Surprise purchase of the week

Posted by Chris Green on Tuesday December 18 @ 10:57 pm

OK, I know I said the next post on this blog was going to be my Skypephone opus, and that is coming next, but I just wanted to slip in a quick post about my latest purchase and how much fun I am having with it.

On Monday, in-between having a puncture fixed on the car and trying to install Leopard on the MacBook, I did a load of Christmas shopping, and treated myself to a little gift.

Having recently received a iPod Nano as a gift, I’m using it a hell of a lot (it is a lot lighter than my 60GB iPod Video, which I still think is great, but the Video Nano is nice for taking to work and on short trips where I don’t want a brick in my pocket). The trouble is that the video output cable for my 60GB iPod Video doesn’t work on either the Video Nano or the new iPod Classic. Apple has removed the video out from the headphone jack on the new models and instead only offers video output from the dock connector (and they’ve changed the pin outs so that older dock connector video connectors etc won’t work).

Anyway, I decided to cash in my Nectar points, and in Argos I picked up the new and improved composite video cable with dock connector. It wasn’t cheap – £35 before Nectar discount – but you get a fair amount for your money. It is a well made cable, with a dock connector at one end (push-pull type rather than with locking clips), and three metal phono connectors at the other. There is also a USB connector, allowing you to charge your iPod while playing through the cable, or even sync it. Also included in the box is the new-style USB power supply. Its the same one bundled with the iPhone, so it is half the size of the original USB Apple power supply. US buyers get just the US 2-pin head attachment, us Brits get both the UK plug attachment and the 2-pin European attachment.

As a result of buying the cable (which works with the Video iPod as well as with the new models) I’ve been watching a huge number of video podcasts on my big TV in the study, as well as watching a roaring fire, courtesy of Cali Lewis and iYule.tv.  Even though I was only playing th iPod Nano version of the iYule video rather than the high-res one, it still looks and sounds great.

Things that mean you can’t sleep……

Posted by Chris Green on Friday December 14 @ 3:21 am

Sleep

Nothing sinister, just having one of those weeks where I am very unsettled.

Part of it is to do with last weekend’s office move. I’m in new surroundings – OK, it’s just another two floors up in the same office building I’ve been in since I joined Dennis, but it is still a bit weird (since I’ve been there we’ve steadily worked our way up above sea level – we started on the ground, then the third, we are now on the fifth. Next move will probably be to the water tower on the roof :)

Ultimately its a good thing that we’ve moved – it will be better for productivity, we have more space, we are now working in the same space as our colleagues on the other Dennis technology magazines (a really good thing), and its about a thousand times quieter and a more professional working environment for my team.

There’s also a lot going on within the team itself – lots of change (for the better), new faces, new job roles and new ideas for the coming year. All really positive things, all things I’ve wanted to happen, but as you might expect these are things that introduce an element of uncertainty and thus anguish into the mix.

And that’s why, for the fourth night in a row, its past 2am and I’m wide awake, buzzing with energy and ideas, with no sign of being able to sleep. Even my trusty Melatonin isn’t able to knock me out (and I’ve smuggled enough of it back from the US to open my own branch of GNC).

As I write this, I’m re-watching the Top Gear Polar Special as there’s nothing else on. Yes, over 300 channels and there is nothing worthy of watching.

My next blog post here is going to be about the 3 Skypephone. I’ve been playing with one of these for the last couple of weeks, and now feel ready to convey my thoughts and pass judgement on it. Basically it’s brilliant, and is without doubt the unexpected gadget hit of this Christmas. While I love my iPhone, if you can’t justify £270 for the handset and £35-£55 a month to the bandits at O2 for something loosely resembling service, then £49 and a minimum of a tenner a month in top-up gets you one of the nicest phones I have used since I got my beloved RAZR V3. If you get it on a contract, ANY contract with 3, then the handset is free (contracts start at £12 a month). The Skype deal is simple. Whether you are a pay-as-you-pimp or contract user, you get effectively unmetered Skype-to-Skype voice calling and IM messaging (it’s 4,000 minutes and 10,000 IM messages a month, which even I would struggle to max-out in a month and still hold down a job).

The coverage area and quality of 3’s service has improved a lot since I last went near them (just under a year after launch, when I bought a phone and then sent it back as I was so dismayed by the quality of the phone service and the customer service). Sadly, 3’s front line telephone customer service is still very poor (though I’ve experienced worse – it’s called T-Mobile), but the actual mobile service has definitely moved up a notch. So much so I bought (note, bought with my own money, not blagged) a USB 3G modem and service contract from 3, and I can’t speak highly enough of it – I even get a HSDPA connection for the entire overground part of my tube journey to and from work. The same quality of signal and calling service applies to the Skypephone. I’ve had only two brief instances when it couldn’t get a 3G signal, and had to step down to a 2G roaming signal. The rest of the time – fast, reliable, all-you-can-eat Skype goodness.

I’ll post pictures and something similar to a balanced review in my next posting, but for now, keep £49 on standby, or if you go to Carphone Shed, you can buy two for £85 – a bargain!

Phones are a bit of a thing for me at the moment. I’ve been doing a fair amount of radio and TV talking about emerging technologies for 2008 and Christmas gadget gift advice, and all of it has been dominated by talk of phones. I’m in desperate need of a new phone as I do need to carry two phones (one being the mobile number that’s on my business cards, the other being the number that only family and a few close friends have – thus ensuring they can always get hold of me even when I don’t want to be disturbed by calls on the work mobile). I currently have the iPhone, I adore the iPhone and I’m not entirely sure what’s going to happen if and when the time comes that Apple asks for it back (the phrase “from my cold dead hands” has been banded around a few times of late).

So either way, one phone is going to have to be an iPhone, or maybe Le iPhone. The iPhone is a must, having integrated into my everyday life more quickly than even my first BlackBerry. The other phone is still in play. I did have a Motorola Q9H for a while, which was a great bit of kit, but it broke (it was a pre-release sample to be fair). Trying to buy a replacement is not easy, hardly anyone sells it and those that do want the national debt of Zimbabwe for one.

I am also very drawn to the Samsung SGH-i320. It’s not a new phone, but it is cheap, and has a surprisingly nice QWERTY keypad. It’s Windows Mobile-based, which is not good, but Motorola managed to build a Windows Mobile phone that isn’t shit, so hopefully Samsung has managed to do the same. The Skypephone is definitely being bought no matter what, just cos its soooo cool and nice to use.

I’ve also added a new plug-in to this blog. I’ve enabled the Twit This plug-in, to make it easier for other Twitter users and me to tweet about posts on this blog.

Also, I’m finally beginning to warm to Windows Vista, it’s only taken a year! I have one live machine at home running Vista (the rest of our Windows machines are running XP and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future), a laptop from a well-known games console-making electronics giant that was allegedly built for Vista and shipped with it pre installed. Unfortunately it took a ridiculous amount of work and time to actually get it to work reliably and to interact properly with all the built-in hardware in the laptop. Most end users would have smashed it to pieces in frustration months ago. Hopefully the release shortly of Service Pack 1 will address many of the well-documented shortcomings of this OS.

Better still, buy a Mac, along with a copy of Leopard and save yourself nine months of pain.

I’m playing a lot with video, with a view to turning my hand from audio podcasting to video podcast production. It is a lot of fun, and I’ve found a good use for my otherwise obsolete but excellent quality Samsung/Medion Hi-8 camcorder, adding nothing more than a £6 USB video capture dongle I bought on eBay. I’m particularly taken by Ustream.tv and Seesmic.

Finally, I’m watching a lot of video podcasts, thanks to the recent gift of a 8GB iPod Nano (which is a lot smaller and lighter to carry than my 60GB video iPod). Chris Green hereby gives the seal of approval to the following video podcasts:

Ultimately – I need a rest – a proper rest – and maybe a few good bottles of wine, some good home cooking, a working Macbook again and some quality time with my friends and my DVD collection.

Oh, and a trip to Vegas would also go down well – need to sort something out there, I’m missing Vegas almost as much as I miss San Francisco.

TPN Rock Takeover

Posted by Chris Green on Tuesday March 20 @ 12:46 pm

TPN Rock cover artChris and Ewan

Ewan Spence, he of iPod Shuffle Shuffle fame (see here and here and here and here), has given me the chance to guest host an episode of TPN Rock, the weekly rock music show over on The Podcast Network that showcases the best unsigned, unknown and underappreciated rock music from around the world.

Despite some last-minute email technical disasters that meant I almost missed the absolute deadline, we made it.

Listen and download the show from this link.

Playlist:

Critical, by Sound Breaking Ground (www.soundbreakingground.com)
Things Are Looking Up, by American Heartbreak (www.americanheartbreak.com)
Stand, by Beth Thornley (www.beththornley.com)
1975, by Zamarro (www.zamarro.com)
Starting Over, by The Deadline (www.thedeadlinemusic.com)

Cheers for the opportunity Ewan – appreciate it!

Edinburgh Fringe podcasting and more on Ewan’s stuff clearing

Posted by Chris Green on Wednesday July 12 @ 10:16 pm

Ewan Lego figure

First up, don’t forget that my friend Ewan Spence is still running his innovative surplus stuff clearing initiative. Send him five pounds and he’ll send you some stuff he won’t be taking to his new digs.

Find out more here.

Next up, more news from Ewan, and it is about his Bafta-nominated Edinburgh Fringe podcast.

This year he is planning daily shows every day of the week (last year he kept Sundays as rest days, but not this year). Ewan has a bit of help for the Sunday show.

To quote Ewan: “The ‘Sunday Funky Supplement’ will be hosted by Stewart Lochhead. In his words, you (and me) are to expect the unexpected as he brings his long experience of working in theatre, radio, and the music business since 1962 to bear on the Fringe.”

There will be some regular guests, lots of banter and of course the best Fringe coverage you will find anywhere.

Find out more here.

Mad podcasting Scotsman in house-clearing raffle shocker!

Posted by Chris Green on Monday July 3 @ 3:31 pm

Ewan Spence, he of the 2005 iPod Shuffle Shuffle incident, is moving home. Trouble is, his new home is smaller than his current place, which means he needs to get rid of some of his surplus stuff such as gadgets, videos, tapes and so on.

Now when I clear out my unwanted bits and pieces, I usually list it all on eBay, buy Ewan has found a novel solution to get rid of the stuff he can’t fit into his new home.

Send Ewan five pounds via PayPal, and Ewan will send you a load of stuff.

Sinple yet effective. Have a look for yourself here.

Computing Podcast – Dot Net Solutions interview at Mix06

Posted by Chris Green on Tuesday March 28 @ 9:56 pm

My latest Computing Podcast is online over at computing.co.uk/podcasts. This is an interview from the ground at Mix06 in Las Vegas.

In this show, I talk to Tim Scarfe and Nick Swan from Windsor-based Dot Net Solutions at Microsoft’s Mix06 conference in Las Vegas. We discuss with them the pros and cons of Microsoft’s new developer technologies, Windows Vista and Internet Explorer from the developer and user perspectives.

You can download it and subscribe to the RSS feed for this and all future episodes at http://feeds.feedburner.com/computingpodcast

Computing Magazine @ Microsoft Mix06

Posted by Chris Green on Thursday March 16 @ 11:45 am

Mix06 Logo

I’m heading off to fabulous Las Vegas on Sunday to attend Microsoft’s Mix06 conference.

While I’m there I’ll be producing a special blog around the event for Computing Magazine, as well as filing no less than three podcasts from the event.

I will of course be posting items to my own blog while I am there.

http://www.computing.co.uk/mix06

http://www.computing.co.uk/podcast

Nutcase Scotsman in tech conference podcast blowout

Posted by Chris Green on Thursday February 23 @ 10:04 pm

My friend and colleague Ewan Spence, he of the iPod Shuffle Shuffle incident, is about to embark on a conference schedule that is quite frankly – nuts!

Similar to the kind of back-to-back conference schedule I used to do during the dot-com era, Ewan will be covering and podcasting from the following:

If all goes to plan, I’ll be meeting up with Ewan at Mix06, so don’t be surprised if we end up appearing on each other’s podcasts.

But in the meantime, get yourself over to http://techconf.thepodcastnetwork.com and shove the RSS feed into iTunes so you can get all the conference coverage when it starts flowing.

If you are attending any of these events and want to be part of the show from any of these conferences? Then drop Ewan a mail at ewanspence@gmail.com, and if you are at Mix06 in fabulous Las Vegas, you can drop me a line at chris@chrisgreen.co.uk and I will try and hook up with you for a chat for the Computing Podcast.

Computing Podcast – Number 6

Posted by Chris Green on Thursday February 23 @ 4:11 pm

My latest Computing Podcast is online over at computing.co.uk/podcasts. In this episode I report from the ground at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona.

This episode we interview Jim Morrison, CEO of smartphone maker i-mate about the evolution of the Windows Mobile-based smartphone, the growth of the industry in general, how battery technology is hoding back smartphone development and the lack of operator support for 3G smartphones.

You can download it directly and subscribe to the RSS feed for this and all future episodes at http://feeds.feedburner.com/computingpodcast

Computing Podcast – Number 5

Posted by Chris Green on Tuesday January 31 @ 12:48 pm

My latest Computing Podcast is online. In this episode I am joined by several studio guests to discuss the hot technology stories and issues of the week.

This episode we discuss the geopolitical problems facing Google as it tries to operate in the lucrative Chinese and US territories while grappling with the demands of the oppressive dictatorships that rule over these two countries.

We also discuss the growing threat of Phishing with IT journalist Craig Hinton, we look at the applications for ebilling in local government, and talk about the growing problems of online fraud and the implications of the 14 February Chip-and-PIN rollout deadline.

You can download it and subscribe to the RSS feed for this and all future episodes at http://feeds.feedburner.com/computingpodcast

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