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September, 2008

Home computing in the office

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Last night I attended a round table discussion with Enrique Salem, COO of Symantec. The theme was the encroachment of consumer technologies into business environments.

Of course, that’s a huge topic. “Consumer technologies” covers everything from Facebook to the iPhone, and different types of business are affected in very different ways. Unsurprisingly, the discussion started out uncertain and unfocused, and I admit at first I found myself wondering it was supposed to achieve.

But as the evening went on it dawned on me that these difficulties were precisely what had drawn Mr Salem towards the topic. It’s a fascinating challenge to try to devise even broad principles for accepting new technology into a business without simultaneously opening up untold risks and challenges. Our ultimate inability to make a useful dent in the problem was in a way an eloquent conclusion. (more…)

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Do tech journalists have any friends?

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

We got talking in the office yesterday about Facebook, and social networking in general, about how the younger generation has a different set of standards on privacy. The youth of today…

We all have different ways of handling our profile pages; I won’t upload embarrassing pictures or let people swear on my Wall, while some others here (Bayon) are happy to talk in ways that would make a sailor blush, for all to see. (more…)

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Google Finance: the perfect view of the credit crunch

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Pound symbolWe’re all keeping a close eye on the financial markets at the moment – not least to check whether our mortgage company has just moved into Number 10.

My first port of call for financial news has traditionally been The Financial Times, but the online pink pages have recently been usurped by Google’s quite exceptional Finance site. (There’s a UK version of the site, too.)

Not only does this collate all the latest business news (including the FT’s) into one digestable lump, but it presents the latest market data in such an effortlessly customisable fashion that it should be awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics. 

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Flip brings Mino, disappointment to the UK

Monday, September 29th, 2008

As far as camcorders go, the YouTube generation is less worried about image quality, manual features and editing tools than the average person. They’re far too preoccupied with over-sharing personal issues with hundreds of thousands of strangers online. That’s precisely why the Flip range of cameras has taken off so impressively quickly. (more…)

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Posted in: Hardware, Just in

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James Bond’s Facebook profile

Monday, September 29th, 2008

MI6 is hiring through Facebook. That strikes me as odd. If I was hiring somebody to work in an animal testing lab, I wouldn’t pop down to the gates on my break and grab the first Johnny with a plackard and bucket of red paint I could find, and yet MI6 seems to have done just this.

 Basic requirements of a spy? Well, I’ve never infilitrated a secret lair that’s been fiendishly built beneath an active volcano, but presumably, discretion is one. And discretion is not something typically ascribed to Facebook users. I can see it now “James Bond is crouched on the thirtieth floor of a burnt out apartment block waiting to assasinate the President of Paraguay”

2 mins pass.

“James Bond has just assasinated the President of Paraguay.”

2 mins pass.

“James Bond has just uploaded a new album.” 

(more…)

Nvidia keeps failing the name game

Friday, September 26th, 2008

At present it’s nothing more than an industry rumour, but it’s one that can’t come true soon enough. Nvidia is reportedly about to rebrand its graphics cards in a quest for much-needed simplicity.

Gone will be the 8000 and 9000 number schemes, with things going back to (kind of) the beginning. So we’ll see 100s and 200s, and all the divisions of ten in between; while the suffix letters will find their way to the beginning of the names, a la G100 and GT140.

Because that’s simple.

Perhaps I’m just being picky on a Friday afternoon, but surely I’m not alone in thinking simple would have been to do away with the ghastly prefix/suffix convention altogether, in an entirely fresh start. Can anyone even remember why a GT was decided to be faster than a GS, which in turn is faster than a G, in the first place? (more…)

The phone data that’s a nightmare to delete

Friday, September 26th, 2008

Nokia E71Roughly a quarter of all phones are discarded with enough personal data left in them to identify their owner, according to a new study. Given my recent experience, I’m surprised that figure isn’t somehere in the high nineties, because deleting data from a modern phone is like trying to clear sand off a beach with a pair of tweezers. 

My esteemed editor recently handed me the Nokia E71 he’d been testing. Because he’s a stickler for reviewing kit properly, it was stuffed full of his personal data, including his Exchange email, text messages and contacts.

Once I’d sent an email to our publisher with Tim’s recommendation of a huge pay rise for the hard-working, irreplaceable, online editor, I set about trying to wipe the data.  First, I formatted the memory card, but it seems all Tim’s personal files were stored on the phone’s internal memory and, oddly, there was no obvious way to format that.

 

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The NeverEnding Beta (Google, 2004)

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

Remember when Gmail first arrived? Unless you’re unlucky enough to be called John Smith you probably got the username you wanted first time, and without having to add six digits on to the end. Then you experienced the fun of sending invites to your mates so they could join you in your exclusive little club – after all, Gmail was still in beta, they couldn’t have every Tom, Dick and Harry overwhelming it before it hit its stride.

GmailFast-forward four and half years and guess what? Google Mail, as it’s now known, still has that little BETA label under it, and it shows no sign of buggering off.

Over at the Royal Pingdom they’ve gone through the whole Google catalog and counted the applications that are in beta today. While 22 out of 49 may sound reasonable – Google is always coming up with innovations, after all – when you realise that these include Google Mail, Docs, and Product Search, you have to wonder if Google interprets the word beta in the same way as the rest of us.

(more…)

Email etiquette – rules 1 & 2

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

I’m optimistically titling this post “Email etiquette – rules 1 & 2″ in the hope that I’ll go on to work out the remaining xx over the next few days/months/years, because if there’s one thing I know it’s that the world isn’t very good at them.

Now there are already some sites that cover email etiquette, but as their advice tends to be along the lines of “DO NOT WRITE IN CAPITALS” I think it’s safe to say they’re not targeting the more experienced of users.

I’m starting off with a more complicated one: when you send someone an email, and they send you one back with the answer, do you reply to thank them? It’s a tricky one. Risk appearing rude and ungrateful, or adding to people’s considerable email burden.

My conclusion: reply, but be brief and don’t give them any reason to send you a reply back.

Number two is related: if someone sends you an email, but you know it’s going to take you a day to reply, do you ignore it until you can send a meaningful reply or send an immediate acknowledgement?

Again, I go for brief acknowledgement, but I know others disagree.

So what do you think? Am I alone in even pondering these things? Should I, just maybe, get a life? Feel free to send in your own email etiquette suggestions… and indeed various forms of verbal abuse.

The Luddites were right

Thursday, September 25th, 2008

My recent rant about mobile phones and privacy got me thinking about all the technology that infests our lives and how much of it is actually useful. Case in point, the electronic key fob that lets me into my house. These days, instead of inserting a key, which has been a perfectly acceptable method of entering buildings for… oooh… 4,000 years or so, I now have to stroke my front door with a peice of plastic to get in.

 Two points. Number one: every man gets lonely but I don’t like my front door that much. Number two: it doesn’t bloody work. Most nights I stumble home from the pub only to stand before my house waving my hands like an orchestra conductor and weeping with vexation because the damn thing refuses to open. Even if it did work, it has no advantages over a key. It’s no smaller, no faster, and it’s not like keys have ever being particularly difficult to use. Except for Bayon, of course, for whom a key is like carrying around a surfboard.

But, here’s the worry. Once you start doubting the technology in your life, it becomes very difficult to stop.

(more…)

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