Monday, September 30, 2013

Living in the future

Gemalto has come up with an infographic (yay, I love infographics) depicting how living in a M2M connected city in 2025 will be like. Unlike most future predictions which tends to be a tad way out there, the predictions here are pretty sound. Many of these innovations such as charging stations, smart meters and photovoltaic solar panels are slowly becoming the norm in London while others like underground cycle lanes will likely only appear in new cities (we can't even get HS-2 off to a start yet!).

While it may seem crazy to think that we would be getting LTE in underground subways, I don't think the ability to tweet from the Victoria Line is far off. WiFi networks (albeit paid for, and currently limited to stations only) has already been deployed in deep level stations.
via Gemalto

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pho Cafe lay claim to word pho, ridiculed

This morning the news reached me that almost made me gag over my bowl of instant noddles. Pho Holdings Ltd, the London-based restaurant chain, appears to believe they own the word 'pho' and threatened legal action against Mo Pho, an independent Vietnamese restaurant in Brockley, London.
Ignoring the simple common sense that one can't possibly confuse the brand Pho (logo+Pho) and Mo Pho (geddit?), it is disturbing that IPO would have allowed Pho cafe to trademark the generic term pho, used to describe the popular Vietnamese noodle dish, in the first place. Imagine if Burger King were allowed to sue every burger restaurants with 'burger' in it or Pizza Express taking on Pizza East. It is that ridiculous.

After that huge PR blunder, Pho has back tracked this evening by 'allowing' Mo Pho to keep their name. A huge win for the little people, one who I will be supporting when we move to South East London. But this sorry episode does leave me with a nasty opinion of Pho cafe. Sorry Pho, you should never have attempted to claim ownership on a national culinary dish in the first place.

Source: Brockley Central

Friday, September 20, 2013

London Open House weekend

Panorama view of London from City Hall
This weekend, 830 buildings and sites will be opening their doors to the public as part of London Open House weekend. Some of these (such as 10 Downing Street) will be limited and will be subjected to ballot, but the majority will be first come first serve basis. Among my favourites are the iconic inside out Lloyds building in the City and City Hall in the South Bank. This year we will be aiming to visit the inside of the Gherkin for the first time.

As we are in the process of buying a Victorian terraced house, we will mainly be visiting similar houses that has been given a contemporary face lift. We may be planning a refurbishment sometime in the future, so it will be interesting to see how some owners and architects balance the need to be both sensitive to historical features, whilst also upgrading their homes to modern standards.

Check out London Open House for an extensive list of buildings and sites available to visit.

Three announce pricing of iPhone 5s

Three today announce it will offer Apple's latest flagship iOS smartphone, the iPhone 5s and the cute 5c starting from today. The iPhone 5s will be available from £99 and the iPhone 5c from £49 on a 24-month contract.

Never mind what I actually think about the psychedelic and almost flat iOS 7, Apple does make gorgeous looking phones (from the iPhone 4 upwards). While their persistent on sticking with a 4" display may not set the world on fire, at least the people from Cupertino recognises that not everyone wants a phablet size device as their flagship. This is criticism of companies who purposefully reduce of the specification of smaller devices like the One Mini and Galaxy S4 Mini (glares at HTC and Samsung).

In any case, the iPhone 5s will be available on Three's great value One Plan for those who prefer to go contract, which should play well once they launch their 4G LTE network later this year. Pricing for the Lumia-ish 5c has already been previously announced, but seriously, if you are into the whole iPhone thing, the 5s should be the only iPhone on your radar.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

New Look For Longer challenge

Well, well, well, I have just received a teaser for CBS Outdoor's new #Lookforlonger challenge. Yeees! If the comments on my previous coverage about the first campaign is of any indication, I am sure many of you will be just as excited as I am about this brain teaser sequel (I know I will!).

Watch out for more info at the Look For Longer website on 19 September.

Monday, September 9, 2013

My next phone...

With IFA now over I am now tasked with the horrible first world problem of choosing my next phone. This is by no means easy as I hate spending, even more so now that we are buying a house and are planning on dragging its skinny draughty Victorian ass to the 21st century.

Back when my Galaxy S4 committed seppuke after just barely a week, I considered getting a new Nokia Lumia as a replacement. I have a affinity for Windows Phone where others do not. Sadly the stonking pretty software isn't always matched with very desirable hardware. Still, there were two Lumia models to choose from - the Lumia 925 and Lumia 1020.

The 925 I discounted immediately due to its high price and 2012 spec. I had my eyes set on the 1020, and despite its outdated spec, that PureView camera sure looks enticing. Nokia appeared to have botched the launch of yet another flagship. Two months after its announcement, the Lumia 1020 has yet to be released here. And frankly, with GDR3 hardware (Snapdragon 800 SoC, 2GB RAM, 1080p display) about to hit in a month's time, why bother?

Next up on my hit list is the Xperia Z1. I played with a unit today and to be honest, I am not too bothered about the design. The design, reused from the Xperia Z, appears dated even when compared to Sony's classic Arc design from 2010. Still the specs has almost every box ticked and while the display's contrast ratio is no match for the glorious HTC One, it is a good upgrade over the Xperia Z's pitiful display. I am just not keen on that glass back, though there's nothing a case won't fix.

With Google yet to announce the new Nexus 4 (which I will likely ignore immediately because it has LG etched on it), my reluctance to hand over money to Samsung and Motorola not really bothering about this little isle means I am I a bit of a pickle. As far as first world problems goes, this is a pretty big one. HTC has yet to announce the One Max, which I am sure I will like. The rumoured Lumia 1520 'phablet' will likely take my fancy, but knowing Nokia, it will arrive on our shore in December.

Oh Apple, if only you made a 4.7" iPhone with Boot Camp on it.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Syrian woman rips into McCain

This is perhaps the most powerful video I've watched in recent time. An American Syrian woman, who has a cousin who was killed by al Qaeda Syrian 'rebels', rips into Senator McCain for this support of Obama's campaign to bomb Syria back into the stone age.

Notice how McCain would roll his eyes at her, a mark of how (every) politicians truly feels about their voters. Her opinion meant nothing to a weapons dealer. If this doesn't change your mind about American politicians on both sides of the spectrum, I don't know what will.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

On that Microsoft-Nokia sale

By now you would have read countless of op-eds about Nokia's sale of their phone division to Microsoft. Suffice to say I have nothing to add, except that I am glad that we will still be getting Nokia phones, one way or another. Sure, phones with Nokia as a brand will go away eventually, but that would happen if Microsoft doesn't buy them anyway. 

In fact, this whole sale reminds me of IBM's sale of their PC division to Lenovo. Many ThinkPad fans, like me, were understandably concerned that Lenovo would not have treated the brand with enough respect. Fortunately that hasn't been the case. Long time ThinkPad designers stayed on, and today Lenovo makes some of the best ThinkPad laptops we have ever seen. The same can happen with Nokia's phone division if handled properly.

It will be a while before we will see the benefits from the sale. But here's hoping that Nokia's phone hardware engineers and Microsoft's software engineers will work closer than ever. Past Lumia hardwares has always been hampered by Microsoft's lack of dedication to the Windows Phone platform, so a hardware division that could exert some influence on Microsoft's software division will do some good.

In any case, this sale will at least gives us hope for a Lumia Surface phone with stonking good camera.