Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

I can’t help but be slightly disappointed by the lack of Windows 7 promotional tie-ins here in the UK. Microsoft has truly outdone itself this time around with a number of bizarre link-ups that put most other software launches to shame.

For example, the US gets an advertising free episode of Family Guy featuring show favourites Brian and Stewie installing the new OS (an episode which incidentally may never see the light of day here due to product placement regulations):

Japan takes things one step further with this incredible Burger King promotion – the seven (yes, seven) burger Windows 7 Whopper:

Windows Whopper

Meanwhile, here in the UK we have to make do with a PC World trade-in offer. Come on Microsoft, if you want me to upgrade you’ll have to convince me harder than that.


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Just seen the US Federal Trade Commission is going to be cracking down on astro-turfing. Before the all-weather pitch fans amongst you get up in arms about this threat to a hockey player’s civil liberties, they’re talking about the nefarious business promoting practice type, not the fake grass type. Without wanting to sound too sanctimonious, it’s about time too. It might be that I’ve spent the last couple of years listening to division6 and others at the agency talk about the need for transparency on t’Internet, but when people get caught astroturfing (also known as flogging and puppeteering, apparently), it seems school-boy in the extreme.

The US is slightly behind the UK and the EU on this, with our legislation coming into effect last year (although there are questions as to how effectively it can be policed). Perhaps with the threat of punishment in the offline world, we’ll now see a clean up of online practices. Definitely worth seeing how things progress.

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The study I trailed yesterday on my personal blog has been published and reported on today. The full Broadband Quality Study from Cisco (my client) and the Oxford University Said Business School is available here.

The reason I care so much about this topic is that I truly believe that for societal and economic development, quality broadband connectivity is essential. The things you can do – from the simple act of being more connected to friends and family on Twitter and Facebook, to high-resolution video calling, photo & video uploads, & (in the future) interactive engagement in virtual environments (I still don’t quite believe in Second Life, but I do believe in what it and services like it will become) – dramatically change relationships, the way you learn, the way you interact, the way public services are delivered and much more.

I’m pleased that there’s so much development globally in terms of policy and infrastructure investment, particularly in the UK obviously. Keen to see wireless infrastructure development move on apace so we can bridge the urban/rural divide and get fibre-like broadband quality out to more people, more cost effectively (and get to a point with pervasive broadband connectivity across devices). I’d love to see more fibre too, but can’t help but feel that the days of multi-billion pound massively government subsidized infrastructure investment might be behind us for the time being… but we’ll see!

Cisco’s study looks at how broadband quality varies internationally – quality rather than pure speed as latency, the other factor weighted in when considering quality, effects the usefulness of a broadband connection in delivering certain services – e.g. realtime video communications, as opposed to video downloads, the former of which requires low latency (delay), the latter of which is a little more tolerant. The UK ranks in at number 25, which isn’t too bad when you consider that most of our telecommunications infrastructure was built out in the middle of the 20th century and we have aggressive targets for improvement in the future thanks to the recent Digital Britain commitments. We also do well for broadband penetration thanks to our universal service mandate, which bodes well for my eventual move to the countryside…

Have a read, let me know what you think.

Crossposted at Division6.

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Ok, so this came out at the end of last week but it remains one of the most popular technology stories on the Telegraph website so thought it might be worth a post. The article looks at things that are being killed by the internet – anything from polite disagreement to Sarah Palin to dogging. It is pretty funny and well worth a read.  I particularly miss Ceefax and page 302 for football news.

Speaking of popular articles on the Telegraph, this is proving popular – how 20 of the most popular websites in the world looked when originally launched. Interesting to see how they have developed.

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My four-year-old’s latest parlour trick is to turn on the PC, open up a browser window, find the Cbeebies home page, and play away.  She can manage this completely unsupervised.  Unchecked, she can be playing away for several hours at a time.  To our embarrassment, she often pulls the same stunt on the computers of any friends or relatives we happen to visit – no matter the hardware or operating system.

This got me thinking.  my daughter”s only four now but in twenty odd years she’ll probably be a business IT user, and her expectations of what she’ll expect her company’s IT to deliver will have been shaped by her experiences as a youngster:

  • Immediate access to applications regardless of the hardware you happen to be using
  • Questions like “can I run this on my machine?” are irrelevant
  • Any delay in accessing / retrieving information is unacceptable
  • All IT and communications hardware is connected to the Internet without restriction
  • The physical limitations of the hardware you’re using shouldn’t get in the way of productivity

No major new insights here – but it is fascinating to think that a whole generation of youngsters are growing up taking things like networking, broadband access and cross-platform compatibility completely for granted.  Their expectations of what IT can deliver are entirely different.

In the meantime, I think I need to set up some password protection and access restrictions back at home!

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I think Spotify is fantastic – www.spotify.com. It is great to have an on-line jukebox with millions of songs with high quality sound. You can listen to all kinds of tunes once only, including those naff ones you would never dream of buying, without having to buy them. I introduced Spotify to my kids who now use it a lot too. Their response made me think about how they will be about security when they come into the workplace. They have created one account which they share with their friends  at school and then they create playlists for each other. A bit like the way people used to give each us compilation cassette tapes but less hassle. I wonder whether they will need lessons on security and privacy when they start in the workplace. However it does make you realise how open tomorrow’s workforce will be to collaboration technologies.

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Ahoy me hearties. I’ve raised the Jolly Roger and taken over the Chivalry House ship.

I’m late to the party on this, but pirates are back in a big way. For much of last month barely a day went by without another reported attack off the coast of Somalia, then the Pirate Bay founders finally appeared in court (and lost – although an appeal may yet save them). Next was Wolverine, whose famous healing powers were tested when his big budget movie launch was trumped by an early copy popping up online, and then, best of all, Facebook became infinitely more fun and interesting than it has in years with the pirate language option (yes, I am that easily pleased).

The traditional, seabound pirate variety got a lot of traction last month and it was pretty scary stuff. One of the more exciting twists was when the media brought Obama in on the act. What must have been a challenging, yet routine mission to rescue a US captain was reported more like an episode of 24, with the President personally giving the snipers the green light to shoot – almost as if surveying the scene from afar with binoculars before calling in Jack Bauer and giving the order.

I’m more interested, though, in the repercussions of the Pirate Bay trial on movie piracy and online distribution. I won’t deny ever using sites like The Pirate Bay, particularly during my uni days. That was the golden age, if you will, of Internet piracy – broadband was a still relatively new thing and practically every film, CD, software or even book appeared online, often before official release. Agree or disagree, you can see the appeal to a poor student. With less time and more money these days, I don’t go there anymore – but I know many still do.

The challenge for the movie studios now is to adapt and evolve to meet the demands of an 21st century, net-savvy audience. Personally I don’t think Hollywood can ever beat the geeks at their own game. While they may manage to close The Pirate Bay, a hundred more will spring up in its place. There have been some overtures to drag film distribution forward: US Lovefilm-alike NetFlix allows members to stream directly over the web, YouTube has recently announced plans to stream entire films and services like iPlayer and Hulu are improving and growing in popularity all the time.

But as yet, there is no Spotify moment on the horizon. I mention that service specifically because it’s truly a watershed in how music reaches its audience – and all who see it, young and old alike, immediately understand it and get started. I have heard friends say they went home and introduced the service to their mum or dad only to find that they started using it weeks ago – when was the last time that happened!?

The film industry needs to get its act together, and refocus its efforts from prevention and prosecution to finding new methods of online distribution. My personal belief, albeit one that is not shared by many, is that online file-sharing of music and films has only a negligible effect on sales – a viewpoint backed up somewhat by record box-office takings this year and a recent survey on music buying habits. What it demonstrates is that people want a new, convenient, cheap way to access content. Give us that, and although sites like The Pirate Bay will survive, they won’t ever prosper like before.

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