Archives for posts with tag: technology

Ok, so we’re three days in and honestly? I don’t miss it!

Well, that’s not strictly true. Having to re-learn how to live with predictive text, which persistently replaces the word “don’t” with “foot” as you ignore the apostrophe, in trying to save characters and typing time, is pretty annoying. As is constantly having to constantly erase your messages because there’s one pending delivery and there isn’t a slot to store it in.

Also irritating is that there was no straight-forward (at least, not manual) way of transferring my contacts across. I’ve literally had to start my address book again for the next few weeks, so I apologise now to all the friends of mine who text me in the coming days and either don’t get a response because Apple hasn’t removed my number from their iMessage servers, resulting in a message that just never delivers, or who get a response from me saying “Sorry, don’t have this number saved. Long story, who is this?”

I realise I’ve turned to social media, but at least this way I’ve had a chance to tell at least one or two people what’s going on. I’m also going to point out now that I see WordPress as more of a hobby than anything else. I never profess to writing anything that would be regarded as prolific, but I enjoy doing it. Also, it’s configured to automatically post this on Facebook and Tweet it – BEFORE ANYONE SAYS ANYTHING!! 

Having said that, I also don’t have the constant fear that it’s going to run out of juice on me, either. I’m not constantly looking for a place to charge it. That in itself is a massive stress I carry with me, thanks to my iPhone…

Bizarrely, with a blanket ban on it, I’m not feeling the need to scour any of it at all. The upshot of that is I’m finding the ability to focus on one task at a time far easier, which was one of the main reasons behind doing this the first place. I did toy with the idea of handing over control of the main culprits to my Mum, or my Sister. Although I felt this would ultimately do me an injustice, I also wanted to test my ability to ignore them during the day. Strangely enough, I’m managing that no problem too, although I do have one of the guys in the department kindly offering to check the sites my work laptop visits of a day to make sure I don’t break any promises… He’s also taken it upon himself to search both my desk and my person every morning to make sure I haven’t smuggled in any contraband.

I am finding time spent in the car driving to and from work is far less enjoyable… I can usually be found listening to Lana Del Ray, some Fleetwood Mac or more recently, Melbourne Underground. Instead I have Nick Grimshaw and Greg James for company and, as entertaining as they are, they’re just NAE the same!

In the days that followed, I have had people make a few suggestions. Some have suggested raising money for charity, others that I perhaps allow some time for it in the evenings, to realise the benefits of not being connected with everyone I know all day every day.

I did have a charity idea in mind, when the thought of doing this first struck me  on Monday night. As the guy who’s tweet spawned the entire experiment, Liam Hackett, is CEO of Ditch The Label an anti-bullying charity based in Brighton, my immediate thought was that I would raise money for him. He’s doing a sponsored silence on the 18th of May and has set up a JustGiving page. I finally got round to sponsoring him for it tonight, and if you want to sponsor him there’s a link here.

If you’re into such things, you can follow Liam and Ditch the Label on Twitter – @DiaegoLiam and @DitchTheLabel.

However, I feel this is a bit of a first-world problem. Raising money through sponsorship usually involves having to put yourself through some form of suffering. For example, running a 10k, or the London Marathon, as my chum Sophie from work did just recently. Raising a whopping £5k for Meningitis Now in the process, I hasten to add! Living without your smartphone for a few weeks really isn’t a hardship, but I guess it all depends on what your stance is. Quite a few people have voiced their opinions; many of them have stated the wouldn’t be able to do it…so perhaps that’s reason enough in itself to squeeze a few quid out of my adoring fans? :p

I guess what it really comes down to is the general consensus. After all, charities still do good work and it’s about providing them with the resources to continue. If I manage to raise a sum for a group of people trying to make a real difference in the world, what’s the harm? There should be a comment section underneath this, let me know your thoughts and, if the reaction is positive and people don’t see what I”m doing as something wholly narcissistic, I’ll set something up. That is, when I’ve surfaced from my gin coma in the morning…

Please post them on the Wordpress post. I won’t be able to see them if they’re on Facebook…!

The last suggestion was to keep a diary of some description, which I’m currently doing now (thanks Dorota!). I had toyed with keeping a video diary that I would post at the end, but what might surprise you is that I actually hate being in front of the camera, so I decided against that… If I think my struggles are going to be interesting though, I’ll keep doing this.

Keep tweeting folks. For my sake, if nothing else!

Lewis
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In spite of my usual postings about technology, ranting about people and their inappropriate use of social-media (if there can be such a thing), work, procrastination, wine and more technology, I wanted this post to be a little more along the lines of what others post; something thought provoking, and hopefully interesting.

As many of you know (shockingly, I didn’t) this year marked the 50th anniversary of the staple of British pop culture: James Bond. What better way to do it than with yet another box office smash. I must, however, tread carefully; this is not a review of the movie, nor is it a spoiler. Although if you haven’t seen it by now, you’d be as well to get a yellow badge to wear on your left lapel with the word ‘Philistine’ inked on it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Before I begin, this is not an Elton John tribute. I hate his toupé, and his stumpy arms…

This last week has seen my church give birth to the next iteration of the iPhone. Not being an ‘S’ model I had mine on pre-order within 20 minutes of going on sale, but, having chose to have it delivered to the UPS deemed “remote” town of Westhill, I had to wait until Monday before I got my hands on it. Raging…

I love it; as you would all expect. It’s tall, slim, dark, sexy (not to mention chipped at the top having already dropped it a mere 24 hours after getting it). It’s everything I’d want in a woman but have to suffice with in a phone instead, until such time as my career makes me attractive enough to them; some time in my early 30’s.

So, clearly I have some waiting to do.

As always, it’s sparked controversy among the many Apple haters out there. I was asked if it was genuinely worth it, or if I had only bought it out of being such an “acolyte.”

Firstly, and even I have to admit this: between this and the last iteration, not all that much has changed. I came from an iPhone 4, so the dual core chip is a more than welcome addition. The taller screen is good also, but I am somewhat irritated by the fact it has UK support for LTE…provided you’re on 3 or Everything Everywhere (read Orange or T-Mobile). As I said before however, in this LTE game, it’s pretty tough to make one phone work on all the radio bands being used globally. The antenna configurations alone would occupy more space than this size zero really allows for. Let’s also remember that this is technically a “world phone”; it’s capable of communicating on both GSM and CDMA networks, and it will also roam between them, so if you buy a Verizon iPhone 5 in The States, you can stick an AT&T SIM in it and change your provider. (According to an article I read on Engadget earlier this week.)

Samsung are yet to do this… In fact, buy an S III on Verizon in The States, and you’re stuck with them. No interchangeable SIM card either. Sucks to be you…

Apple came under fire this last week however, regarding their announcement that they were ousting Google as their iOS Maps provider in favour of their own creation. People upgrading their phones to iOS 6 have noticed that locations do not come up correctly when searching; for instance when searching for the Washington Monument, the pin drops some 200 yards away from where it’s actually created; Westminster Abbey shows up as Westminister; and football stadiums show up in the most random locations at opposing ends of the country from where they’re supposed to be.

I tried to get photographic evidence of this but it appears they are already hard at work rectifying things.

Naturally, due to the size of Apple, this is hilarious. Just as we did with Microsoft in the nineties, the hecklers have dived on this in an attempt to demonstrate to the public that Apple has grown to be too big for its boots; that this marks the end of their success; that one day Android will take over.

What people fail to realise is that, as with any significant undertaking, some of the cracks simply don’t show until it’s out there, operating under business as usual.

What people have also failed to recognise is that Apple are capable of admitting to their mistakes, apologising, and listening to their customers feedback. Just over two years ago, Steve Jobs called a second press conference shortly after the launch of the iPhone 4, following the discovery on launch day of the issue with the antenna when gripped in a certain manner. He presented a case, indicating the relevant testing which had been performed on the handset, in-house; he demonstrated the effect the same handling of several other, similar handsets on the market produced the same effect, and he also explained what the company was going to do about it.

Tim Cook got up on stage this week, and did exactly the same thing. He admitted that Apple had failed, in its bid to deliver a product which gave its customers what they wanted:

“We apologize for disappointing some of you, and we are doing our best to live up to your high expectations of Apple.”

No other company, particularly one as large or globally renowned as Apple, does this. I was told by a colleague once that the golden rule was never to apologise for mistakes; to gloss over them and carry on, because they’d eat you alive! It’s a sign of weakness, of acknowledgement of ones imperfections.

The full letter of apology can be found on Apple’s website, here  

I disagree with this. I think it takes a far bigger set of balls to apologise and admit failure, than it takes to side step it and act as though nothing happened. The same goes for the wronged party; it’s easy to bear a grudge and ignore the other persons efforts to rectify the issue.

Apple has apologised for many of the things which have inconvenienced their customers. For instance, last year when the iPhone 4S went on pre-order, the Apple Store crashed, and many were forced to abandon their attempts to grab one for launch day. The same happened when Apple launched the 27-inch iMac; supplier delays pushed waiting times for each unit up by several weeks.

Mistakes happen; we need to accept that. As clichéd as this sounds, it is what makes us human, after all. I apologise too often, and take responsibility for far too much, causing me far more stress than I should really endure in a day.

So, in answer to the question: Yes, it’s worth it. I needed a new phone, as my 16GB iPhone 4 was at full capacity. It does everything I want it to: impromptu night out photo’s; posting said impromptu photo’s to various social media locations; texting and email; music… I don’t need a phone where I can fanny about and screw up, I spend enough time during my day job fixing stuff; the last thing I need is for it to encroach on my personal life. Sure, the battery in this thing doesn’t last long enough to keep up with me (there were no other connotations meant by that statement), but at the end of the day, all I need it to do is keep me in contact with my best mate while she’s gallivanting abroad; doing her Masters, stumbling (lost) into Brussels on her way home from a night out. Granted, I use it for a lot more than that, but that is a basic requirement for any communications device I invest in. #fact

Lewis
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“Apple fined over Australia iPad trouble”

This annoys me.

Granted, I spend many hours on here, spouting about how I know that Apple are pretty good at what they do, but todays rant is coming from a totally different angle. Many of you are aware now, that I did my honours thesis on Mobile Communications. As such, I know a thing or two about how it all works, although I’m not about to claim to be some kind of expert.

For those of you who are not aware, the above quote taken from an article in The Independent relates to a court battle which Apple has lost in Australia regarding The New iPad. They’ve lost the case, because it is incompatible with the LTE networks which are used in Australia, and as such the Australians do not see how the iPad can be branded as a ‘4G’ device.

There is a great anomaly surrounding so-called 4G, with many different specifications and alternatives currently floating around. However, the globally accepted standard appears to be LTE, despite my recommendation in my thesis that we should go for Wi-MAX, providing both a high-speed mobile network and a global wireless internet access system simultaneously. Killing two birds with one stone, we’d be able to increase internet access in both our homes and whilst out, and it would work with everything we have already.

Of course, that doesn’t work well for hardware manufacturers, Apple included…

Bar the United States, there are few countries which have successfully began implementing a TRUE 4G cellular network. Some claim to, some are working on it, but as I said before there is a great deal of confusing regarding what 4G really is, and I intend to clarify this right now.

LTE stands for ‘Long Term Evolution.’ A fitting name, the motivation behind LTE is to create a new mobile network standard which will stand the test of time more effectively than 3G did. There are two subdivisions of LTE; LTE and LTE-Advanced. True 4G, which will be covered later, is the latter of the two. Networks classed as LTE are not fully 4G, but comply in the sense that they are based on the same standards which will

The ITU-R, the radio communication sector division of the ITU, are responsible for defining the specification for new wireless communication systems. 4G was drafted over 10 years ago, and the ITU-R intimated that for a mobile network to be truly classed as 4G, it should be aiming to provide an experience which lends itself to high-speed data provisioning, and the delivery of broadband internet access to remote areas. Although new networks will continue to provide traditional means of conducting telephony, the emphasis is now on moving to an IP-based core network, to converge services onto the same core standard, and thereby make them more scalable and efficient.

This is all that the ITU-R do. They do not design the solutions themselves; manufacturers develop systems and present them to the ITU-R, in the hopes of being awarded a license and a section of electromagnetic spectrum in which to operate it.

The ITU-R also has the responsibility of ensuring that the available electromagnetic spectrum is divided equally, and that only one service is broadcasting on a particular segment of it. 

There have been several attempts to create a 4G network, and some of the confusion regarding it comes from the mobile networks themselves, which I’m going to explain now.

3G was based on a standard known as UMTS. It outlined a new core network and radio access method for wireless networking in the third generation, but was also compatible with legacy networks, such as GSM, to allow an easier migration from 2G to 3G. 3G has been improved however, and in it’s latest iteration, which is known as 3.9G, is High Speed Packet Access.

High Speed Packet Access, or HSPA, is an IP based form of mobile networking. On an HSPA connection, a mobile device can see a download rate of around 7.1Mbps. Upload rates peak at around 2Mpbs. As with an Asynchronous DSL link, the upload rate is expended to make downloads faster, as it is assumed most subscribers will spend a greater majority of their usage receiving, rather than sending. HSPA can be further broken down into 2 components: HSDPA and HSUPA. The D and U can be interchanged for Download and Upload, respectively, and only refers to the uplink and downlink of the connection.

For those of you with Android phones, this is what the ‘H’ means in the status bar at the top of the screen. iOS users, the phone just says 3G regardless of the type of network you’re connected to. 

HSPA has evolved in itself; adequately named HSPA+. On an HSPA+ connection, and in perfect radio conditions, a subscriber can expect a peak data rate of 168Mbps down and 22Mbps up. This is under perfect radio conditions, i.e. when standing in the immediate proximity of a cell tower and in the absence of external interference.

The latter is a phenomena that is wholly impossible to reproduce, as wireless interference is present everywhere.

The ITU-R have ruled that, despite HSPA+ being too far beyond the original 3G specification for it to be considered a 3G networking method, it does not come close enough to the minimum requirements of 4G to qualify. However, as it’s based on the technology which will power LTE-Advanced, mobile networks can brand their HSPA+ services as 4G if they see fit.

Now, spot the problem.

In the United States, AT&T operate an HSPA+ network, alongside the LTE-Advanced network which they are currently rolling out. They market it as a 4G network, and as such, Apple were forced to modify the iPhone 4S with iOS 5.1 to display ‘4G’ on the status bar when the device connects to an HSPA+ network, thereby tricking consumers who owned an iPhone 4S into thinking they had purchased a 4G device unknowingly.

This is not the case.

In Australia, HSPA+ networks are also in operation, although no providers down under market them as 4G, through their own choice. The New iPad is compatible with HSPA+ networks, along with LTE networks provided by AT&T, who’s network is predominantly GSM based, Verizon and Sprint, who’s networks use Quolcomms IS-95 standard plus it’s third and fourth generation developments.

The problem we have here is spectral availability. Although the ITU-R governs radio communication globally, the responsibility for it is devolved to a group in each country. OfCom is the organisation which is responsible for the use of spectrum in the UK.

When a new mobile service is developed, it is given a license to operate within a particular band of the electromagnetic spectrum by the ITU-R, through the local governing body of the country it operates in. This permits the systems operation in that country.

This does not guarantee however, that the same segment of electromagnetic spectrum is available in every country which the system is going to operate. Hence the issue we now have in Australia…

The same goes for us unfortunately. For LTE-Advanced to be implemented in the UK on the same band as the US, the digital television service will need to be moved. Not something that many will be happy with, as this will require a change in end-user hardware, in order to be able to pick up channels on the new band that would be needed.

Apple got into trouble with marketing legislation in Australia, for falsely advertising the capabilities of the device in Australia. They’ve already been forced to re-write the web-page for the iPad on their website, stating that:

4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the U.S. and on Bell, Rogers, and Telus networks in Canada.

Nothing can be done about this by Apple. The iPad is a 4G compliant device, as ruled by the ITU-R, as it connects to networks which meet the 4G specification which they outlined. It is not the job of a hardware manufacturer to align the infrastructure of several countries.

I think this is utterly ridiculous, and it would not have received half the media attention it had if Samsung had been at fault here. Apple is an American company and will naturally ensure that customers on home turf are satisfied before looking elsewhere.

I have nothing against the Australians. However, the networks themselves must realise the potential business growth the iPad would hold for them, and as a result they should be looking to standardise on the same band for LTE as is used elsewhere.

It’s really not that much to ask. After all, standardisation of cellular communications is what led to the development of GSM by the Europeans; to allow mobile communications to continue to operate seamlessly, in a continent where there is a great amount of inter-population movement. Subscriber migration is now on the same scale globally, so these countries that throw a hissy fit because one hardware manufacturer has done something that doesn’t match up with them need to wise up.