Compass? Who would want a compass in a phone?

Techcrunch writes about the iPhone 3GS:

Don’t get me wrong, the compass is interesting, but aside from Google Maps and maybe the GPS apps, I really don’t see the point of it. And for the first few days I had no idea how to activate the compass features in Google Maps — you have to tap the location button (in the lower left corner) twice.

Someone please explain to this man the virtues of Augmented Reality.

What you’re seeing here is a iPhone 3GS video-recording an app running on an iPhone 3GS. The app overlays an icon on the screen when the phone is heading “east” (for determined values of East).

Again, just a simple couple of hours tech demo but the possibilities are amazing.

A sceptical eye on a new fund…

News Distribution Service for Government and the Private Sector

The Prime Minister has today announced the creation of the UK Innovation Investment Fund to invest in technology-based businesses with high growth potential. The new fund will focus on investing in growing small businesses, start-ups and spin-outs, in digital and life sciences, clean technology and advanced manufacturing.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Department of Health, will invest £150 million alongside private sector investment on an equal basis known as pari-passu.

OK, so £150 million is coming from the government on an equal basis with private sector investment which, by my calculations, should create a £300 million fund.

It is the Government’s belief that this could leverage enough private investment to build a fund of up to £1 billion over the next 10 years. The UK Innovation Investment Fund forms part of the Government’s strategy for Building Britain’s Future.

We’re obviously not in receipt of the facts (and this sort of addition might be responsible for MP allowances scandals). £150 million of public money plus equal participation from the private sector equals £300 million and not £1 billion. Now – we can make allowances that this is over 10 years so the revenue gained from licensing and exits of companies funded might contribute sufficient back to increase the value of the fund. Might.

Either way, the £150 million will barely cover the administration fees of the various private VC funds that will be needed to make up the other £850 million to make this into a £1 billion fund.

Just sayin’

UK Security Minister afraid to walk streets – LOLZ

TGDaily starts with the headline:

UK Government minister says iPhone is a security risk

and then continues with the text:

London, England – UK Security Minister, Lord West of Spithead, says he won’t carry an iPhone or Blackberry due to security concerns.
Speaking at a press conference yesterday to announce the set-up of the UK’s Cyber Security Operations Centre, Lord West said that he fears attack from muggers or hackers and does not feel safe in his home neighborhood in east London.

Tells you one thing.

TDDaily knows that no-one gives a flying fuck about headlines mentioning the Blackberry.

As for the actual content, the honourable government minister should shut the fuck up considering the data loss we’ve suffered under this current administration which, I note, was fuck all to do with iPhones or Blackberry devices and more to do with CD-ROMs, laptops and USB memory sticks.


One of the things about this sort of tech is that it needs explained to people. Like the compass in the new iPhone. Most people weren’t impressed until it was explained that the compass might as well be a sensor attached to the person’s head – it shows the way they are looking, and using the camera as the portal for augmented reality, means they see what you tell them to look at.

The fact that the iPhone 3.0 software finally brings in accessories means that we’re a hop-skip-jump away from clip-on gamepads and other devices which will turn our iPhones into the mobile computing powerhouses that a lot of us expected the Newton to be.

And speaking of hopping, skipping and jumping, I thought this was quite cool…

In a stance that’s uncommon for a company that has historically relied on patented technology like its Air cushioning system, Nike seems to be genuinely excited to see these tools sprout up. After all, the more apps out there, the more Nike+ gear the company can sell. “The more we can open up Nike+, the better,” says Stefan Olander, who oversees digital content for the Nike+ site. “The only reason to close it out is because you actually don’t believe that you have a strong enough product for others to want to take it and do good things with it.” So far, Nike hasn’t officially released a software kit to allow developers to hook directly into Nike+, but that’s likely to come.

The Nike+ is an established device that takes impact data from your footfalls, turning the average walk or run into a game where you’re the player, the coach and the referee – a game where the goal is to reduce your times and up your distances. By doing so, of course, you do exercise.

My interest is where the Nike+ can be taken after this. Can it be used as an additional activator? For instance, in a game, can a certain number of foot stamps be taken as a directive? How can the application of footfalls, momentum, speed be applied to augmented reality?

Implementation and Execution

Techcrunch’s Sarah Lacy asks if Execution is more important than Vision

Napster changed the music world, but it was iTunes that profited off of it. Google was one of the last companies in the Internet bubble to try their hand at building a search engine—and was laughed out of some VCs’ offices as a result. Palm pioneered the smart phone, not Blackberry. And Friendster was the social network pioneer before Mark Zuckerberg even entered college.

I’ve always been of the opinion that execution or implementation matters much more than vision or ideas. As someone who has a lot of ideas, this is no small amount of pain to bear – the knowledge that I’m seldom going to be the person building the ideas I have.

Back more than a decade ago when I was writing, the whole point of writing was to get some of the ideas I had out of my head and into the world. It didn’t actually matter if anyone read them, it was cathartic to write, I got real enjoyment out of it. It took my ideas and gave them somewhere to live in the real world. With writing I could produce something – but when the idea was an image, I’d have to pay someone to draw it. It’s the same with code – though it’s a lot more expensive to get someone to write code than draw an image (As I have discovered).

But rather than sit on these ideas, I’ve done something about it. No-one could ever accuse me of being secretive with these ideas, with my vision of things – quite the opposite when I have lunch with folk and they tell me to be more secretive. I’ve even threw a few ideas into a melting pot with two separate groups of developers to see if any of them catch. Maybe some of them will create something cool and maybe, just maybe, they’ll remember me. What’s more important to me is that someone does these things, someone builds them.

Y’see, implementation, execution, is important. I’m always hearing of folk who won’t talk to developers or potential funders without the protection of an NDA without realising that they themselves are the main ingredient. I’m sure there will be others who reckon we should maintain the secrecy, maintain a barrier of protection especially when speaking to funders. After all – if you have but 2d and they have a hundred grand, who is better placed to put together a plan to implement the idea? But if my heart and soul are not part of the vision, then it’s not an idea I’ll lose sleep over.

CodingHorror goes iPhone 3GS

Jeff Atwood of CodingHorror writes about the iPhone

I am largely ambivalent towards Apple, but it’s impossible to be ambivalent about the iPhone — and in particular, the latest and greatest iPhone 3GS. It is the Pentium to the 486 of the iPhone 3G. A landmark, genre-defining product, no longer a mere smartphone but an honest to God fully capable, no-compromises computer in the palm of your hand.

Here’s how far I am willing to go: I believe the iPhone will ultimately be judged a more important product than the original Apple Macintosh.

That’s pretty strong from someone who considers a Mac to be an expensive, beautifully designed hardware dongle…

Edu 2.0

Today I was lucky enough to attend the University of Ulster Computing and Mathematics Away Day – my role to represent Digital Circle and give the faculty staff an update on some of the exciting things we’re doing in mobile – starting with the iPhone initiative.

One of the other talks was about Web 2.0, a suitably nebulous subject which was, for this talk, defined as “The Art of Listening, Learning and Sharing” which, up front, seems to be entirely suitable for a progressive university.

The issue for universities of the future is the fact that the average 11 year old has a higher “digital literacy” than the average lecturer in a university. This obviously colours what new students will expect from a university when they attend. They will likely expect interaction from their lecturer as a “peer” in some networks and yet not desire it in others. Few students may be happy with their Lecturers being a “Facebook friend” with the expectation that the difference in the culture hierarchy will mean it affects their relationship during classes. If a lecturer follows you on Twitter, he or she may see that you’re not impressed with the latest assignment and have decided to go out to Shine instead. That’s bound to be damaging.

Donald Clark mentioned formal higher education last week during his talks at the InvestNI IP Seminars. He referenced that you can download many lectures from eminent educators on YouTube, or from iTunes U. He claimed that classical classroom teaching is a horrid way to learn and that educators should be prepared to put their teaching material online. He also suggested that those who refuse to do so are perhaps insecure about the quality of their content?

This does not mean that lecturers are redundant as according to the talk today, students believe they are paying for face to face interaction with lecturers.

What does a “digital native” expect then?

When I went to university I had pretty much zero experience of computers. Sure – I had a Spectrum 10 years earlier but that wasn’t exactly inspiring. After my second year, we were presented with UNIX-based terminals in the Open Access Centres. This began my love of networked systems. I learned what I wanted (and learned more about that than what I was being taught). We had email but never interacted with university staff except to be told off for using the systems for accessing a MUD or MUSH which were the precursors of chat rooms to a degree (and arguably a precursor of Second Life). We had an instant messenger app called “zwrite” and we could use “talk” from the command line as well. And among our little cliques, we had the best fun.

These days, the new intake into the university will consist of people who have grown up with wikipedia, with chat rooms, with email, with instant messengers. They’re used to trusting the information sources they find online, they’re extremely competent at finding sources of information and sharing that information via social bookmarking or other online tools. They expect to have access to networks like Twitter or Facebook and are immediately suspicious or resentful of regimes which restrict that access. They’ll be able to circumvent those restrictions either through hacks distributed via their social network or by just using their phones (each individually more than a hundred times more capable than the computers I first used in the Open Access Centre). They’ll expect their assessment and course materials to be available online.

What’s more interesting is what access and interaction they expect from their lecturers. They’ll expect email. But what about blogs? Twitter? Facebook? SMS? Would they give their mobile number to their lecturer?

We didn’t have these problems…


Trans is an annual festival held (traditionally) in Belfast by the Waterfront and part of it is the Urban Arts Academy – heaps of courses across diverse subjects with professional trainers – and for not a lot of money. As part of the Academy this year you can learn FreeRunning, Radio Production, Game Design and iPhone Programming.

There are some courses which run throughout the festival, from the 6th – 24th July. This includes Photography, Graphic Design, Events Management, Radio Production and Journalism.

There’s also a heap of music related courses facilitated by Musicworks NI, Sonic Academy and BEAT Initiative. These are Rock Music, Music Production (Rock), Music Production (Electronic), DJing (Beginner), DJing (Intermediate) and Live Percussion.

The Design Courses series includes Comicbook Illustration, Aerosol Art, Game Design, Street Art, 3D Animation and Fashion Design.

And this year, they’re introducing Short Courses. This includes courses in Ableton Live, Alternate Reality Gaming, Home Recording with Garageband, Creating a Music Video, VJing, and Developing iPhone Apps.

Some of these courses are proving immensely popular so get your booking in quickly

Check out the full catalogue at

iPhone 3GS Entitlementards

Let’s get something out of the way. I went out yesterday and bought an iPhone 3GS. It cost me my hard-earned cash and I’m selling my iPhone 3G to part fund this purchase. My wife has done the same. End of the day, we’re prepared to pay for the gadgets we want.

Some people think they’re entitled to anything they desire. I’ve whined about the entitlementard strategy here, here, here and here.

The latest dose of entitlementard comes at the launch of the iPhone 3GS.

It’s characterised by the #o2fail hashtag. But why are people incensed by it?

Y’see, back in October 2007, we bought out iPhones for over £250 and we were given an 18 month contract. In July of 2008, we were ‘allowed’ to break our contract and ‘upgrade’ to a subsidised iPhone 3G. It meant I spent £50-odd to get the 16 GB model and my other half upgraded for free to the 8 Gb model. It meant taking on a new contract but seeing as the iPhone was exclusive on O2, we weren’t going anywhere anyway. This iPhone was heavily subsidised, amortised across your 18 month contract, the same way that most smartphones are when you sign up to a contract and get a kick-ass phone. Nothing startling there.

The 3G was an upgrade on the original iPhone. It had a GPS, it had more storage, it had a better bluetooth chip. These things cost money. Actual, real money. Someone has to pay for that.

Roll on eleven months and the iPhone 3GS was released. Brand new chip which was 2-3 times faster than the previous model with a modest increase in clock speed, a new 3D chip, a magnetometer, more storage, a better battery and other tweaks.

Immediately a heap of folk on the ‘net expected that O2 would immediately allow ‘loyal’ iPhone 3G customers who still had 7 months or more on their contract to magically upgrade to the new iPhone. O2 offered two options. Upgrade early by:

  • using your O2 priority status (if you pay more than £80 a month, you can upgrade 6 months early and pay off the ‘extra month’. The rationale being that you’ve put a lot more cash through O2 than the average punter and they want to reward you for that – you’re much more likely to have paid off the subsidy after all.
  • buying out the remainder of your contract. Probably a minimum of £35 x 7 months as an up-front cost plus then the cost of a new contract and new phone.

and the only other option was buying a PAYG iPhone 3GS at full price and swapping SIMs. In any other situation, dealing with any other population of users, these options would be fair enough.

The explosion of anger from the so-called loyalists was nothing sort of laughable. The poor sap behind the O2 Twitter presence has to be a saint. These guys wanted free upgrades. They’ve screamed, they’ve shouted. They’ve called names, threatened to leave O2. They wanted to be able to walk out of their subsidised contracts and not have to pay up. These are not the actions and behaviour of ‘loyal’ customers. And let’s be honest – with 110% mobile phone saturation out there, the addition or subtraction of a couple of thousand subscribers is worth precisely nothing to the big carriers.

Some remain adamant that O2 will be forced to change their minds. Some are very angry that OS are not folding to their vocal public opinion and that unless you are an iPhone user with an O2 contract, you cannot fully understand the complexity of the argument with O2. Hm, now that’s not really true. This is just a case of gadget-lust, a case of some folk feeling entitled to something that they have no right being entitled to.

Now, those who did upgrade anyway are apparently “elitist/herd”.

Now, think about this. Anyone who is using the #o2fail hashtag on Twitter wants an iPhone 3GS. They want a free iPhone 3GS. Heck, I want a free iPhone 3GS. But I am willing to pay for what I want and I’m not really the sort of person to whine about it for lengthy periods of time. Remember – it’s two weeks ago that the iPhone 3GS was launched. It’s two weeks we’ve known about the pricing – and some people are still whining about it. But there’s a certain kind of hypocrisy calling people “herd” for actually deciding to go and buy it using their hard-earned cash.

That’s the Entitlementard hypocrisy.