

Thursday October 2 2003 at 12:23 GMT [via mobile]

The man himself.

The man himself.

Thursday October 2 2003 at 11:41 GMT [via mobile]

Throwing some Nepalese action into the mix!

Throwing some Nepalese action into the mix!

Wednesday October 1 2003 at 21:21 GMT [via mobile]

It looked lovely. Hope this picture does it justice.

It looked lovely. Hope this picture does it justice.

Wednesday October 1 2003 at 21:17 GMT [via mobile]

The RNLI guys decided to do a training launch. Very cool.

The RNLI guys decided to do a training launch. Very cool.

Wednesday October 1 2003 at 21:14 GMT [via mobile]

Looking out. The sky was beautiful!

Looking out. The sky was beautiful!

Wednesday October 1 2003 at 21:04 GMT [via mobile]

In NB to see my parents, where they are on holiday.  This is looking across the bay to the harbour.

In NB to see my parents, where they are on holiday. This is looking across the bay to the harbour.

Wednesday October 1 2003 at 15:50 GMT

Mobitopia articleThree are once again pushing content as their rasion d'etre. How does their offering improve over what is currently available via, say, WAP and SMS?

Last weekend I was out, waiting for a friend, and needed some weather information to plan the rest of the day. I had time to kill, so took a leap into the world of content known as Three. Ignoring the pitiful download speeds I (and others) get in and around Edinburgh, and the pain of using a Three handset (mine is an NEC e606), here are my thoughts from the experience.

For kick off, here's the Three content costs: A 5p; B 10p; C 25p; D 50p; E 70p; F 100p; G 150p.

Weather

Three weather
As I said, I was looking for some Edinburgh, Saturday afternoon weather information. There is no option to view text-based information, only a weather video. Was my 25p well spent? Not really. The video gave me a very general picture of the weather for the UK as a whole, summing up the entirety of Scotland with a quick "dry with sunny spells" sentence. Anyone who's been to Scotland knows that "dry with sunny spells" sums up the weather most of the year round.

Going to my personalised Yahoo! Weather via WAP on my P800 quickly gave me a localised Edinburgh forecast for the day including the current temperature. The GPRS connection may well have cost me about the same amount, but it was faster and I'm able to set up preferred locations, speeding my information gathering further.

Football

Three football
I'm not a big football fan, but tried to set up a team or two to see how the 'my team' offering worked. Wow. Unless you support Rangers or Celtic (in Scotland) or else an English Division One or Premiership team, you might as well pass right on by.

The goal alerts could be cool if you were a diehard supporter, but I can already get those on my regular GSM phone. There is a slight price discrepancy here in favour of Three, but that can be quickly ignored given the limited range of teams able to be tracked. The Orange service seems to cover all the major football teams, as well as a several other sports.

Finance

Yahoo Finance
Now for some finance news. The Three service is not helping them into the black! Thanks to the dotcom boom all those years ago, I like to track markets and shares on both sides of the Atlantic. My Yahoo! Finance page via WAP handles this with ease.

The Three finance service, on the other hand, would appear to purely monitor UK FTSE shares. Setting up a portfolio was a struggle. Ugh.

Video Calls

Video calls on Three come in at hefty 50p per minute. In the months that I've had my phone, I think I've made perhaps five or six video calls which have actually been useful. So, why have I not used it more and given lots of money to Three? Here are my top three(!) contributing factors:
  1. lack of other people with video phones
  2. lack of other people with video phones
  3. lack of other people with video phones

Video calls are one of Three's biggest USPs -- they should be exploiting that fact like crazy! Getting phones in to the hands of punters needs to be a priority, but launching a PCMCIA card or partnering with an online service to allow video calls directly to PCs would be an ideal approach to getting businesses hooked. They are sorely missing that trick.

Summary

I really admire Three for having the balls to get on with rolling out 3G under harsh market conditions, especially given the reluctance infesting the rest of the industry. They are doing a pretty useless job with their content though. A few weeks ago Tom Hume gave an insight into Three's approach to content and how that differed from the other network operators. Someone at Three needs to take a long hard look at their approach thus far and make some serious changes, and soon. When I can do access richer content faster, cheaper and on a better-suited device, Three are in trouble.

The prospect of fast mobile Internet connectivity still has many people and businesses foaming at the mouth in anticipation but, as Andrew Orlowski notes, Three's "walled garden" approach is putting them off. Three need to get a data card out there and get the corporates playing with the network.

Wednesday October 1 2003 at 14:34 GMT

OK, that is a teensy-weensy lie, but a site I helped bash together, KeepBlaineAwake.com, has made it into the pages of Maxim magazine [free registration sometimes required]. Woohoo!

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