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Wired UK – take two…

Wired UK – take two…

A sample issue of Wired UK

Wired UK magazine

Originally uploaded by jovike

Back in 1994, Wired magazine tried to launch a UK version, working closely with the Guardian. Since I was barely in university, I couldn’t afford to waste precious money on such a future-looking magazine, so it came and went from my local newsagent but Jem Stone has kindly linked me to a fantastically grimly hilarious email about the trials and tribulations of Wired UK take 1.

Skip to today, and Conde Nast (the current publishers of Wired) have also announced plans to take Wired to the UK – to be edited by the Jewish Chronicle’s editor, David Rowan.

Not being part of the A-list (or even C-list) crowd of tech journalists, I can’t help but to wonder if it’s going to work second time around, just when the credit crunch is slowly being felt and the second dotcom boom is beginning to fade as a consequence. Besides which, I can only think of a couple of Brit-based tech journalists off the top of my head. And one of them only because she has a fantastically unique name.

There is a rising appetite for gadget magazines in the UK, already well served by the likes of Stuff and T3, but merging that with the internet era on a dead tree format? I’m assuming that TechCrunch UK and sites like it aren’t exactly burning up page impressions – and that’s on a free website.

But of course this gets back to my personal flaw in offering problems and reasons not to do something – but never to point out a solution.

Why, Vista, why?

Why, Vista, why?

Appropos of nothing, I ended up upgrading to Windows Vista last night. (well, rather, my new swanky laptop which I got for a ridiculously cheap price arrived).

Straight away ran into a few problems. All the fancy graphics are nice, but don’t actually amount to even a ramp of beans, let alone a hill. The much-vaunted security issues seem positively annoying when you’re trying to set up a new laptop.

The worst issue is that my favourite game in the whole wide world, Civilisation 4, refuses to run on Vista. I’ve tried running patches, installing DirectX, uninstalling and reinstalling and each time various little bugs come up. including that it can’t find the DVD – even though I ran it from the DVD in the first place.

Which wouldn’t be so bad if … half the reason I upgraded was so that Civilisation 4 could run comparatively smoothly on it instead of crashing when my old laptop would overheat.

Have you used/tried Vista in earnest and anger? Would I really be sad if I resorted to trying to dual-boot it just so I could run a game?

Why I'm not getting an iPhone

Why I'm not getting an iPhone

Given my recent experiences with new phones and getting rather frustrated by their interfaces, I should be salivating over the forthcoming 3G iPhone. But I won’t be getting one.

Simply because as fancy as all these new touchscreen devices may be, with their huge screens and innovative ways of exploring and clicking, they fail on one very simple thing – you can’t text while you’re on the move. With a phone that has a traditional keypad, it is possible to dial numbers and text people while you’re walking from place to place (or driving!) without having to look at the screen. The trouble with touchscreen phones is that you always have to look at the screen when you’re doing anything – and if you’re walking from place to place (as you do in ol’ London town), that means stopping to look at the screen. And woe betide anyone who stands still on a London pavement – you’ll either get shoved aside, or charity muggers will come up to you.

Shame really – because otherwise it’d look fantastic. But just for the touchscreen factor, I’m selling my HTC TyTN II, and wondering if anyone can sell me a Nokia N95

BT's ineptitude (part 257)

BT's ineptitude (part 257)

Of course, everyone *expects* British Telecom to be slightly inept – it’s the very definition of a UK broadband provider – but to be fair, I’ve had reasonable service from them. Even now, my paid-for net access doesn’t seem to work – yet I can access the Internet through the BT/Fon Wi-Fi community I set up, using my .. erm… paid-for Internet access. Strange…

But that’s not the inept part. When accessing BT’s broadband help service, you’re advised to:

check the broadband service status line on Freephone 0800 169 0199 to see if your area is listed as having a problem.

Call that number – and it gives you the last update for … November 2007. Not exactly up to date!

However, because I can still use the Net via the BT Fon Wi-Fi link, BT do not make THE LIST. I’m sure they’re gutted.

Can computers create?

Can computers create?

Not just yet, but they may be slowly getting there, if the latest spam comment is to be believed — assuming of course, that it was generated by computer, and not a frustrated lurid wannabe-writer. It reads:

“Only a cousin, but he was sobbingly dutiful as she drank his conservative white saga in obnoxious gulps, embedding the bitter, rationalized buff as she swallowed”

I’m sure there’s a short story in there somewhere. Probably set in a dark alley in Amsterdam or something, mind.

Of course, it’d probably help from a spammers point of view if the spam comment actually connected to a website, or a telephone number, or *something*. Instead of a nonsensical web address…

Apple make something useful ?!

Apple make something useful ?!

Let’s face it, while most of Apple’s products have been somewhat cool and nifty, they’ve never actually been particularly useful. Or innovative in terms of functionality, for that matter. MP3 players were around before the iPod came out. Mobile phones were around before the iPhone came out.

But now, Apple have brought out something that – to my mind – no-one else has done yet, and is genuinely useful.

The Apple Time Capsule is a router with a built-in hard drive. Simple as that. Apple sell it as a way of doing automatic backups – but think about it. A router with a built-in hard-drive. In one fell swoop you remove the need for a modem, a router and a network hard drive in one go. I really really want one.

Shame it probably won’t work with PCs.

Oh, and don’t get me started on the Apple Macbook Air. In a world where we’re trying to make things last longer, Apple bring out a product that becomes landfill trash after three years. It’s almost as if Apple is sticking its tongue out at Greenpeace

Analogue 1, Digital 0

Analogue 1, Digital 0

A long time ago, thanks to my ex-workchums at BBC Wales (thanks guys!), I bought myself a Freecom Network Mediaplayer – basically a hard drive which you can connect to your TV. I gleefully set about downloading about 350 Gigabytes of ancient TV programmes from your local friendly non-official sources, looked forward to my digitally converged future, and pretty much left it sat underneath my TV set while I watched endless repeats of Top Gear instead.

Then last night, I rashly invited my neighbours to come and watch the recent Doctor Who 2007 Christmas special (the one with the Titanic) with me.

First problem – my Sky Plus had inconveniently forgotten to record any of the Christmas programmes I’d set it to record. So instead, I set about downloading it off the Internet, transferring it over to my Mediaplayer, and we could all watch it from there. After 20 minutes of frantically trying to get the laptop to see the hard drive (by mostly rebooting endlessly, and sticking the USB cable in and out), the file transferred over and I thought all was fine and dandy for the big show.

So the doorbell was rung, dinner was ready, wine was poured, and we all sat down to re-watch Doctor Who. Except about half an hour in, the hard drive started spluttering and freezing. Despite numerous reboots, the device refused to work, although the file itself was fine. Bah.

Thus it was that after a suitable soujourn into town for drinks, we all stumbled back into another neighbour’s house at 1am, to finish off watching Doctor Who. On her trusty ol’ VHS tape. Analogue 1, Digital 0.

Can you recommend any handy devices that’ll let me watch downloaded videos on my TV? Preferably ones that come with a DVD player that’ll upscale via HDMI, and ones that’ll also record off a digital TV signal on demand. Oh, and if it can connect directly to my sound system, that’d be great too.

Evil thoughts…

Evil thoughts…

A friend of mine has just bought (and named) a Nabaztag, a wireless Internet monitor that comes in the shape of an undeniably cute rabbit. One of the key features of it is that it’ll read out the subject line of any email you send to a designated email address.

Wouldn’t it be a tad spooky if your cute Nabaztag rabbit suddenly started quoting lines from Donnie Darko? 😉

(If I was going to get one, I’d call it Harvey…)

iPod vs laptop vs PSP vs …

iPod vs laptop vs PSP vs …

A friend of mine is flying over from the United States at the end of the month, and has kindly (or rather foolishly) agreed to bring some goodies for me, if I buy them in advance. So I’m left with wrestling over what to get myself and benefit from the ridiculous US/UK exchange rate – even though I can’t necessarily afford it at the moment. So should I get:

  • a new slightly bigger laptop, even though I’ve already got a Core Duo laptop with 1GB RAM and a reasonably good graphics card, which I got 18 months ago for about $2000?
  • Perhaps the new-fangled iPod Touch? The trouble is, I already have an ancient black-and-white old iPod from a bygone era (which I literally sweated over when I bought it 3 years ago), and I don’t use it that much except when I’m driving in the wilds of Wales where I can’t get hold of any radio stations. However, it does look dead flash and swish.
  • Perhaps a Sony Playstation Portable? With the slight flaw that I don’t spend that much time travelling on trains any more, so chances to use it would be quite limited. And besides, I have my existing (or a new!) laptop if I wanted to play games.
  • Maybe I could get a new swisher smart mobile phone, but there’s no guarantee they’d even work over here!

Of course, the sensible option would be to save some money instead, especially as there’s no desperate need for a new gadget. And since I already have an LCD TV, a Playstation 3 and a Nintendo Wii, I already look like the cliched bachelor with far too much money and not enough people on his hands.

But then again, how often can you almost get a laptop for half-price, and get US$2.1 for a mere English pound? It’s a bargain, I tell ya – a bargain!

What do you think?

Dating 2.0

Dating 2.0

dating 2.0 style

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