Thursday, October 27, 2005

A temptation (not) resisted

I'm at the Wi-Fi business development summit in Milan. I'm in a theatre in a conference centre owned by IBM. And I'm on Wi-Fi of course.

I notice that my phone has no signal. Not a poor signal, but a completee absence of GSM. the explanation is pretty obvious - the walls are metal. This is deliberate. No one at the conference so far has had to say "please turn off your mobile phones", because IBM made the whole theatre into a Faraday cage.

So the temptation is clear: I really should turn the sound up on the laptop, and get someone to phone me on Skype. I won't of course, but it would be worth it, to see the IBM staff's double take, and to have the first phone to ring in the centre.

On the other hand, I could ring someone else's Skype. How about Nico MacDonald who is sitting at the back? Of course, he too has his volume down. Ah well, back to the conference session.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sex and violence

Just a quick thought. Sex and violence are the two things on TV to which children's access is limited. But as a parent, I react to them in opposite ways.

With sex, I am happier if it's realistic - ie non-pornographic, and portrayed with its consequences and attendant emotions. With violence, the more realistic it gets, the more unhappy I am.

I'm thinking that because we're all hooked on Firefly, the cult-TV-series (thanks to Eamonn Sullivan, who lent us the DVDs).

It's a 15, but then so is Joss Whedon's previous opus, Buffy, and that went out at tea-time on UK TV. There's been implied sex right from the start, with a major character being a "Companion" or high-class call-girl, but it's only in Episode ten when there is torture, that I start to think, is this all right for everyone? Actually, if there's torture, I'd rather it was unrealistic, like the machine in the Princess Bride, than seeing someone's ear cut off....

On the whole, I'm happy to trust Whedon's moral universe and press on. It's great character-driven storytelling. The girls are all hooked, and sing the theme tune all the time....

But violence. Why do we watch it? Is it different because I can't actually imagine real pain and am genuinely scared of it?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Do phones do too much?

When I mentioned I'd been to a smartphone show, it sparked that old conversation about how "phones do too much".

Well, I said. I was synchronising my calendar this morning and speaking on the phone at the same time. Then later in the day, on the same phone, I was listening to the radio and taking pictures at the same time.

The point is that this is not on a "smartphone", but a standard-ordinary phone that I got free with a low-rate contract (a Sony Ericsson K700i if you want numbers). It's not a toy I've borrowed or splashed out to get. It's an ordinary day-to-day phone.

While I was at the show, I tried email on it. I wouldn't recommend this as an email device - it doesn't show very many messages on screen, and jumbles the subject fields so you can't see which message came from whom. But it does email (and unlike my friend Kieren I found it quite easy to set up).

The camera is adequate, and so is the FM radio. It also synchs by Bluetooth without too much tweaking, and displays calendar appointments and contacts very nicely.

I don't think phones do too much. If anything, they still do too little. The features they have are often still fiddly. What is happening now is that they are starting to make it easy to do the things they do. Email and the web are the next things to be made easy (see O2's i-mode and T-Mobile's Web'n'walk for instance)

Like I say, I'm looking at what can be done on a more-or-less bog-standard phone. Smartphones and higher featured phones may do it better and easier - in a bigger heavier package - but the baseline level of phone can pack quite a lot of fun.

Next, I'm going to use voice dialling...

Monday, October 10, 2005

Washing the guinea pigs

Kitty and I washed Hannah's guinea pigs on Saturday. Here are some pictures of the occasion

Howl's Moving Castle

A lovely film -- we emerged into the evening sunshine in Clapham, and the world looked different. The yellow handrails on the 137 bus were brighter, and the sky was bluer.

It's all about love and connection. It's a lot like Spirited Away (in fact some of the characters look a little too much like the characters in Spirited Away.

I think Spirited Away might be a better film. It felt more as if it came from the folk tales of a real country, not from a made-up world. Howl seems to have moved into a more multi-national world with bigger distribution and (I think) bigger names on the English soundtrack.

But Howl's moving castle is what it said it is. Moving.