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Archive for the ‘mobile’ Category

The Changing World of the Web

I’ve been doing some research for the FSB and I thought I’d put down some information I’ve picked up – all of this is bang up to date.

Amazing as it seems, up to a third of the world has Internet access. That might not sound a lot but think of the people who will never have access – those parts of the world for example where they’ve gotten themselves into a situation where they are utterly controlled or they don’t even have electricity. If for the sake of discussion we discount those people – it’s fair to say that the majority of people who are going to get access in the near future, already have it.   Even at home in the UK there are those (primarily age-related) who simply don’t see the point and are not interested.

As for who’s using what.. PC sales seem to have levelled off whereas tablet sales are going through the roof right now – no doubt this Christmas will have an affect on that – apparently 47% of American kids want an iPad (I’d imagine a very small percentage will actually GET one). So the big drivers right now are smartphones and tablets and as we know, iPad and Google Nexus are the two big names here right now.

Right now, more broadband is consumed by mobile devices than fixed devices and the theory is that by 2015 (only a couple of year) that’ll be more like 4:1 in favour of mobile!

There are currently 6 bullion mobile phone users, 1 billion of those being users of smartphones but in current SALES, Smartphones are sailing ahead of the older feature phones which are starting to die off. As you’d imagine the whole thing is definitely age-related with the highest users of Smartphone being by younger people with more cash to spend. But of course once hooked as they get older there will be no way they’re going back… China, incidentally has 25% of smartphone sales and that puts them at around twice the size of the US market.

The Internet used to be full of free content – which made it hard to run a business from it but of course that has all changed – iTunes, Netflix (and similar), buying and selling on Ebay all play a major part today in the massive and every-increasing commercialisation of the Internet. Digital advertising has gone from just about zero in 1995 to around 20 billion pounds today.

For American companies at least – and limiting to those in the media and tech areas, around 40% of their income is now digital – i.e. online. For advertising, TV still keeps the lead (42%) – but online advertising is coming closely behind and advertising in print is starting to go very much downhill (9%). Newspaper advertising in particular has dropped through the floor (I don’t know about you but I haven’t bought a newspaper in years).

On the subject of digital photography, we all know that Kodak are stuffed – who would have thought… but today, phone cameras are now giving traditional cameras a run for their money not because they are as good but because they are far more convenient.

As a life-long amateur photographer, I gave up on film as far back as 1997 and only a couple of years ago I gave up on large bulky cameras as being just too much like hard work for hot holidays… the convenience of the phone camera and the ability to send to Facebook etc. straight from the phone was the main driver. Throughout it all however I’ve sorely missed the quality and control that comes with a DSLR. Then out of the blue the traditional cameras are fighting back – I’ve just bought the new Samsung Android camera – a full-blown Android unit with a decent lense – the first of it’s kind. I predict that a variation on this will become the norm (pending people coming out of their comfort zones) and that non-updatable, proprietary camera interfaces will hopefully soon die out. For now I’m ahead of the pack and enjoying every minute – I just wish someone would invent decent batteries!

One wonders what it would be like to to transport 10 years into the future. The changes are likely to be far more dramatic than the changes we’ve seen in the previous 10 years – but making predictions is probably a fool’s game.

Mobile and Broadband Coverage in Northumberland

A short update (with video) on a couple of items of interest to those in Northumberland -  and in the case of THREE mobile users, those with coverage issues everywhere.

http://scargill.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/the-three-home-signal-box/

Orange Crappy Modems

Despite my own issues with Orange as a phone company, Maureen has her own longstanding account and continues to use them – the reason is simple – as an Orange mobile customer, for a while they were offering home broadband for a fiver, including free calls (VOIP phone) to /orange mobiles.  As our mobile phones don’t work in Wark, it’s handy to be able to call the kids on their Orange mobiles for free.

Before anyone is daft enough to go down this route however, consider this… originally we received an Orange modem with the deal – you have to use theirs, a large, ugly grey thing, otherwise the free calls don’t work (this is deliberate – you CANNOT use another modem and still get the free VOIP calls). It is without a doubt the crappiest modem I’ve ever owned both to look at and to operate, so much so that I realised some time ago, when it continually packed in at random but about once every few days, that the only way to keep it going was to fit a 24-hour timer and reset it every night. That seems to have done the job. Hardly ideal.

Last week we went to the Orange store and asked about an upgrade. Well, apparently when Maureen’s contract is up for renewal, she can also get the latest modem. I thought there might have been a ray of light here as the model on show in the Orange shop is a sleek black Netgear modem…. that is until I looked at the reviews on Amazon – Orange, true to form have done it again.

Take a look at these reviews… not hand picked but straight off the page. Pretty much says it all, really… this is the new modem – not the old!!! I can see a move elsewhere coming on.

Orange modem reviews

The Future’s Bright, the Future’s THREE

As regular readers will know I’ve been struggling with Orange incompetence for years now, if it’s not been poor customer service, it’s been lack of signal (there is no Orange signal in my village, hasn’t been for the last decade and now I understand they have no plans to do anything about this – despite claiming they put applications in on more than one occasion for masts – I just don’t buy this).

Anyway having discovered that someone has already successfully won a legal case to get out of their contract because of lack of signal, I convinced Orange to let me go without a penalty.

Armed with that freedom I headed off to the THREE store. Why THREE? Well, I already use (and recommend) their MIFI units and perhaps contrary to what you might think, they have quite an impressive coverage in the UK, at least everywhere I’ve tried up to now. They are also FAR more realistic with data, offering up to 15GIG a month data on their MIFI units. Better, on their iPhone deals, the offer a flat-rate package at £35 a month that gives “all-you-can-eat” data.

Now, we’ve all heard that from the other operators who until recently claimed “unlimited” broadband then when you read the fine print it’s a con – they have “fair use” policies which means the claim of unlimited is really a downright lie.

So I checked – according to THREE, “all you can eat” means unlimited data with no fair use policy.  Further, unlike Orange who charge an extra TEN POUNDS a month to share phone data with a laptop, sharing with the laptop is INCLUDED in the deal.

For reasons well beyond me the fellow at the THREE store thought this did not include iPads which would not work – but I remember standing outside the store thinking “But if you share over WIFI how on earth would it distinguish an iPad from a laptop?” and sure enough I was right, the iPhone will take in 3G, spit out WIFI and share it with any device that works on WIFI AND yes it will handle VPNs for those who need to log into work.

So, armed with my new phone and new company I headed off from Hexham for a trip to Blackpool, Internet radio (the American BIG CHEESE radio station) running on the phone…  and in a trip taking over 2 hours, I lost no more than a couple of minutes of radio time. Bye Bye BBC!

Jailbreak iPhone 3GS (later model) with IOS 4.3.2

For many years I used Microsoft’s Smartphones and 18 months ago I took the plunge and moved to iPhone, which apart from the odd yearning for Android I’ve never really regretted. The one thing that REALLY gets me annoyed when I think about it is the inability to share my connection from my Orange iPhone – with my laptop – or more importantly, the iPad. With the MS phone it was simply a matter of paying $20 for something called WMWIFIROUTER, a piece of software which shared the connection over WIFI with my laptop.  Turn it on and bingo – the laptop gets a WIFI connection from the phone’s 3G connection. 

I really can’t handle Orange’s restrictive practices on this, helped by Apple who provide the facility to share WIFI then block it so that Orange can charge a staggering EXTRA £10 for the facility to work – and remember I’m paying something like £30 a month to start with for the privilege of limited (something like 3 gig) data on the iPhone.  Come end of contract I’ll be looking to THREE, who offer their MIFI units with “all you can eat” data, WAY more minute and WAY more texts than Orange for only marginally more outlay. Hopefully by the time my contract is out that difference in cost will disappear (the above with THREE is £35 a month – I don’t know if they include tethering).

In the meantime – the iPhone 3GS is now 18 month old, I have a few months left before considering when to upgrade and what to upgrade to.. and so I thought I’d take a look at jailbreaking the phone – which simply means removing Apple’s ultimate control over it.

iPhone with CydiaRedsn0w ( http://blog.iphone-dev.org/ ) will jailbreak all but the iPad2 and so I downloaded the program to my Windows 7 PC after much reading on the subject. Well, of course it didn’t work – turns out you need to use the program in XP SP3 compatible mode – but hey, it’s free – who’s complaining! A simply right-click option on the shortcut did the job.

Minutes later, one jailbroken iPhone – it really is that simple – note the new brown icon in the photo on the right – except – that Cydia, the repository for jailbroken apps – is currently having issues with Amazon who provide their storage…  basically for now it’s bust – Amazon have been unable to provide them with working connectivity for around 3 days now – absolutely amazing.  So I figured I’d have to wait patiently, not something I do well, for them to get their act together so I could go and grab the relevant software to make my phone, once more into a handy source of signal for the iPad and laptop when on the road, however it turns out that you can grab free programs while the service is down – you just can’t get the paid versions.  I’ve grabbed PDANET and within seconds had it sending a password-protected WIFI signal to my iPad. No problem at all. Until the site is up I’m restricted to http: sites and not secure ones but no doubt that’ll be resolved within the next day or so.

Of course, I have a MIFI unit which provides WIFI access – but that’s on THREE – and there are believe it or not times when Orange’s signal is the stronger.. so now I have the best of both worlds. More on this when Cydia is NOT bust.

Orange – who would have them?

Another screw-up for Orange – the broadband we were supposed to have in Bellingham is still not running. I rang them up yesterday merely to ask when it would be connected.. can’t talk to me – data protection…  I pointed out that if I get Maureen to ring – to confirm, then I ring back, I’ll get through to another part of India who won’t know anything about the first call…  no difference, data protection.

If anyone from Orange is looking in – your people are an UTTER WASTE OF SPACE!

The Future’s GRIM – the Future’s Orange

It looks like the morons at Orange are at it again… regular readers will know of the struggles I’ve had with them over the years…

The last time we were in the Orange store, they offered us inexpensive home broadband as we “upgraded” Maureen’s mobile phone. That would be around 3 weeks ago. We duly signed the papers, took the new phone and went about our business.

A couple of days later, I tried the broadband (not REALLY expecting it to work quite so soon but keen to at least get it set up). It immediately struck me that I’d need a username and password for the modem – so I rang up Orange. They confirmed the order but we were not yet on the system so they could not give us the information.

At that point both Maureen and I had to leave the country and head for the USA. We spent 2 weeks over there during which time her sparkly new Android phone from Orange simply would not connect. Orange were useless during this time as they had NO idea why it would not work and could only offer that I swap SIMS with my iPhone, purely to determine if the SIM was at fault.. or the PHONE was at fault. It was the phone.  On the last day in the states, at the airport, her phone started to work all by itself!

Today I rang Orange to get the username and password and ended up talking to some mindless idiot from a call centre in India. “I’m sorry but I can’t be helping you today as you are not the holder of the contract” – he said, despite being reminded that this was on MY mobile phone bill and I signed the contract at the Orange store.  I left it until Maureen returned.

I just had a very upset wife on the phone. Firstly the broadband won’t be on for another 3 weeks because they screwed something up and didn’t bother to get in touch… and another mindless call centre idiot after very long and convoluted conversation, told her that the “phone was not designed for International use”.  I should point out that this is the internationally used HTC Desire on Android, designed somewhere in deepest Asia and sold all over the world.

Bunch of complete idiots. As soon as I find the time to get to the Orange store, one of their employees is going to have a very hard day…

USB Power Supplies

When I got the iPAD a while ago, it came with a VERY impressive USB power supply. Why impressive? well because it was hardly bigger than a normal mains plug yet puts out a wopping 10watts of power while running freezing cold (which means it is HIGHLY efficient). Most USB supplies put out no-where NEAR that.

The iPAD can’t handle the normal supplies or indeed USB outputs from most hubs and laptops because they simply don’t put out enough power, hence the more powerful unit supplied.

I thought little more of that until today, sitting in the window looking out on suburban Chicago and forced to use a dongle for broadband…. or more specifically the SIM from the dongle inserted into a NOKIA phone running Joikuspot to provide WIFI to both of our laptops. After about half an hour the phone died as the WIFI router uses LOTS of power. So I plugged the phone into it’s charger… no joy, as soon as the Joikuspot program came on the PSU was unable to keep up and the phone went dead again.

Then I remembered the iPAD power supply… having a usb-to-Nokia lead I tried that and BINGO – no problem at all – full use AND charge at the same time  – slightly marred when I found out that theiving Vodafone wanted to charge £29 for 50 meg – making a download of iTunes to the laptop cost £60 what a joke – VODAPHONE IF YOU’RE READING THIS YOU’RE A BUNCH OF THIEVES. The charger ran freezing cold which is more than can be said for the phone.

The moral of the tale?  Make sure as far as possible that all your gadgets charge using USB leads and get a couple of decent USB mains chargers (lead plugs into the charger) – forget the cheap Chinese crap and go for something like the Apple iPAD units which CLEARLY are built to a specification, not a price. A tiny additional benefit being that as they are very efficient, their standby current if left plugged in – is almost non-existent.

Regards

Peter Scargill

Digital Economy Act

I’m sorry – you may think – he just did a blog on this  – well, the more I learn about this act, the worse it gets… so please read on. And what’s even worse, most people I talk to have NO idea this new act exists.

The Digital Economy Act, or the “big boys browbeating government into supporting them and to hell with everyone else” act… is a novel piece of new legislation which states that an ISP (or Internet Service Provider) is someone who provides an electronic communication service that is provided to a subscriber and consists entirely or mainly of the provision of access to the internet and includes the allocation of an IP address or addresses to the subscriber to enable that access.

Let me translate that into English for you. The act therefore affects ANYONE offering free or paid WIFI to anyone else.

That includes but is by NO means limited to:

Parents

FON users

SMEs (ie almost ALL businesses statistically)

The above might include your local shopping area, cafe, hotel, B&B, airport, TRAIN you name it. Everything from the private individual upwards who installs a WIFI router for whatever purpose, from keeping the kids happy to providing a service for customers.

The above people with marked exceptions are no more likely to understand what an IP address is, than I could be expected to know how to operate on a brain tumour.

But it gets worse…. said potential criminals are supposed to notify subscribers (like a FON user would know who his “subscribers” are!) of allegations made by copyright owners that their accounts have been used for unlawful file sharing… and must maintain lists… WHOAH just hold on there, lists?? What, of complete strangers?

This misguided piece of legislation appears to have come into place, being signed by a tiny number of MPs while everyone else had other things to worry about (ie elections) and seems to me to have gone something like this. Big business pressures government to secure protection for the music and related industries to try to stop people ripping off their products.

At this point a little history lesson might be in order… In 56 now and back in the dark ages when I was a teenager, we used to go to record shops and buy records.  I can’t remember the date but Philips brought out something called the musicassette or simply cassette player. It became known as the musicassette because they did a competition asking people what this new mini tape player should be called – and people like me filled in the competition. I still remember receiving the first Philips player and a TON of cassettes as a prize. I’ve no idea if I was the only one – probably not. Any way, I digress.

 

One of the first things that was asked was.. what on earth would you use a cassette player for.  The response was – well, you’d want to record your friends and family singing, or maybe record a meeting or something.

Bollocks- there is a reason the 90 minute tape was the most popular, offering 45 minutes per side. It’s because they knew FINE WELL you’d record one album on one side and another album on the other side.  Is it also I wonder a coincidence that DYMO labels just happened to fit 2 on the end sleeve of the cassette cover.

Anyway, we all know the history – every single person I went to school with had one of these and we all copied each other’s albums and put them on tape – so we could listen to them in the car.

So then the music industry brought out the CD… and NERO brought out the burning software so presumably you could record your friends singing.

Then Sony (who produce records I may add) brought out the Walkman. It must have been obvious at the time that this would produce a very simple way for everyone to record from their CDs to their PC and copy the material to the Walkman… indeed not only was it obvious it was BLINDINGLY successful and so before long we had the file sharers on the web making millions of tracks available to share with others and millions of people started downloading music.

So now it seems the record companies and their friends have decided this is not good enough and somehow got together with the government who then passed a law that makes just about everyone a bona-fide criminal.

Let me be clear, I don’t download lots of music, indeed I mainly listen to Internet radio which once mastered means you’d never listen to the BBC again – but my lack of inclination to download is not because it’s against the law, it’s because I’m now dead old at 56 and most, but not all of the material out there sounds like poo to me apart from Alicia Keys who’s wonderful.

Mobile phones that handle WIFI are now coming out in numbers…. the Microsoft Smartphones, the iPhone, Blackberry and others.. and because the mobile operators are lying gits, offering unlimited access but then in the small print changing their minds – and because 3G in many parts of the UK is entirely PANTS, WIFI is UTTERLY important to this new generation of information seekers. We like to get our news in cafes and the pub, we do more and more and more things via the internet – and when tablets take off we’ll be doing that EVEN MORE…

And what do we find, an act that is guaranteed if anyone ever gets around to TELLING THE PEOPLE, to turn folk OFF from offering free or inexpensive WIFI…

It is therefore VITAL that individuals and companies GET OFF THEIR BOTTOMS and COMPLAIN about this bill and get it CHANGED. Write to OFCOM and explain why this is completely unmanageable – why it will DAMAGE our country and RESTRICT access to WIFI for completely the WRONG REASONS.

As if Nick Clegg needed any more bolstering after his world-class battering of the other two leaders on TV, he was recently asked THIS question

 

"Will you reconsider the Digital Economy Bill considering the manner it was pushed through, without proper scrutiny, the lack of MPs in attendance at the Bill’s hearing and also taking into account that some ministers have demonstrated considerable lack of technical knowledge on the consequences of the proposed legislation?"

His answer..

"We did our best to prevent the Digital Economy Bill being rushed through at the last moment. It badly needed more debate and amendment, and we are extremely worried that it will now lead to completely innocent people having their internet connections cut off. It was far too heavily weighted in favour of the big corporations and those who are worried about too much information becoming available. It badly needs to be repealed, and the issues revisited."

Ok, so get onto your liberal candidate and find out what HE OR SHE is doing about this.. in fact, get onto your MP and ask why he or she (as is likely) did not even bother to VOTE on this issue – I’ll save you guessing – they probably didn’t have a CLUE what it was about – but don’t let that stop you asking!

The Lib Dems later apparently qualified the comment saying that they supported most of the bill – so clearly THEY have some friends in big business also.

I don’t know if you’ve thought of this – but regarding the many thousands of people the government now classes as ISPs – part of the deal is that they all LOG what we’re doing. So just as in the McCarthy era or the peak of the CCCP, the government will have succeeded in turning thousands of ordinary people into SPIES – but this time not for the government, but for BIG BUSINESS….. yes, that means that you ISP will know you are READING THIS be it your REAL ISP, your cafe owner, or your friend who’s letting you use their WIFI!

Finally a Decent Media Centre

Amplifier, Sky box and laptop as media centreI’ve been playing around with media centres for years… I’ve always kept my music, pictures and more recently videos on the the computer and was using this for providing music to our parties LONG before the idea hit the general public.

We used to have a TIVO – marvellous device, let you record video onto it then via a Linux network you could offload to your PC – of course the Americans took Tivo to the next level while we went Media Centre showing music selectiondown the crappy SKY route  – which is STILL crappy – despite having a network connector and even USB – none of which have ever been pressed into service because Sky are control freaks, you can’t offload video and you can’t even KEEP videos for more than a few days in the case of some of the premium stuff – and their player – well, compared to the iPlayer there IS no comparison – I’ve always wanted a PC version of TIVO but improved to cover the rest of my media including my music, photos and of COURSE Shoutcast radio… what other radio is there?  Well, as the original Microsoft Media Centre was SO BAD I tried everything going Media Centre playing musicincluding the excellent  I’ve tried all manner of media centres including the excellent MEDIAPORTAL but this weekend I sat down with new hardware and Windows 7, determined to install the latest Mediaportal – and to be honest, they’ve really not moved on at all, I found it bombed out at times and was just not very good..

So I took the plunge, revisited Microsoft’s Media Centre for Windows 7 – and then went looking for plug-ins. I’m pleased to report that it all works a TREAT and given Shoutcast and Weather plug-ins – it’s also MARVELOUS.  Add to that the free TVERSITY Media Centre displaying Shoutcast stationsand AIR VIDEO programs so I can access my media when on the road on the mobile phone… and what I now have is a very nice setup!

If anyone is interesting in the same facilities, drop me a line with any questions. I’ve wasted a lot of time getting here and I’m happy to advise others to save them wasting the same amount of time… if ONLY the MUSIC 2 people hadn’t retracted their iPhone product…