On the #Clarkson outrage

December 2, 2011

You’d have to have been living under a rock the size of Manhattan not to have noticed the massive outpouring of rage vented mostly across Twitter in the last two days. All this anger was channelled towards one man, with one hashtag – #clarkson. So I thought I’d join in and add my two penn’s this ever-increasing pot!

In case you are in any doubt over what happened, Jeremy Clakson appeared on ‘The One Show’ on Wednesday. When asked what he thought about striking Nurses, he  claimed that he thought they were wrong to do it and that he would have them all shot in front of their families.

OK, so it wasn’t Clarkson’s finest moment, but as you can see from the clip here, his intentions were clearly tongue in cheek. He goes on to make a mockery of the fact he doesn’t exactly work a tough job for his salary. It was sarcastic and satire, it was not ever meant to be a personal attack.

But this is what many took it to be. Angered public sector workers took to the social networks to argue their point. A few famous faces on the site picked up on the story and started stating their point, making this already a bigger topic than it should have been. This got the interest of the Union’s, particularly Unison who decided that this was outrageous and claimed they would not settle until Clarkson was sacked. In fact, Unison went as far as to seek legal advise over the comments.

Wait a moment, what’s happened here! Clarkson was simply putting across his views (that public sector strikes were wrong – but at the same time he could see their reasoning behind them) but doing it in his style. This is Jeremy Clarkson’s brand, it always has been. If Jimmy Carr was to make the same joke on 8 out of 10 cats, no-one would have batted an eyelid. Granted the timing was a bit out – 7pm BBC One isn’t the best place to make a risque joke, but that’s all it was. There’s no need for Unison to waste a whole heap of their members money on legal advice for a joke.

Perhaps instead of getting in a rage over the situation, the people involved should grow some thicker skin – what was that old English phrase again, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” If you are against those views, don’t let the bother you, change the channel and continue with your lives – don’t get stuck cursing the thing you hate.

And I’m not saying that people aren’t allowed to be offended by the comments, but people have been acting like Clarkson actually carried out these executions instead of using the words to make a point.

Of course, a lot of this may not have happened if it wasn’t for the ‘wondrous’ services available on the internet. As Padraig Reidy argues here, without YouTube to view it (lets face it, more people saw it online than the original transmission) and Twitter to start the wildfire, people may have already forgotten the comment even existed. Instead, the main focus may still be on the faltering Government who thanks to Clarkson stealing the limelight, seem to have got away lightly from the strike action. Instead it seems our ‘me-too’, ‘+1’, ‘bandwagon-jumping’ culture has only strengthened and made us forget the bigger issues in life.

At the time of writing, Clarkson has now apologised, the unions have stepped down (despite official BBC complaints reaching 21,000) and the term #clarkson has stopped trending on Twitter. Maybe we can just file this one under ‘bonkers Britain’ and move on. But whenever another of these mass-outrage-at-a-joke situations flares up I always get a bit sad that in this country we have week and truly lost our sense of humour and ability to laugh at ourselves – and that is the truly disappointing outcome of this whole debacle…




What it’s about

Stupidity of it

My viewpoint

idea of people jumping on bandwagon

Sad fact that we have lost sense of humour

The Fast Lane – It finally falls in place for Webber in 2011!

November 27, 2011

We’ve come a long way since lights out in Australia earlier this year. We’ve seen some of the most on-track action in many a season, but also the most dominated one since the Schumacher years (funny how things work out!) Since Vettel won the championship in Japan we’ve had a few mediocre races at the newer tracks, but today saw us return to a classic, Brazil for the final GP of the season.

Qualifying on Saturday was – as it has been for most of the season – a Red Bull washout. Vettel was in a class of his own to get pole position, followed by his team-mate Mark Webber in second with the Mclarens and Alonso following. But surely anything could happen on Sunday  – especially with rain in the forecast…

Unsurprisingly, the rain never came and as the race started out in dry conditions, Vettel and Webber proved how dominant Red Bull could be – both were clear of any rivals they had by the third corner of the GP. However the biggest winner off the start was Alonso. It’s been a great year for Alonso’s launch starts and today was no different. He dispatched of Hamilton off the line and took only 10 laps to sail round the outside of Button for third position. Unfortunately, by this point third place was already over ten seconds behind the blitzing pace of Vettel and Webber.

Michael Schumacher is no stranger to success around the Sao Paulo circuit, but today he found himself in tenth early on, battling with local hero Bruno Senna. This was to be Schumacher’s highest position of the day as on lap 11 he collided with Senna going into the first corner. It was a close one to call, Schumacher did seem to turn in on Senna, but there was little movement between them in the braking zone. I would have called racing incident, but the stewards decided Senna was to blame and handed the Brazilian a drive-through penalty. Schumacher also fell back after a puncture from the incident.

Sadly, this was as much on-track action as we were to get in the early to mid-stages of the race. The far more interesting action was happening over the radio as Red Bull confirmed on numerous occasions that Vettel had a serious gearbox issue. This led to a slower (although admittedly only slightly slower) Vettel and a yield to teammate Mark Webber on lap 30. Now, this will be the topic of much debate – was this a gearbox issue or not. Red Bull are adamant there was an issue and didn’t expect Vettel to finish the GP. However it seems more than a little strange that Vettel continued to set very hot laps whilst carrying his gearbox issues. Was Mark Webber gifted a first victory of 2011 by his team?

What is certain is that Vettel wasn’t the only one with gearbox issues. Bruno Senna was reportedly stuck in sixth gear for a lot of the race and Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire after his gearbox gave up on lap 48 topping iff a lacklustre weekend for the Brit. Perhaps the constantly re-used gearboxes finally took their toll at the end of the year – but it was strange to see such a reliable season end with three gearbox failures!

Looking a little further back and it was another disappointing weekend for Massa. After a strong start, the Brazilian just saw himself fighting to keep positions instead of challenging for others, the most interesting of these being a three-lap scrap with Lewis Hamilton before he retired. Felipe needs to work to regain his full-race pace in 2012, he often has cracking starts but cannot last the same race distance – I hope we see more from him next year.

A notable mention should go to Force India and Adrian Sutil today who fought valiantly with Nico Rosberg to provide some heart-stopping moments into the first corner. Sutil came out on top and managed to grab a strong sixth position for the team. His team-mate Paul di Resta also put in an impressive performance to finish eighth.

But the race wasn’t over yet. Jenson Button did his usual trick of storming the last quarter of the race. After his final pit-stop it took him mere laps to catch up to Alonso and pass the struggling Ferrari driver with ease. After this his sights were set on Vettel. Sadly, as we have often seen, it was too little too late for any further action, Vettel held second comfortably and came home second to Mark Webber’s first victory of the season.

And it’s worth celebrating Mark’s drive today. In 2011 he has been completely overshadowed (on track but certainly not in height!) by his team-mate Sebastien Vettel. Coming back to what I wrote earlier, Mark was not gifted this win, he earned it with a solid drive from start to finish – not a foot wrong throughout. I think this is summed up by his three consecutive fastest laps on the last three laps of the race, despite desperate cries from his team not to push too hard – that’s a true racer, well done Mark!

The season finished with the tyre smoke of Felipe Massa billowing towards the home-straight. Good on Felipe for giving the fans what they wanted with some good ol’ doughnuts and ignoring the silly FIA regulation against them.

Of course, here in the UK, we’re looking towards a quite different 2012 coverage-wise. It will be split between the BBC and Sky. Sky will show all races live with in-depth analysis on their brand new channel, whereas the BBC will show 10 races live and provide re-runs (that’s what Jake said!) and highlights of the others.

This has angered many, who understandably believe all F1 races should be live on free-to-view TV. However, after todays race, I was left more than a little underwhelmed at the lack of on-track action and actually crave a slightly shorter highlights package. I felt like it was all a bit of a waste of my Sunday, which isn’t how I’ve been feeling about F1 for a long time.

All I’m saying is that I wont be getting the Sky coverage and really don’t think I’ll mind missing half the season live.

Of course the true test of this will come next year when the first two GP’s of the season are exclusively live on SkySports, but right now – for the first time in a while – I’m ready for a break from Formula One…


The Fast Lane – The great Hamilton return of Abu Dhabi 2011

November 14, 2011

As we all sat down around the world at 1.00PM GMT yesterday to watch the Abu Dhabi GP – a track where only one man, Sebatien Vettel has ever won a Grand Prix, where the same man was currently sitting at the front of the grid in the best car of the 2011 season – there was one thing no-one was expecting to see. Vettel out at the second corner!

Now it’s mean to celebrate at others misfortune – I’ve written on this blog how much I admire Sebastien’s driving and I think we all know what amazing talent that man has – but I couldn’t help but leap for joy when I saw that second corner spin! At last, a race Vettel wasn’t going to win simply from the front.

It turned out that the German had suffered the unlucky fate of a rear puncture causing him to lose control of his Red Bull. The sad news was that this really was it for Vettel’s day – despite nursing the car back to the pit, it was too badly damaged to continue and any valiant drive through the field we may have hoped for was not to be.

It was Lewis Hamilton who took up the baton that Vettel dropped and led the field through the early laps. Just behind him was an impressive Alonso who had taken every chance at the start, driving around both Webber and Button with ease. Judging by Ferrari’s performance this season, you might have thought Alonso would soon fade away and be taken by both Button and Webber, but it wasn’t the case. The Spaniard got something special out of his car and managed to match and beat Hamilton’s lap times out front – remaining around 2 – 3 seconds behind the Brit. Maybe it was the shadow of the impressive Ferrari World spurring him on!

Behind the top two, a slightly different battle was going on between Button, Massa and Webber. Massa initially started to out pressure on Button who was suffering with a KERS issue. With the double DRS available at this track, it was looking possible for the Brazillian to sneak through. But all this focus forward had made Massa lose sight of the man behind him. It took several laps and even more DRS zones, but Mark Webber was clearly the faster car and managed to make his way past the Ferrari driver.

Webber took to chasing down Button, but as we have seen throughout the year, if there’s one thing Button can do, it’s look after his tyres. Webber couldn’t, in fact he rather destroyed his, forcing an extra pit stop and an extra set of soft tyres. This tactic moved Webber past Button into third position, but it wasn’t to last. Webber still had to pit for his harder tyres, doing so on the final lap and losing the position.

The top two had an astounding pace, both trading fastest laps throughout the race. But it was Hamilton who remained the dominant, always a few seconds down the road from Alonso and avoiding any wheel-to-wheel racing (boo!). This was a man back on form – it’s a shame we couldn’t see how close he was to Vettel on track.

The undisputed villain of the race has to be Pastor Maldonado. I’m unsure what on earth he was doing throughout the GP. He was constantly ignoring blue flags and generally getting in everyones way – nearly crashing into Felipe Massa. It’s poor form to be this bad at following the simple F1 rules and something which yesterday was rightly punished (although that just put him in even more people’s way!)

Lewis Hamilton has said of his win, that this is the start of a new beginning for the driver. Lets hope so, because I feel that the Lewis which won the championship in 2008 has been missing in action ever since. The question still remains though, how does Lewis at his peak shape up to the might of Vettel. Maybe in Brazil in two weeks, at the BBC’s last full F1 broadcast, we will find out…

The Facebook changes – especially Timelines – are great!

October 8, 2011

I’ve got a bit bored of Facebook recently. The site seemed to have lost it’s way a bit. The simple idea of sharing photos and interacting with your friends had been replaced with ‘Like’ buttons and poor quality games. I just found my entire newsfeed to be clogged up with this rubbish I had no interest and thus found myself driven away from the site.

Then a few weeks ago, I saw a bit of an uproar from users of the site (ironically on Twitter) due to some new updates. I curiously investigated and I have to say I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.

Basically the news feed appears to have changed so that ‘top news’ is now more prominent than recent news. This was previously split into two different feeds and you could choose which you looked at – which was perhaps for many a better way of presenting it. However, all your news is still there, it’s just that the top news is now more prominent. For me this can actually be very helpful as I only check Facebook once or twice a day. I can now pick up on top stories shared on the site alot quicker. I also like how Facebook groups stories together now (on thursday it told me how many of my friends had shared stories about Steve Jobs). Things like this seem to work well so far and can be very handy.

Photos are now displayed in a much more engaging way, giving you a better overview of what you’ll see in the album. In the new sidebar – which is a bit ugly but ultimately practical – your live updates and Facebook chat are now displayed much clearer and available on every page (instead of just the newsfeed). Overall the whole news feed experience seems to be more media rich, but crucially with much less of the clutter it used to have.

So after quite liking the changes, I decided to look a bit deeper at Facebook’s latest project – timelines. This is the new name for your profile – or wall – something which has stayed fairly static on Facebook with only a few minor changes down the years. Timelines changes that quite radically. At present it’s only available as a developer beta, but it’s quite easy to activate if you want to have a look.

The first thing that will strike you about Facebook timelines is just how much the site has on you. By activating the new look profile, Facebook will generate a complete timeline of your life based on the information the site has on you. It can be quite interesting looking at the things it picks up – things such as my sisters birth, when I started and left certain jobs and various events I have attended were all listed on the line.

Mark Zuckerberg was very passionate  that timelines could and should tell the story of your life, but it is also a stark reminder that everything you put on Facebook is still there and can always be dug up. Be careful what you make public.

The layout of timelines will probably throw some and annoy many more. Your timeline goes vertically down the page with stories appearing to the left and right in chronological order. I quite like this system, I find it easier to see what is going on quickly without having to scroll for a while. You also have complete control over what is shown on your timeline, you can remove stories or make them bigger and more prominent for all to see (this may also affect top stories in the newsfeed).

Profile pictures have also changed – you now get two. This might sound strange at first, but actually works very well. Your traditional profile pic, the one that will be shown all over Facebook (and nowadays the web) is shown smaller than it currently is, but still in roughly the same place. Just behind it is a much wider picture, a place for you to put a group shot, or a landscape of your holiday, or in my case me and Dragon Khan at PortAventura! I really like this new ‘headline’ pic. It’s a great way to showcase a new picture you love without ruining the profile pic thumbnail.

In fact I actually love the whole interface. It makes it easier to see your most up to date activity and also look back through the archives. You easily add new info about your life, past or present (which is something I can see a lot of Facebook addicts doing!) by clicking on the timeline and writing. General info about you and your likes, places and friends is stored at the top under your headline pic in a small tidy space. This leaves the rest of your profile open to share whatever you want with your friends.

And this is what I love most about Timelines. It’s a new interface with a lot in it, but it’s not cluttered at all. It’s super easy to use and looks fantastic (in fact makes a lot of competitors look dated). And it finally focuses on what made Facebook great, sharing your life with your friends online. No silly apps or likes ruining the place, just you and your connections all in one place.

Facebook Timelines is expected to roll out before the end of the year and I’m sure there will be another swarm of complaints heading Zuckerberg’s way. But to those people I ask you just to try the new system, get used to it, give it at least a week. I’m pretty certain you’ll actually agree that Facebook are onto another winner with this one. And even if you don’t, lets be honest, you’re not going to leave FB anyway!


Thank You Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011

I hardly need to mention the sad news we woke up to this morning. The internet has already widely publicised the passing away of Steve Jobs. And although it is sad that such an inspirational personality has left us before their time, now is not the time to mourn Steve, but to celebrate the wonders he has brought to our world.

There’s no doubt that nearly every person living in the western world has something to thank Steve Jobs for. You may have never brought an Apple product yet still benefitted from the innovations Steve brought to the world. It was Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Apple that were the original driving force behind bringing computers from clunky devices that filled a room to the work and entertainment device we all know today. There’s no doubt others would have got there eventually, but Apple were the catalyst under the vision of Jobs.

Since then the software available on Mac’s has changed the industry with competitors such as Microsoft implementing many ideas from OS X into their own OS’s.

Several years later and Jobs and Apple revolutionised another industry, releasing the iPod in 2001. Nowadays that’s a household name with almost 300 million of the units sold since release. Despite not being the first, the iPod was certainly the best MP3 player available and made the idea popular. Combining that with the iTunes store and people were starting to buy music legally again – helping to save an industry that was struggling with piracy. The iPod also helped develop the MP3 player industry as a whole, would companies such as Microsoft and Sony have innovated the way they did if not competing with Jobs’ iPod?

In 2007 came the invention that Steve will no doubt be most remembered for. The iPhone has completely revolutionised not just the phone industry, but the entire way we view and interact with technology. Touchscreens had been done before, but this one was different, it was actually useable with your fingers without problem and therefore practical. Combine that with iOS, one of the most intuitive pieces of software ever created and you can see why the iPhone changed the world. Competitors such as Android wouldn’t be anywhere near as far down the line without Apple showing them how it was done first.

This success was sealed last year when Steve Jobs proudly revealed the iPad, the device that has alone sparked the tablet market back into life.

It could be argued that there is a team of people making these products, not just Steve and that of course would be true. But Steve’s vision has been woven into every single one, the idea of making technology more accessible and simple yet at the same time very very clever has always been his way forward – products which make the world an easier place.

And it was Steve’s enthusiasm for everything he created which set him apart from his peers. Even when he was on medical leave earlier this year, Steve made it back on stage for both the iPad 2 and iCloud reveals – he really cared about these products and wanted to be the one who revealed them to the world.

Steve was also renowned as hard task master. He was a man never satisfied with second best – always striving to excellence and motivating his staff to create the best products they possibly could. It was with this enthusiasm and dedication that he was able to take Apple to the top of the tech industry.

And it wasn’t just Apple that Steve was responsible for. Who could forget ‘Toy Story’, surely one of if not the greatest animated film of all time. It wouldn’t have happened if not for Steve Jobs. He was the man who believed in the studio, who helped to get them the deal with Disney, whose money got the film to a cinema release. All fans of Pixar films owe a debt of gratitude to Steve Jobs too.

I’ve only touched on the legacy that Steve Jobs leaves behind today. How much he will be missed is obvious from the incredible outpouring we have seen today from the like of Barack Obama, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Bob Iger and Eric Schmidt amongst others. Several fans have created memorials outside Apple stores to Steve.

Many have said that Steve is the Henry Ford of our time and I think I’d agree with that. He was the leading light of the tech industry, always innovating, always looking for how to improve and always hugely excited about everything he did.

ThankYou Steve for all you brought to us, may you rest in peace.

Written on my Apple MacBook and iPhone


iPhone 4S makes it’s entrance, but no sign of the iPhone 5

October 4, 2011

When Apple call a press conference, it always garners a disproportionate amount of coverage and today was no different (with tech blogs literally exploding under demand) as the company finally lifted the lid on it’s iPhone 4S.

The 4S is the successor of last years iPhone 4, the best selling Smartphone to date –  but surprisingly it isn’t much more than an incremental upgrade. When you look at the new hardware, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it as the original iPhone 4. Apple themselves have said that the exterior is pretty much identical to the 4, but the inside is quite different.

What they mean by that is that the iPhone 4S will sport a new A5 processor (the same as in the iPad 2) boast CU speeds of double it’s predecessor and graphical speeds of up to 7 times faster than the iPhone 4. And to be fair, the new processor does look impressive in action, a demo of Infinity Blade 2 ran smoothly in real time on the device with stunning visuals – although I’m sure draining the battery rather rapidly. While were on the battey, Apple claim that has been improved, but only marginally (it sounded about the same as the iPhone 4 to me with 8 hours 3G talktime).

Its clear that Apple have targeted the compact camera market (the iPhone 4 is the most popular camera model used on Flickr) and have made a very concerted effort to continue this with their new releases. As well as iOS5’s camera upgrades revealed in June the 4S has a completely rebuilt camera. That’s a 8MP resolution as opposed to iPhone 4’s 5 and a completely redesigned sensor designed to let in more light and improve sharpness. Speed has also been improved with Apple claiming the camera can launch within 1.1 seconds and have a gap between photos of no more than 0.5 seconds – a big improvement over the oft clunky iOS4 camera app.

Video is also high on Apple’s agenda. The 4S will shoot 1080p HD and includes real time video stabilisation. This is a biggie in my opinion (it’s amazing how unsteady those iPhone videos can be) and with Apple’s experience in this area with Final Cut, I expect a pretty near perfect experience from this one.

If the iPhone 4 had any issues with it’s design, it was that antenna which could drop calls when held in a certain way. Well guess what -Apple have solved it (only 15 months too late!). With new antenna switching software, the phone can work out which side your holding and switch to a different part of the antenna. Apple did say this was to help combat if the user is ‘holding it the wrong way’. I might have known it was all our fault!

It wasn’t all iPhone 4S at the press event. It was revealed that the iPhone 4 and 3GS would continue to be sold at a lower price. The 3GS will be provided for free with a contract – a big pull for the lower budget market.

We also learned that the heavily documented iOS5 will finally launch in eight days time on October 12th alongside Apple’s highly anticipated iCloud. iOS5 will be on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S, but it’s unclear if it will run on the iPhone 3GS. iCloud will be available across all iOS5 devices and OS X Lion from launch with iTunes match (the system which will match your entire iTunes library in the cloud) launching in late October.

There was also a few moments dedicated to iPods (the former Apple stronghold). The iPod nano will be refreshed with some nifty new features including an exercise app which will track your runs. iPod touch gets a new 64GB model and iPod shuffle will remain at 2GB. But sadly, it seems that the iPod classics time has finally come after there was no mention during the event.

The final and biggest announcement was Apple’s new assistant – Siri. I say new, but of course American readers have been enjoying a form of Siri on their iPhone 4’s for over a year (it was available through the app store, but never released worldwide).

Siri is voice recognition software baked into the operating system. You can ask your iPhone questions, what’s the weather like?, How are the stocks doing? Where am I? Siri will then respond, trying to mimic a human conversation and providing you with the info your after.

What’s impressive is quite how much Siri understands. If you ask for example, ‘who was the first man on the moon?’, Siri will get that info. You can then continue that conversation by saying, ‘how old is he?’ Siri will know you mean Neil Armstrong without you saying his name again. It’s a very intelligent piece of software and if it works like Apple claim, it could be revolutionary.

Siri will also send texts, set up meetings, book restaurants, set reminders, set your alarm (just by saying wake me up at…) and can of course do dictation. It is the best speech recognition software I have seen, but I am wary of technology this week. After experimenting with friends Android devices with similar tech, the results were…very hit and miss. It will be interesting to see how much Siri can refine this.

Siri will launch with the iPhone 4S on October 14th – which is a launch in the US, UK, Germany, France and Japan – and will be available in 16GB, 32GB or 64GB models. Oh and it’s also available in white!

But where was the iPhone 5, the device so many were expecting tonight. In all honesty, I’m not too surprised at the lack of it, we’ve been prepared for a small increment for a while. Although it would be good to see Apple drive the market with a new iPhone, they don’t really need to and with the 4S are clearly targeting existing 3GS owners looking for an upgrade. I do doubt that many iPhone 4 owners will upgrade, I for one will certainly be holding out for an iPhone 5 next year.

But despite the 4S being enough of an announcement, the whole conference did seem a little low key for Apple. It was Tim Cook’s first gig in charge and maybe this is why things were toned down, but something seemed to be missing from tonight – that spark of ebergy and excitement Apple provide with their products was missing. And of course we were all missing a certain Mr Jobs, no-one could launch a product like Steve…

3DS Right Slide Pad – Worst Idea Ever?

September 15, 2011

Below is a picture of the Nintendo 3DS, a solid and well made handheld console with the special ability to show 3D without glasses.

And here we have this rather nice design ruined with the introduction of Nintendo’s new slide pad…

This was announced earlier this week as Nintendo hope to salvage their struggling handheld. The idea here is that most gamers are used to the two analogue control sticks sported on the Xbox and Playstation controllers. By adding this new thumbstick, it’ll add literally endless new opportunities…  only it wont.

Nintendo’s new monstrosity will surely help enhance certain games, but it’s hardly a necessity. Heck, we managed the last five years of handheld gaming on the DS without it and even longer before then with the Gameboy.

Then there’s the fact that the thumbpad is extremely cumbersome in it’s cradle like design, killing the symmetrical look and feel of the 3DS (and no doubt being harder to play, why exactly is it parallel with the main face buttons). The thumbpad will also need external power through an AAA battery, yeah not even the more common AA ones! And Nintendo will expect you to pay around £20.00 for the ‘privilege’ of using this new device…

The upcoming Playstation Vita has dual analogue controls and was no doubt the driving force behind this bizarre addition. But when did Nintendo stop being the innovators and turn into the followers. If they thought the console needed a second analogue control, this surely should have been added as part of the original design rather than a knee-jerk decision to upcoming events.

And knee-jerk is exactly what this was. The media have been suggesting the 3DS has failed, despite sales being only a little behind the original DS at this point. The actual launch of the 3DS was actually far bigger than the DS six years prior.

But with news of Nintendo’s first ever loss, they were leapt on by the media, suggesting that the console was dead in the water. Since that time, Nintendo have slashed the 3DS price to the much more reasonable price of around £130.00 (I picked one up for £115.00) and sales seem to have significantly picked up. Yet still people suggested the hardware was flawed and this appears to have led to the ugly and pointless add-on which I do not want to buy for my handheld.

It is of course an almost certainty that Nintendo are currently prepping a 3DSi (or whatever they want to call the next revision) which will have this new thumbpad included without the bulky add on. And perhaps that will do well, but I have a 3DS and I was happy with it. I don’t want this new thumbpad (which despite Nintendo saying is optional, will probably become a required element of some games) and I don’t see how it will boost sales.

So how, you might ask, do sales increase and why exactly is the 3DS (marginally) underperforming. You can band about all sorts of theories about the control layout, mobile phones eating into the handheld market, 3D not being as good as it’s hyped to be – but the truth is as it has always been with games consoles, it needs more good games. I love the hardware, but there has been a severe lack of games since launch – sort that out and this system will fly off the shelves.

And it deserves to, it’s the best Nintendo hardware to date (and by a long way), it has no need of a dodgy add on thumbstick, it needs some damn good games and maybe, just maybe, a certain plumber may be sorting that before the year is out…

The Roar of the Lion – My views on OS X 10.7 Lion

July 22, 2011

Apple finally released their new operating system OS X Lion on Wednesday. I say finally because Apple have been teasing us with vague release dates for the OS since November last year. In fact the company were so secretive about their latest revision of OS X that they only announced it was officially launching the day before it became available for public download. But Apple’s secrets aside, how does Lion compare to previous versions of OS X and other systems available on the market?


The first difference between Lion and any other mainstream operating system is that it is distributed exclusively over the internet. The only way to currently get the OS is by purchasing it from the Mac App Store.

Like many others around the globe, I was pretty apprehensive about how well this would work, after all the download weighs in at a fairly hefty 3.75 GB. But I needn’t have worried as the download processed without a hitch. As soon as you purchase Lion, the icon sits on your dock (like with other OS X Apps) with a progress bar. Sadly this bar is far too small to actually measure the progress of the download, but it happily works away in the background and informs you when it’s ready to proceed.

For me the download took just over two hours on a connection which averages 5Mb/s. Pretty impressive speed when you consider how many people are downloading at once (over 1 million already!), guess that massive data centre is starting to come in hand for Apple.


Onto the operating system itself and the first thing that pretty much everyone will notice is that there’s a lot of new stuff from the iPhone and iPad. Now that’s not as bad as it may initially sound. I must admit that I was worried Apple could loose what was OS X by adding too much from it’s new favoured platform iOS. But the new features nicely compliment what we all know.

The most obvious example of iOS input is the new Launchpad. This new feature sits on your dock (although it can be activated through a button or gesture, more on them in a bit!) and when launched will show you all your apps on your computer, arranged as you may expect, in the same format as an iPad. Some have seen this as nothing more than a gimmick, but I disagree. Sure it’s not revolutionary, but without a Windows start-bar and little space on the dock, getting to all Apps quickly hasn’t been a strong point of OS X. Launchpad addresses this and gives a nice interface to find your what you want to use instantly.

Scrolling has also had an iOS makeover, which may take some a bit of getting used to. Instead of using a scroll bar at the side to move down the page, you place your cursor within the page and push the content up as you would on an iPad. It’s quite different to the desktop standard, in fact there isn’t a stationary scroll bar in site (they only appear when you need them according to Apple). This complete change of scrolling may seem odd, but actually makes a great deal of sense. It’s taken me a matter of a few hours to get used to it and guess what, I couldn’t imagine going back to scroll bars now, this is so much easier!

One more, perhaps controversial addition to Lion, is autocorrect, the much complained about iOS system which corrects you when you type the wrong thing. This is great a lot of the time, but can cause some quite annoying consequences when the computer gets it wrong (as it already has three times in this review). But overall I think autocorrect will be welcomed onto Mac, with a keyboard it’s much less likely for a big mistake to be made and thus autocorrect will be a help instead of a hinderance… I hope.


Without doubt, this is my favourite addition. Apple have been using trackpad gestures on their laptops for a while, but Lion takes this to the max. Need to scroll a page, push gently with two fingers. Back to the webpage you were just on? Swipe to the right with two fingers and the current page will happily move out of the way to present where you were. You can zoom by pinching, swipe between dashboard, desktop and apps by swiping three fingers and even push everything out of the way by spreading your fingers on the pad.

Theres a little bit of learning until you know what everything does, but gestures are already speeding up computing for me. yes it’s only a small amount of time saved, but the whole experience feels a lot more intuitive and simple. It makes the clunkiness of a computer disappear and leaves you with a smooth end-user experience.

Gestures of course also mark a clear step away from the Mac being a desktop computer. Although they can be used on an Apple ‘Magic Mouse’, they’re much easier to perform on a trackpad, the device of choice for a laptop. Personally I find trackpads easier than a mouse (after using purely laptops for the last four years), but I wonder if everyone will take the step and swap (desktop Macs can come with trackpads too). I hope so, because gestures really change everything.

Full Screen Apps

There’s always been something that Windows could do better than Macs – full screen. For years Apple computers had a distinct lack of a full screen option for most applications. But that’s all changed now with full-screen apps in Lion.

On the top left corner of all native apps (and already quite a few others) is a new full screen button. When pressed, everything else slides out of the way and you have your attention completely undivided withe the app filling your whole screen. It’s not revolutionary, granted, but out’s nice to finally have the option. It should also be noted that full screen apps scale to your screen very well – for example webpages in Safari adjust to the size of the screen you’re using for the best performance.

You could argue that this makes multitasking a little harder. Well Apple have thought of that too, swipe to the side and you can switch straight to your desktop or other apps in fullscreen. But maybe that’s still too difficult? Enter Apple’s other new toy.

Mission Control

A grand name for a grand idea. Macs have always been good at showing you all open apps with expose (which shrinks all windows so you can choose what you want to switch to and do so instantly). This has now been taken to the next level with Mission control.

Click the icon in the dock or swipe three fingers up and you enter this ‘birds-eye view’ of your computer. Your open windows are shown in the middle of the page, grouped by application for easy use. At the top you have access to your dashboard, desktop or any full screen apps you have open, making it easy to switch to these. You can also add new desktops to arrange your apps in the way you want to. Need to get back to them, simply enter Mission Control again and you can see exactly where everything that’s running is.

What I like about Mission Control is no matter how many apps I’ve had running, it always opens instantly on command – not even expose managed that. Without doubt a handy upgrade to an already very useful idea.

The others

These are the main noticeable differences, there are plenty of others under the hood. Resume lets you shut your computer down completely, but still start with all the same applications open when you start up the next day – no extra start up time.

Versions an automatic save feature making it much easier to keep your documents safe. Make a mistake or lose what you were working on? Versions saves it for you so you can come back to it how it was before you wrecked your important letter! It’s not available everywhere yet (mostly just in iWork), but it could be a helpful feature for the future.

Mail has received a much need upgrade. Gone is the horrible presentation and slow loading times, in is a (you guessed it) more iOS interface arranged into three columns.

And what would an OS X upgrade be without a new photo booth, this time with face tracking for more hilarious, spur of the moment photos!

The bad

At the moment I am loving OS X Lion, but I do have a few niggles (and they really are just niggles). Firstly, the fact the software was delivered online causes complications should the system crash. That 3.75 GB download doesn’t bode well for limited internet connections. I’ve made myself a back up Lion disc in case of any issue, but I do think the online delivery could cause problems.

It could be argued that the upgrade has a bit more style over substance (I can’t believe how much animation Apple have crammed in). I agree with this to an extent, it would have been nice to have a few more functional things and I do think (despite loving most of it) some of the animation could come a bit of a distraction, to me anyway!

Not a problem I have had, but I’ve seen a few reports of compatibility issues with older software. With Lion, Mac finally ditches the PowerPC support for Intel only so some popular apps (if not updated) will fail to work on this new OS. But fear not, most things still work well and in full 64 bit!

I’m also not a fan of the more ‘windows-esque’ buttons. What happened to those lovely curved buttons, replaced with dull square ones 😦 !


As you can see, my niggles are very few and far between, I love OS X Lion. At only £21.00 off the Mac App Store, it is the best priced OS I have ever seen. Mac OS X has been the market leader for desktops for a long time and by fusing their knowledge of touch devices into their desktop OS, Apple have only made it better. If you have Snow Leopard, there is really no reason not to upgrade. If you don’t have a Mac yet, why not? This is the best OS available and is worth every penny.





The Fast Lane – Fernando’s Ferrari Flies to the Front

July 10, 2011

We came to Silverstone on the back of the years dullest weekend in Valencia, hoping for just one thing – that maybe, just maybe someone would dethrone Vettel and take the victory. And luckily for us, they did indeed.

But before I get onto dissecting the race, it’s worth noting the changes at Silverstone. The brand new ‘Wing’ is undoubtedly a striking and impressive building with facilities rivalling the other key tracks on the calendar. The new technical section of track with the loop also threw up some interesting moments for the drivers, giving them a change of pace compared to the mostly high speed track.

But I do feel the track is missing something without the full complex and the legendary Bridge corner. It also feels odd that the pit-straight has very few grandstands, making both paddock areas looking a bit dull and quiet.

But these are things I’m sure we’ll get used to and will be sorted out in the future to ensure an improved overall experience. Right, on with the racing.

Conditions for the British Grand Prix were, as always, interesting. At the start of the race, one half of the track was bone dry whilst the other had an awful lot of standing water. Despite this, the opening laps of the race proved a little disappointing. After Vettel took an early lead from his team-mate and Hamilton drove around several cars to make it up to fourth place on early on(which was admittedly a sterling performance from the Brit), things calmed down all too quickly. The Red Bulls were dominant out front – in spite of their claims that the ‘new regulations’ would damage their performance – with the following Ferrari of Alonso, McLaren of Hamilton and sister Ferrari of Massa all spaced out by quite some distance.

Things were looking a bit bleak for a while as far as a race was concerned with the only action on track being a few tussles near the bottom of the pack. Of these the most notable was between Schumacher and Kobayashi – the former champion losing control and hitting the Japanese driver, losing his front wing and then being penalised with a stop/go penalty (a little unfair in my opinion). It wasn’t looking like a good day for Schumi down in 18th.

But this incident had an effect further up the field. When Schumacher pitted, he changed to slick tyres and was setting blitzing lap times. Instantly the top runners reacted, coming in and changing their tyres to the new slick rubber. This closed the pack up a bit and most notably put the Ferrari’s under pressure. Too much in fact as Hamilton made his way by Alonso in a powerful move down the new pit straight. In fact Hamilton was flying, catching the Red Bull’s up front who weren’t too far apart themselves.

But Alonso wasn’t finished yet, he continued pushing and was frequently matching and beating Hamilton’s times, all the time catching Webber and Vettel up front. Things were starting to play out interestingly for a close second-half of the race.

It was in the pit-stops that everything changed again. Hamilton had to pit early after damaging his tyres, along with Webber. This proved costly for both as Alonso, staying out longer, was able to make the undercut work and come out in front. But it wasn’t just Webber and Hamilton he beat in the pit-lane. It’s never nice to cheer at other people’s mishaps, but I couldn’t help myself when I saw Vettel’s pitstop going wrong. For the first time this season, the Red Bull pit team made a mistake – and it didn’t play into their hands.

Vettel come out behind both Alonso and Hamilton who he then engaged in a straight battle. This lasted several laps and it was interesting to see how the Red Bull of Vettel was able to catch Hamilton’s McLaren in the slower corners, yet was unable to capitalise in the slipstream on the straights – possibly the first sign of a weakness to the Red Bull 2011 car?

But Christian Horner is no fool, by pitting Vettel early, he was able to get ahead of Lewis and easily maintain second position from the McLaren. But one person who Vettel was no match for was the Ferrari of Alonso. Fernando continued to stream ahead, setting fastest lap after fastest lap. For one, the Red Bull wasn’t the top car on the day – be that due to a regulation change or not – and it meant that we finally saw Vettel properly outclassed on track in 2011.

The race wasn’t quite over yet. Hamilton was low on fuel after pressing hard in the early stages and had to drive conservatively letting a fiery Webber back through. This wasn’t enough for Mark who pressed on and found himself actually challenging Vettel for the final few laps. It was great to see these two battle it out on track once again, but in fear of a repeat of their collision last year, team boss Horner called off the fight – not that Webber was having any of it. And good on Webber. I understand Christian’s reason as team boss, but Mark has something to prove this year against Vettel and it’s great to see a proper racer who won’t give up until the chequered flag.

Perhaps Mark feels a bit undervalued at the team, as no doubt Ferrari’s Felipe Massa also does. He was mostly ignored by his team today, risking wrecking his race to ensure that Alonso had a successful day. Not the best way to run a team in my opinion.

Despite this, Felipe found himself battling Hamilton to the line in a thrilling race round the final section. It ended in contact, which could be seen as slightly dubious in the yes of some stewards, but was luckily ignored giving a fantastic drag race which Massa just lost out on. And to think, if Ferrari had bothered with Massa’s strategy a bit more he could have claimed another position…

But overall, a great day for Ferrari, brilliant to see them back at the top for the first time since Korea last year. Not so good a day for the Brits though. Hamilton was the highest British finisher in fourth place, with his teammate Button losing out due to an astonishing error by the McLaren team – they sent him out with a loose wheel! You could understand Jenson’s frustration, another British Grand Prix without a podium.

Thoughts also to Paul Di Resta. After a fantastic qualifying session, the Scot was denied any up-front action by a lousy pit-stop from the Force India team, leaving him finishing in 15th position after 52 laps. So all in all, a disappointing day to be British.

Except it wasn’t. This years British Grand Prix was a roaring success. The new pits and podium were fantastic, the new track layout is still in keeping with the old and we had an enjoyable race. The only problem is, as Alonso was the furthest behind Vettel (of the main contenders), Sebastien has actually extended his lead today. Still half the season to go, but it surely won’t be long before we can declare it his…



More Murdoch Madness!

July 6, 2011

Thought I’d throw in my two pence on the countries biggest debate right now. I am of course talking about the ‘News of the World’ phone hacking scandal.

The story has of course been dragging on for about four years now, but within the last few days things went nuclear. It was revealed by ‘The Guardian’ (who seem to have something of a vendetta against News Corp!) that the phone of murder victim Milly Dowler was hacked by ‘News of the World’ and that the contents of her voicemail was altered. This was followed yesterday and today with police investigations into the phone hacking of several victims of very emotional crime – including the parents of the Soham school girls Jessica Chapman & Holly Wells and the families of 7/7 victims.

My view is very much the same as the rest of the country, appalled. Invading the privacy of grieving families is both shocking and disgusting at the same time. Throw in the fact that the whole thing is just to make a quick buck and the story becomes even more sickening.

Throughout my training as a Broadcast Journalist, I have been told on several occasions that you will have to make moral decisions as a journalist. To an extent this is true, you won’t always get the big exclusives without stepping on a few people to get there. But this is in my opinion too far. I don’t understand how these people can live with themselves, taking people at their weakest point and exploiting them for financial gain is completely unacceptable.

But the sad truth is that ‘News of the World’ are not the only newspaper doing things like this, they’re just the ones who got caught. Fleet street is bound to be full of this kind of practice to get stories and sell papers from the Tabloids to the broadsheets.

In my opinion, journos who take it this far give journalism the bad name it often has and do not truly represent the hard working journalists out there who turn in stories in an honest and balanced fashion (believe it or not there are some out there, at least I like to think there are). Perhaps this is why I’m more a fan of broadcast journalism where competition for advertisers is not nearly as important.

But despite my initial reaction being the horror at these actions finally revealed, my mind quickly changes to the interest angle, because this is a remarkably interesting story.

Rupert Murdoch, like it or not, has controlled a lot about how this country has run for a very long time. His media saturation is such that any political party fall head-over-heels to impress him – he wins elections and dictates who stays in power.

But now, Murdoch isn’t fully in control. One of his prize money-makers has fallen from grace. The negative of being such a massive empire? It’s Murdoch and News Corp that get mentioned in every report, just as much if not more than News of The World.

This could have a big impact for Murdoch, not least with News Corp’s upcoming takeover bid for BSkyB. With so much negativity around and irresponsible journalism, Ofocm could step in and block it, halting years of planning from Murdoch.

Then there’s Rebekah Brooks, the editor of NotW during the hacks, now Chief Executive of News International. She’s embedded herself firmly within the Government and is running Murdoch’s ship for him pretty well. But she had to know about these hacks and if she didn’t, this surely proves she is an irresponsible leader. She surely has to go over this issue. Harsh words perhaps, but if the boot was on the other foot, Brooks’ papers would be calling for it.

Yet Murdoch defends her. He’s put his reputation on the line today by taking her side of the argument, putting Prime Minister David Cameron in a very difficult situation. Cameron has to win the views of the public and the easiest way to do that is to condemn these actions and the people in charge of it. But at the same time, Cameron doesn’t want to break his close ties with Murdoch’s empire.

But one man seemingly doesn’t care about staying on News Corp’s good side. Enter Ed Miliband – remember him? Leader of the Labour party… He’s a man in danger of losing the faith of his party and today he fought for that faith, challenging the PM strongly on the situation, asking him the questions he didn’t want to answer. But in doing so, he’s taken a big risk.

Miliband came out, guns blazing against Murdoch and his empire. For the present, that’s great – he’ll no doubt win supporters. But there’s still a long way to the next election. Murdoch has a massive empire, this scandal will be brushed off like a fly and in four years time when Miliband is campaigning, he won’t forget. This is why Murdoch is so powerful, he can control what goes in his papers/TV/films/websites and he can shape the way a nation thinks.

There’s a reason why all governments get in bed with Murdoch and while Miliband looks like a hero now, he could live to regret this in a few years time.

But what happens next, who knows (not even Murdoch). The police are currently investigating several hacking allegations and sources within News Corp seem to think the worst is still to come. There’s no doubt that this scandal will hurt ‘News of the World’ and the newspaper industry as a whole, but how much and how far this goes is yet to be seen.

Horrible yet oh so interesting at the same time.