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Gizmo VoIP on mobile November 29, 2006

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Nokia announced today that their N80i dual mode phone will have Gizmo software installed. With a Wifi connection, you’ll have free calls to any SIP-compliant VoIP phone (eg. Gizmo Project softphone or AuPix AP-100! …but not the proprietary Skype), and cheap calls to other landlines and mobiles. When there’s no Wifi, you can still make ‘normal’ calls, over the cellular network.

The review at O’Reilly tells of a good user experience, and a nice integration. So, next year I may get a new Nokia (N80i or N95), because the new Treo’s haven’t excited me.

Trustguide : UK civilians on ‘cyber trust’ November 13, 2006

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The Open Rights Group discusses the 101 page Trustguide report on ‘our’ “views, beliefs and needs regarding trust, security and privacy in relation to new technologies” (eg. ID cards). It’s based on 29 workshops in the South West, Wales and London, hosted by HP and BT, in conjunction with the DTI.

In the interests of informed debate, I was encouraged (and surprised, comparing it to Radio 5 Live call-ins), that people had asked :

  1. whether a given ’solution’ can actually solve the stated problem;
  2. whether it is the best solution (eg. at that $price); and
  3. whether it is worth the possible ‘knock-on’ costs (to society and law, of reducing trust and personal freedom).

On a more ‘frivolous’ note, this also gives me a place to post the URI to the (old) “Gilbert and Sullivan” on ID cards video [initially found via plasticbag.org].

Was Skype a good purchase for eBay? November 13, 2006

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The International Herald Tribune has a seemingly balanced article, that sees benefits, but doubts that the price will be justified. That’s not a new view, nor a proven one, but the article has an interesting update of the situation, a year or so in.

Further commentary on Andy Abramson’s blog.

Strange Maps November 7, 2006

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The Strange Maps blog [via Platial] has a whole load of unusual and interesting maps, often with an historical element.

eg. The Manhattan Neighbourhoods map and general feel of the site made me think of Maira Kalman’s “New Yorkistancover, (which I was pointed at recently, but can’t remember by who).

The Information Factories (Cloudware) November 6, 2006

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George Gilder’s article in Wired magazine describes how the cloud computing model (ie. servers ’somewhere on the Internet’) moves processing away from the desktop to massive server farms (Google, etc). It mentions historic quotes “The network is the computer” (Sun) and “global computing market of five mainframes” (IBM) and some interesting numbers.

In every era, the winning companies are those that waste what is abundant – as signalled by precipitously declining prices – in order to save what is scarce. Google has been profligate with the surfeits of data storage and backbone bandwidth. Conversely, it has been parsimonious with that most precious of resources, users’ patience.

Unfortunately that strategy means massive energy cost/waste (cooling, replication), and few locations will be able to provide enough (cheap) electricity as the need scales up. Fortunately “semiconductor and optical technologies are on the verge of a new leap forward” and the current economic advantages of a ‘centralised’ solution will decrease.

SETsquared November 4, 2006

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After a brief interview (yesterday), I’ve joined the SETsquared support community, to help accelerate hi-tech startups at the University of Bristol centre.

I offered one day a month (unpaid), but they have enough mentors already, so I’m most likely to be involved on occasional review panels.

Design is how it works November 3, 2006

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SoundJam; Jeff Robbin; Jon Rubinstein; Tony Fadell; PortalPlayer; Jonathan Ive; Phil Schiller; Tim Wasko; Vinnie Cieco …and Steve Jobs :

Wired.com tells about ‘other’ people behind the birth of the iPod, and the design considerations.

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like,” Jobs told the Times. “That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”