Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Released earlier this year, Skype Group Video Calling, a beta version for Windows users. In order to use this software everyone in the call must all be using the same version of Skype 5.0, but hey it’s a beta.

If this rolls out to other devices then could prove to be a killer app for the mobile social massive.

Find out more at :

http://www.skype.com/intl/en-us/get-skype/on-your-computer/windows/beta/

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The Magic Trackpad effectively brings the features of Apple’s touchscreens to the desktop or MacBook. Having been using the trackpad for a little while now it’s true benefits have become quite clear. Straight of the bat, it’s great to use for regular browsing habits, like websites, email, moving desktop files etc. When it comes to using tools like Word, Pages, Excel, Photoshop and Flash the mouse is still king. But there is no reason why you cannot use the trackpad simultaneously whilst using the mouse, just to balance your cursor movements.

1. RSI. The greatest benefit of the trackpad so far has been able to ease the repetitive strain injury(RSI) factor. My index finger feels like it’s on holiday by being able to use the weight of my hand to create a left or right-click. I can also use the index finger of my left hand for left-clicks, whilst my right hand manoeuvres the mouse, this really makes using the computer relaxing for the hands.

2. Wireless Bluetooth. Another great benefit is the ability to move the track pad around your work area, because the device is wireless. Working at larger distances is fine since the track pad allows users to zoom in and out of screen content.

3. Mouse Movements. Moving the mouse with just your finger can sometimes prove to be more precise. I don’t game on my computer, but it would be interesting to know if your targeting was more precise. The whole reason for the trackpad is the finger movements ; one finger(Mouse Movements), two fingers(Scrolling & Rotating), three fingers(Zooming) or four fingers(Swiping). Swiping is really a genius touch. Using your four fingers you simply swipe across the trackpad, then the programs that you are currently running are shown to you for quick access, like you can see in the image below. Although you can do this already, having the feature with the trackpad just makes it a whole lot easier, especially if your away from your keyboard or desktop.

4. Design. The Magic Trackpad measures in at approximately 5 inches by 5 inches. The door for the batteries (2x AA) is a chrome flat head which runs along the top of the device, whilst the finish of the trackpad has a gray matte look to match. The base of the trackpad houses two buttons which can be set for right and left click, these buttons are also acting as the trackpads rubber stoppers, which is why Apple is Apple. If you happen to own the Apple wireless keyboard, then this device sits seamlessly next to it.

5. Cost. Priced at $69 in the US and £59 in the UK, it’s not absurdly as expensive, but now I cannot imagine life without it, can you put a price on that?

Find out more about the Magic Trackpad at :

USA : http://www.apple.com/magictrackpad/

UK : http://store.apple.com/uk/product/MC380Z/A

In Aug 2007, I decided to leave my current 12 month phone contract and opted for a Sim only deal. Advantages included were not being tied to a contract, I got a reasonable amount of minutes for my buck, and as a bonus there was the choice of a free bolt on, like free 3G web access. But underneath I was preparing to purchase an iPhone.

When it did finally arrive on the market, and although it offered some great features, my HTC hardware was still kicking it’s butt. So began the long wait for an improved iPhone. Now that’s over …phew! It was time to try again. During the time that has passed my contract provider added an extra 100mins to my monthly allowance for free. Bonus. So now all I needed was a new Sim free iPhone iOS4.

The look and feel of this phone is second to none. From the side it looks like a very slick piece of machinery with it’s stainless silver attennaes, and in your hand it’s 149g weight feels like your carrying a mini screen computer that has a phone on it.

Slick Stainless Steel on the iPhone4Image courtesy of Apple

The only protection cover available currently from Apple is the phone is the bumpers. However they are not exactly useful when it comes to plugging in the 3.5mm, because although 90% of the jack can be inserted, the final click is impossible. Some friends have suggested I ask Mr Stanley to cut the edge of the hole. The problem here is that there really is no room for a bigger hole due to the proximity of the top noise cancelling microphone. Anyway the marketplace will soon be awash with cover after cover, and I’m sure they will take this issue into account. But this product is not worth £25, it’s only worth £5 Apple.

Returning now to the phone review…

Battery times have been reasonable so far, lasting 9-5 with a solid caning. But it does still need boosting during the day so do juice up when you can. By monitoring your apps and maybe using some battery status software you can always track your current usage availabilities and make of most of your battery across the day.

Switching to Wi-Fi on an average 5Mb download speed, the phone handles processes fairly quickly. It’s not lightening, but your not having to wait long at all. This makes the phone really useful around Wi-Fi spots in order to handle multiple tasks. I only have a 2.5Mps 3G speed right now, so it’s okay for most apps and sending video by email, however some web pages and particularly video can be extremely slow. But that’s a network issue so we won’t go there right now. Using 3G is still a battery caner, so really stick to as much Wi-Fi as you can for heavy web sites and apps.

The 5Mp camera with its 720 HD video is great and works well in good light. The flash and low light still is no match for a half decent compact. I really miss the anti-shake technology from my compact but software improvements or maybe an app can help there. Hope this is not a hardware issue.

A good part of the look and feel of this phone is due to the slick scratch resistant glass, I really would not attempt to test it since the other day I did accidentally leave a little scratch on the back. But in terms of keeping it clean, a dust cloth is proving to be sufficient.

As for the issue of losing signal, I simply have not experienced any type of issue like this. I do hold the phone in my left hand and I will continue to test this for a while and see if it really does lose signal, but 99% of the time, it’s fine. Most of the time the signal is behaving exactly as it sis on my old HTC.

Usability on screen has also proved to be very straight forward allowing you to easily add, edit or remove apps, set up emails easily, create video,  sending it in seconds via email and switching between Wi-Fi and 3G has been no issue. There are probably lots of other useful aspects to the maneuverability around the phone that I have not mentioned, simply because I am not a veteran iPhone user. Maybe in the near future and after a good few months of use I can report back and question the real limitations of Apple’s on-screen experience. The touch screen sensitivity is spot on and works really well.

Apple has done well to promote Apps and the world is now really understanding why they exist. Finding apps on the iPhone is a fairly straight forward process, but with a few tweaks it could be even better. For example, in the App store you can search for apps via the Genius section. Initially it shows you around 25 apps, then in order to see more there is a button at the bottom of the list to view another 25. However after installing an app from the second page, if you attempt to return to the list, it returns you to the first 25. Obviously this can get really annoying if you are 10 sheets down, or accidentally view an app way when you were just trying to scroll down. Therefore I have no choice but to write down names of apps I like and to search for them later. Other app sources like ‘App Search’ allow you to add apps to a favourite list, come on Apple, this one really is obvious.

This phone as Apple says really does change things and after two weeks in the world of the iPhone and about 300 apps later, it definitely is worth every penny. Human computer interaction has really taken a solid step forwards and the iPhone helps to bring both software and hardware to work seamlessly together, but then again, that’s what Apple are known for.

I am going to be gutted when the 1080HD 10Mp version arrives, and it will one day, because technology will continue to improve year on year. But I feel confident that this phone can handle most of my digital needs for at least the next couple of years and look forward to using/finding great apps which over the near future I will begin to write about.

Find out more about the iPhone at :

http://www.apple.com/uk/iphone/

Find new Apps at  :

App Boy : http://appboy.com/

App Search : http://appsfire.com/

Some rooms could do with a little light, how about a view of the Golden Gate Bridge using a couple of plasmas. But this is not just an image or video playing. As the viewer moves position relative to the plasmas, the view changes also, giving the user a sense that the view is actually real. Nice I like it.

This technology comes from a company called Rational Craft, and the software used is Winscape :

Check out the demo below :

The other day over the Easter break my five year old nephew asked me a straight forward technology based question, he said “Uncle, can you fast forward the adverts on the television because I hate adverts, they are so boring?” When I got in front of the television, I realised he was watching live TV, and explained to him that generally you can only fast forward adverts if you are watching a recorded program, or if you have paused live TV at some point earlier and you are simply catching up to the point of live transmission. Obviously, I had to use other words and maybe showed some examples of how this would work, but I thought wow, do the next gens really hate adverts? Not really, I feel that that the next gens really don’t react to passive media because their world from day dot is all about interactivity. Therefore until the Internet has converged with the TV, (and we really are not too far away from that) then television adverts cannot create conversions like true digital advertising currently does.

During my experience of using the Internet, I realised a long time ago that adverts as a minimum need to be interactive. If I as a consumer have any interest in a company’s product or service, then what I need more than anything is an emotional interactive experience. To date, I have only come across a small number of these styles of adverts. The first was a banner advert for Gran Turismo 4. It was not just a simple banner advert, it was an invitation to interact with a brand that I love. The advert asked me to play a few videos, and position the in built camera within the video to a point that would capture, what I thought would be a great photograph. The images were then submitted into a competition. I was on that advert for 2 hours, yes that’s right, 2 hours. That is the power of digital advertising, yet still thousands of companies spend thousands of pounds on boring click through adverts.

Now Apple has announced that it is going to allow developers to create adverts that are exactly this type in nature. So when you see an advert, you know that you are not just going to click through to a boring brochure based website, but you can look forward to a fully interactive emotional experience.

Apple told the world about apps, even though Windows Mobile users were already using apps. Now Apple is going to tell the world about creating interactive adverts even though it’s nothing new. But they are going to do it on the mobile, so how long is it going to take the rest of the digital media to catch up?

Watch a demo of iAd below courtesy of lightstab :

10 years ago, marketing your website required the use of simply adding a few popular key words. This was great for bringing in traffic but the conversion rates were well off the mark.

As the dot com bubble burst, website owners demanded much more justification for their marketing budgets and this gave rise to the world of SEO. Parallel to this was the rise of Google who provided a platform for SEO(Search Engine Optimisation) to work well, and although PPC(Pay Per Click) works perfectly fine in the short term, SEO provides long term relevant traffic and growth.

But what else can you do to bring in relevant traffic to your site? Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, founders of the Hubspot have written a book called Inbound Marketing which not only covers PPC and SEO, but also explains how the use of Social Media and Blogs is also now just as important. Although not the first book about Inbound Marketing, it presents today’s online marketing strategies in a simple and digestible format, whether you are a techie or not.

If you are serious about marketing on the web, and willing to put the time and effort into utilising some or all of the ideas in this book, then you will begin to see what it takes for websites need to stay on top and continue to bring in relevant traffic.

With nearly 2 billion people across the world surfing the net, now more than ever is the time to start planning where you want your site to be for the next 5-10 years, and Inbound Marketing is what you need to start investigating.

Find out more about the concept of Inbound Marketing on this post on the Hubspot Blog at :

http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/4416/Inbound-Marketing-the-Next-Phase-of-Marketing-on-the-Web.aspx

Get the book on Amazon at :

In the US :

www.inboundmarketingbook.com

In the UK :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Inbound-Marketing-Found-Google-Social/dp/0470499311/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1271112028&sr=8-1

Interested in helping scientists to spot explosions on the Sun and tracking them as they travel towards Earth? Then the Solar Storm Watch could be for you, and in fact anyone can be a solar storm watcher thanks to the Internet.

Brought to you by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, The Science & Technology Facilities Council and Zooniverse, the Solar Storm Watch is using the technique of crowd sourcing to help them in a number of different ways, from data processing to spotting comets.

At the website you can find profiles of the scientists involved, videos about why crowd sourcing is required, a forum to discuss your questions and opinions, teachers resources, the all important mission briefing and more.

Content courtesy of The Solar Storm Watch :

Mission briefing

You don’t have to be a science expert to be a brilliant solar stormwatcher. But if you’d like to know more about what you’re looking at, then explore our beautiful and interactive zoomable diagrams to find out about the Sun and the STEREO spacecraft monitoring it. And check out our scientists’ profiles too.

Find out more about the Solar Storm Watch at :

http://solarstormwatch.com/

Content courtesy of Zooniverse.

The Zooniverse is home to the Internet’s largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects.

With nearly 60million classifications, Zooniverse is giving a prize to the person who discovers the 60th Millionth classification. What are you waiting for?

Find out more about Zooniverse at :

http://zooniverse.org/home


Blur is a game created by Bizarre Creations the people behind the Project Gotham series and Activision the pure play online and console game publisher. Due for release in May later this year, I played a demo version of the game and noticed was a social twist has been placed within the game. Although other games do have a social element, like for example being able to buy and sell cars on Forza, or set up private races in most racing games etc, but Blur is pushing the social angle a little further by allowing gamers to directly Tweet their progress using their Twitter account details.

Adding the element of a four way split screen, this game sounds like hours of fun for you and your friends.

Right now the developers are looking for feedback from gamers who have tried the demo in order to put the finishing touches to the final release.

Check out the trailer below :

Find out more about Blur at :

http://www.blurgame.com/

Find out more about Bizarre Creations at :

http://www.bizarrecreations.com/

Focusing on fashion, consumers will soon be able to fund designers directly through a website called FashionStake in return for credits on clothes. This model offers an alternative to purchasing from retailers and the communication channels of this model allows for the unique opportunity of supporting the creative process.

Not sure if it will have the same effect as the music industry had with peer-to-peer as suggested by Reuters below, but ‘crowd funding’ models are probably here to stay, and will probably sit alongside existing retail channels. If the model exceeds expectations, then there is no reason why high street retailers cannot begin to try similar models.

Nike has been offering personal sports shoes for some time now through Nike ID. So although this may not be as personal as what FashionStake are offering, but by simply giving consumers the chance to contribute is definitely a way forward.

Content Courtesy of Reuters :

NEW YORK, April 1 (Reuters) – An Internet start-up called Fashion Stake launching in coming weeks aims to shake up the fashion industry, just as peer-to-peer file sharing changed the music industry.

Fashion Stake will allow customers to directly fund fashion designers by browsing on-line collections and buying a stake in a collection in return for credits to buy clothes. Patrons can also share ideas with designers and vote on collections.

Read the full article at :

http://smallbusiness.uk.reuters.com/2010/04/06/new-website-brings-crowd-sourcing-to-fashion/

Find out more about FashionStake at :

http://www.fashionstake.com/

With the rise of 3D TV during this year Sony is looking to push forwards on all technological fronts. Recently re-styling their Japanese retail store in line with Apple’s clean cut style, they are also looking to launch an online content service that will no doubt be available across their TV’s, Consoles and the Web.

Sony don’t tend to innovate like they used too, and it looks like Apple have been holding that title for the last decade. But with a vast number of loyal customers, a distinct design style of its own and a brand as big as Coca Cola, Sony will not have to try to hard to win new customers.

Content Courtesy of The New York Times :

Sony is working with Google and Intel on Google TV, a platform for a new generation of televisions and set-top boxes that will make it easier to browse the Web on TV screens. The first devices featuring the technology are expected to be on sale this summer.

Read the full article at :

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/29/technology/29sony.html

See also :

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/18/technology/18webtv.htm

When a new technology arrives it is then integrated across all types of communication channels and changes the services offered by those channels. Recently HD made its way on to our screens, now you can buy phones that allow you to create High Definition video and upload it directly to the web.

With the imminent arrival of 3D TV, we are going to see 3D overlap itself with HCI(Human Computer Interaction). We will see this in projects like Microsoft’s Natal. This is where the power of hand gestures will now allow us to interact with games and other applications.

The power behind some of this fourth coming technology is a company called Canesta, who have spent a lot of time and money to get to where they are. They have developed a chip that allows 3D gestures to be recognised by the computer and small enough to be fitted into everyday consumer devices.

By placing 3D cameras into every conceivable device will now allow us to change the way we interact with onscreen menus, but also the way we see the on screen information.

Minority Report is just round the corner.

Find out more about Canesta at : http://canesta.com/

Read an article about the story at :

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/29/technology/start-ups/29canesta.html?dbk

Sites like http://interneteyes.co.uk do have the grounds for a valid model. If cameras were simply observing just the functional parts of a city, like for example the copper wiring, which serve hundreds of peoples Internet needs then crime could be reduced, or at least the communication of crime may be increased in speed.
And if privacy issues can be addressed then cctv may become the next reality tv show.

Under The Wire.

Posted: March 25, 2010 in Cyber Culture
Tags: ,

With issues of privacy from intensive marketing campaigns, sharing files across the web, governments controlling web access, the Internet will always continue to provide users with new alternate options for by passing government controls.

Haystack provides such a service, providing a proxy like system, that uses encryption to allow communication.

Find out more about Haystack at :

http://www.haystacknetwork.com

If somebody steals your electricity and commits a crime, is it fair to have your electricity supply vastly reduced, and in some cases cut off. The analogy here is broadband and this is an extreme case, but still possible and not fully covered by the new bill.

In addition to digital areas like Domain Names, Definitions of Broadband, Video Games Age Classifications and more. the government are going to introduce some new legislation with regards to all the illegal downloading that’s going on.

Unfortunately this is not going to put a stop to it, and no matter what deterrents are put into place, evolving technology will offer a new route to sharing, and it will no doubt be even harder to track.

A demonstration against the bill not receiving a proper debate being planned. If you would like to make your voice heard then visit :

http://www.38degrees.org.uk/page/speakout/extremeinternetl

Content courtesy of The Daily Telegraph :

More than 10,000 Britons have demanded a parliamentary debate on the Digital Economy Bill, which is currently going through the House of Commons. A protest is also being organised for this Wednesday at Parliament about the Bill which is likely to be rushed through parliament in the so-called “wash-up” period immediately before the election. …Read More.


South Korea has provided this type of service to its citizens for at least a couple of years now, and last year I read about a similar type of clinic near Redmond in America.

Now the UK has its first facility to help those that feel they are suffering from this type of technological  addiction.

Find out more about the hospital providing the service at :

http://www.nightingalehospital.co.uk/services/addictions/technology-addiction/

Related Links :

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100318/tc_afp/britainhealthmindtechnologyinternetchild

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/18/technology/18rehab.html