Friday, October 30

Brace Yourself: The Androids are Coming

The Android mobile operating system has been around for only a few years, but is quickly turning into a real powerhouse in the mobile phone market. It was initially developed by Google and later the Open Handset Alliance. Based on open source software, the progression of Android into the tough mobile phone market has been greatly aided by challenging developers to create innovative and exciting Android Applications.

With the Android concept only coming into existence in Nov 2007, the mobile world saw the first ever Android powered mobile phone, the T-mobile G1 (dubbed the 'Google Phone'), at the end of Oct 2008. The G1 was an unprecedented device. Backed by the pedestal that the giant, Google, is and with it all the ensuing rich Google technology it possess, Android was ready to challenge the competitors. Breaking into any market is not easy but plunging into the mobile phone market where other companies have been established for years is no easy task. The G1, however, were primed with everything they could ask for to compete with the likes of Nokia, Sony Ericson and the protagonist: Apple. And that is infact the market the G1 belonged in, the smart phone market (what is a smart phone), and the success of Apple iPhone was it hoped to emulate. Packed with the ability "to you touch, tap, swipe and scroll your way through all the coolest applications" it had a tough task ahead.

The G1 phone perhaps did not live up to the name of the 'iPhone killer'. A big let-down was undoubtedly attributed to there being limited Apps for the G1 compared to Apple's huge Apps store and also it’s synthetic chunky build. The iPhone also outperformed the G1 when it came down to media playback and build quality. A valiant try nonentheless.

Since G1's introduction Apple have released a 3Gs version of the iPhone. Whilst Android has, quite remarkedly, exploded onto the scene, with succesive release since the same milestone. The plethora of Android handsets released in a short time span showed successive improvements. The the open source nature of the OS a big contributing factor to this.

There have been eight Android handsets on the market since the arrival of the technology two years ago. A staggering further 10 handsets have been announced/rumoured for the next quarter. This can only emphasise the intention of Android and the phone manufacturers willing to adopt the technology. It's also a sign of rising popularity and perhaps the prospect of finally producing a mobile handset that will become crowned as the 'iPhone killer'. HTC is at the forefront of Android phones having released the first ever Android device (T-mobile G1) it has continued with successful smart phone devices accumulating in the most recent one: HTC Hero.

HTC Hero

Following it's Europe release in July 2009 the handset has made great in-roads, grabbing the Phone of the Year and the Gadget of the Year acolade at the T3 Gadget Awards. Coming as a surprise to some, the HTC Hero has for a good while been compared to iPhone's repertoire, and whilst for many, would seem to be equal to the iPhone's brilliance others would say that the Hero surpasses the iPhone in every area. The Hero owes it's success to the new Sense technology, which is something that can’t wholly be described in words. It needs to be observed:

Android marches on to stamp it's newly found authority with the highly awaited, and elusive, Motorola Droid phone. Motorola has been responsible for releasing adverts specifically promoting a mobile device that not only is rich in features but also makes up for the iPhone’s shortfalls.

Moto Droid

High-speed Web browsing, voice-activated search, customizable large screen, access to thousands of Android applications and hundreds of widgets are just a small selection of the selling points of the Droid. A sturdy handset and despite it being thin Motorola have managed to fit a QWERTY slide keyboard to accompany the touch keyboard. The Droid makes it the first handset to be preloaded with Android 2.0 technology and delivers a quicker and slicker feel to the OS than previous Android versions. This notable feature is matched by a 5MP camera with dual LED flash; something the iPhone lacks. The signs are clear that this phone was built with the iPhone in mind: to match it and surpass it in every section.

Droid Fact Sheet and Specifications

The ball is now in Apple’s court. If they wish to maintain their dominance in the smart phone industry they will undoubtedly have to produce something that can be said to be an ‘Android killer’; for that appears to be the new benchmark. Apple cannot surely rest on their laurels with their achievements thus far and their vast array of iPhone applications. Android technology is always evolving, it’s open source technology has given it a head-start over Apple’s.

Will iPhone’s longstanding reputation save it or will the exciting offerings of Android technology swoon users over to the new ‘iPhone’? Only time will tell.

Monday, October 19

Royal Mail: Unacceptable, Disgraceful, Shambolic!

Image Source: Stock.XCHNG

These are some of the words that could be said to describe the Royal Mail-Communications Workers Union fiasco. Following weeks upon weeks of delays in mail being delivered the CWU have finally decided to hold two 24-hour strikes, at the detriment to the taxpayer. The dispute over job cuts has escalated to two strikes on the 22nd Oct and 23rd Oct.

The reality of the situation is that both sides, Royal Mail and the CWU, have agreed that cuts are needed to compensate for falling revenue. Royal Mail has seen losses of 170m per annum from it's letters and packages business. It is thought that the jobs of approximately 170,000 workers in mail centres and delivery offices will be lost first.

The 'reasoning' behind the ballots is that Royal Mail managers have so far been refusing to specify the extent to which the cuts will affect the workers. On the one hand it could be argued that the CWU are taking disproportionate action against something that in essence has already been decided, but, on the other hand you have Royal Mail not taking their employees seriously enough.

Despite Royal Mail having a backlog of mail and parcels as long as the Thames these strikes will hit postal services even harder, crippling not only business that rely on the Royal Mail but also its reputation. Having suffered a similar fate in the wildcate walk-out two years ago Royal Mail haven't seemed to have learned their costly lesson. Having cost the capital's economy £300m alone last time, it would seem reasonable to expect to avoid another similar scenario.

Someone needs to tell them to grow up and rid them of their selfish ways; the economy is already bad enough as it is. Action by the CWU is perhaps callous and abusing their rights as a union to strike. Royal Mail undoubtedly have to be careful if it wishes to maintian it's stranglehold on the postal services market; if it can't provide an efficient public sector service it should expect more competition from other companies awaiting in it's shadows to jump in it's shoes. The problem essentially stems from the CWU, but the CWU is the Royal Mail's problem to sort out, not ours.


Sunday, October 18

Diwali Lamps

Diwali LampDiwali LampDiwali LampDiwali LampDiwali LampDiwali LampDiwali LampDiwali Lamp - Two Lamps One FlameDiwali Lamp
~The brightness and warmth emanating from the darkness~

Saturday, October 17

Tuesday, October 13

Are You an Addict?

Do you depend on it? Would you feel lost without it? Have you become anxious without it? You would be wrong to think that i'm talking about drugs, cigarettes or alcohol. In fact, what I am rambling on about is Facebook and other social networking sites.

Gone are the days where you would write a letter, pop it in an envelope and post it. Today, Facebook, Myspace and similar social networking sites have replaced traditional communication methods and play an integral part in the keeping in touch with friends, family and co-workers. Facebook has risen immensely in popularity over recent years and with it's growing functionality and features so has the number of users. browsing for longer than they intended.
the average user has 130 friends
Facebook is amazing; you can message friends, write on their walls, upload pictures and even 'poke' them. It is, however, quite addictive. You can easily lose track of time browsing on the your friend’s pages. For some, Facebook is simply a useful tool for keeping in touch with friends, whilst for others it is the way to interact with friends. At the very extreme there are users who assimilate friends like some kind of human stamp collection, spam friend's walls with fashionable garbage or inform the whole world on every single thing they are doing via updates. The question is: does anyone really care? Am I bothered whether you ‘just got on the bus’? Do I need to know your favourite cereal? Studies have shown that the average individual will have between 5 and 10 close friends. How users of Facebook can amass hundreds of 'friends' is an intriguing question. We all want to be loved, wanted or appreciated; It is what makes us human. But the fact that the average user has 130 friends shows that Facebook allows us to create a virtual community that is, as name says, virtual. It emphasises a friendship gluttony/obsession; a staggering 6,000,000,000 minutes are spent on Facebook by around 150 million users daily. This works out to be 40 minutes per person, per day. This figure may not actually appear to be a lot. But when it is considered with the fact that an individual will only have between 5 and 10 close friends at any one time and that a message may take no more than 3 minutes to type and pictures are loaded in seconds there is a lot of time spent not actually interacting with your real friends. This is the 'Facebook addiction'.
a staggering 6,000,000,000 minutes are spent on Facebook by around 150 million
users daily
The danger of turning something that was intended to be helpful and beneficial into something menacing is ever so real with Facebook.

Caroline Hocking, once said that when she de-activated her account after realizing she had become hooked on the website that her 'virtual' life was over'. Having amassed 350 friends and uploaded over 30 photo albums she ended her 2 year Facebook-life and went cold turkey. This only lasted 10 days later; a sign of the grasp Facebook has on its users. Do we really rely on Facebook that much? Is it an ecstasy that feeds our social urges? Many people manage to use Facebook without becoming overly dependent on it, but there is a growing concern that the Facebook obsession will lead to more bad than good. People have been arrested because of it, studies have been made on their effect on impressionable children, jobs have been lost because of employees overeagerness to Facebook whilst at work and even led to divorce.

The question to the reader is, could you live without Facebook or any other social websites; are you an addict? Do people choose to be 'Facebook-whores' or are they just consumed blindly by the sheer power of Facebook.

Thursday, October 8

The End of TV?

It could be the end of TV as we know it. This Saturday sees the first ever competitive England international game to be available online exclusively. Viewers will be able to watch the group qualifier via a live stream for a fee of £9.99 from Thursday, going up to £11.99 on Saturday. This has caused much anger amongst supporters as it means that the traditional pint will be of different sorts as pubs will not be able to show the game. It is however, being shown at some Odeon Cinemas around the country.

This situation arose from the collapse of Setanta, who had the rights to show all of England's group games, and also the lack of sufficient bids for the rights from other TV networks resulting in the game not being televised. The Kentaro Group now have the rights to show the game, and have chosen the web as platform to broadcast it.

Coverage starts from 4.45pm on Saturday, and with the company claiming that streamed games are the way forward in the digital revolution. The modern technology available means that internet users wanting to be in more control of what, where and when they watch their favourite programs. But, there are certain things with tradition, where decades of gathering round the TV to watch epic football matches has become the norm. If streamed matches catches on despite it's obvious disadvantages it could mean the end of this traditon, the end of viewing sports on TV!

Thankfully the game has no significance for England as their qualification from the group is already secured. It will be somewhat bizzare in the future to invite the guys round to watch the game on...err the 19" screen with 2.1 stereo sound..maybe we can take turns to watch!

Monday, October 5

Tuesday's Dreariness

I relunctanctly lifted myself out of bed this morning to be greeted by the sound of rain peltering against my window like a savage beast trying to get in. That had become foreign to me; the sombreness a sign of changing times. By this i mean, of course, that summer was over and autumn was pouring against my window.

Whilst this doom and gloom will not be welcomed by many for some it is a chance to wrap up warm and embrace what autumn bears. London has many a things to offer; for example for the those with musical taste i recommend going to see the Spaghetti Western Ochestra, playing in London and Brighton over the next four days. Their unique style is a meshwork of everyday sounds brought intricately together to form a Western masterpiece. An ochestra with a difference this will not disappoint!

Perhaps ochestras aren't your cup of tea and you're a more of an outdoorsy-type person. If that's the case; The London Mayor's Show is taking place on the 14th of Nov with a magnificent parade and fireworks display. With 6000 people, 1550 servicemen, 202 horses, 24 marching bands and 71 floats there's something for everyone!

For many Hindus, Sikhs and Jains October is very special month for it marks the Festival of Light, Diwali. There are many events across London illuminating the festivities including Diwali at Barnham Park on the 10th of Oct, Naesden Temple Diwali & New Year celebrations on the 17th and 18th of Oct and don't forget to check out what's happening in the borough of Brent over Diwali.

The festival fun..fest doesn't quite stop there! How about exploring how Black History Month is being celebrated in the capital or maybe the BIGfest music and arts festival. Or perhaps looking for something different such as a celebration of apples or even conkers (at Conkerfest09) and go on, fulfill that nutty inner child in you!

This is only a small selection of what London has to offer, there are a few links at the bottom that has endless things to do, see and experience.

Well, look at that, it's stopped raining now! If London was a mathematical equation, it's weather would, unfortunately, be an overcast variable but it's vibrancy, diversity, art and culture offerings would be rays of constants, irrespective of time of year or weather!

By the way, i almost forgot "remember remember the 5th of November!"

Saturday, October 3

It's been a long month

A month has passed since i've blogged anything. A busy September and a touch of laziness on my part is the reason for this. It's been a strange month, at times i've been so busy that i've had to familiarise myself with the concept of multitasking and on some occassions i've become so bored that i've invented new ways to procrastinate!
Here's a few of the (small) feats i've accomplished over the last 30 days:
  1. Become addicted to cottage cheese. It has a taste that no other food will possess and it's filled with protein. It's all good.
  2. Sat an 8 hour exam
  3. Fasted (see 4)
  4. Celebrated the Hindu festival of Navratri
  5. Prayed a lot (see 4 again)
  6. Annoyed with the recession and will have to find sustainable ways to live if un-employment continues.
  7. Accidentally formated one of my hard drives which had around 150gb of data (not quite sure what was saved on it!) Doh!
  8. Had my hotmail, paypal, amazon and ebay account hacked. The fact that over the space of 2 days they managed to buy around $1500 worth of stuff didn't bother might come across as a bit strange, but i was aware of the strong likelihood that i would get my money back as it was an obvious case of fraud and not a shopping spree of sorts that included a pink Sony Vaio (if you're going to steal my money please have some decent taste!). But, i was really annoyed with the laborious and painstaking process of contacting all the companies concerned and letting them know that i had been a victim of online fraud. I did, however, get a laugh out of the supposed 'hacker' and his amateur operation after i realised that the things he bought off Amazon he had sent to my home address. Having actually received those items I believe the phrase 'WTF' is appropriate here!
  9. September saw the merger of Orange and T-mobile to create the UK's largest phone company with a 37% share in the market. Also, Orange signing a deal with Apple over the iPhone and subsequently Vodafone doing the same a day later is a good sign for avid iPhone fans like myself. It's been widely talked about that this will spark a price war over the iPhone, which all in all is a win-win situation for us consumers. Let's hope that i can get my hands on an economically viable iPhone plan soon!
  10. I've learnt that kids can really say the funniest things. Me: Have you not heard of Casper(as in the ghost)? kid: [stares blankly at me] ....Casper the wasteman? (I think only those living in the UK will understand that)
  11. Banned myself from watching repeats on TV
  12. Begun started reading the mammoth Bagavad Gita. I'm not sure where this will lead, whether i'll enjoy it or not, i will find out in 900 pages time.
  13. Decided that in this given climate i may need to consider a career change

October is here now, and with a change in the wind, announcing the end of any lingering summer weather and the start of autumn. I wonder what i'll get up to this month. Only time will tell!