Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Digital (rip-off) Britain.

Hello boys and girls. Today in the UK a lot of fuss is being made over Freeview and Digital TV. The reason put simply is that Freeview are getting ready to launch BBC HD, so if you have a HD Ready TV you can buy a HD Freeview box and watch HD broadcasts for free (HD being short for High Definition but you already knew that). HD broadcasts take up a lot of space on the airwaves so Freeview are doing a little 'tidy up' to make space for BBC HD. This means we all have to re-tune our Freeview boxes, don't worry it's not as complicated as you might think.

I would guess that nearly all Freeview boxes can be re-tuned by picking up the remote, pressing 'Menu' then selecting 'Settings' and finally choosing the option 'Auto Tune'. Your box will automatically scan the airwaves and store all the channels it finds. The whole process probably won't take more than ten minutes so don't be scared just because it involves the word 'Digital'.

Speaking of the word Digital there seems to be a bit of confusion as to just what Digital Television is and (in my opinion) the Electronic stores in the UK are taking advantage of this. A few weeks ago I was wandering around my local electronic store (ahem..COMET..coff..splutter) waiting for the wife when I overheard a sales assistant talking to an elderly couple. The couple just wanted to know if they needed any special equipment to watch digital TV. The sales guy said that "Just to be safe" they should buy the managers special package which included a HD Ready TV a Freeview box and an 18 month cable subscription! I did the maths and that works out to around £1080!

The elderly gent, after suffering a near heart attack, said he'd just spent money getting Sky installed but the sales guy didn't budge and insisted that "Just to be safe" the couple should buy the package and that way they would definitely have Digital TV.

I was appalled and as the sales guy stepped away to get the forms I put the couple straight and watched them run for thier lives. When the sales guy returned I put him straight too. His excuse was that he didn't have the proper training so was not able to advise people correctly. "B@#...!!" I replied and so should you if any salesman tries to convince you otherwise.

Now then readers just to clarify Sky television is a digital service and no matter how old the TV if you have a Sky box plugged into it then your already watching Digital TV. The same can be said if you have a Virgin Cable box plugged into it. No need to spend lots of money either as you could just plug a £20 Freeview box into it. Just remember to re-tune it.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Smartphones for Dumb people

Don't get me wrong, I like the iPhone. I will be eternally grateful to Apple for giving a much needed shot in the arm to the smartphone industry. They introduced the smartphone to the average consumer and taught us that we can do so much more with our phones than just send a text. However it seems that some of Apple's network partners (no names O2) are forcing these phones on people who just don't need or want them.

The other day a friend came to me saying their shiny new phone was doing strange things and asked me to take a look. Of course they pulled out an iPhone "Look it does this weird thing when I press here" they said. What they pressed was Safari, for those who aren't familiar with apple this is a web browser. My friend was shocked when I told them this and didn't believe that they could browse the web from a phone. All they wanted from a phone was the ability to make phone calls, funny that.

"So why did you get an iPhone if all you want to do is call your sister on it?" I asked, "Dunno....O2 just sent it to me, and all my friends have one..." they responded.

I don't think O2 sent an iPhone because it was the best phone for my friend more likely to tie them into a long contract. Apple claims to have sold over 10 million iPhones, that's 10 million 2 year contracts! O2 can make a lot of money if they convince people that to be cool all they need is an iPhone.

Evil corporate motives aside the question still remains, why buy a smartphone if all your doing is calling your sister on it? Smartphones can do so much and thanks to the iPhone shake up now have so much more potential than before. Personally I use a HTC Magic running the Android OS (Operating System) which means I carry around nearly everything I need in my pocket. From maps to email and calendars I can even make a phone call if I want. The point is I use all of the features it has to offer. Phones are so advanced that now when someone asks what phone they should get I give them the same response as if they were buying a computer "What do you want to do with it?".

If you want something for the office get a blackberry, If you want something for your travels and social life get Android, If you want to be with the 'cool' kids get an iPhone but you won't seem so cool scratching your head wondering why there is a web browser on your phone.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Facebook App For Android

Guys 'n' Gals

First off, thanks for visiting, I appreciate it. Secondly please feel free to comment on anything you read here as I love a good argument.

Okay down to business, last night whilst fiddling with my Android phone I found the long awaited Official Facebook app for android in the market. Now I'm not a big user of Facebook, I generally prefer Twitter but I thought maybe this is the thing to get me using Facebook more and to stop my friends pestering me to 'sign in' all the time. After all it was free and I love a bargain.

As soon as it was downloaded I had it up and running simply login as you would on the website. A friendly message pops up offering advice on how to get the best out of the app but I'm a bloke, I don't do instructions. Luckily I didn't need them the app is straightforward enough to use for anyone used to the Android way (i.e long pressing e.t.c).

The main display is a feed of your friend statuses with a text box at the top asking the familiar question 'What's on your mind?'. Long press on a friend and you get the option to Comment on their status, view their wall or see their info. If you press the menu button on your handset you get the option to view your own wall, share photo's and fiddle with the settings. I immediately fiddled with the settings where I discovered the usual notification options and refresh interval plus a great setting where you can shake the phone to refresh the status feed. Simple pleasures. The app does a fine job itself but the best bit are the two extras that come with it.

There is a nice looking widget that provides your friends status feed on your homescreen and then there is a very handy folder. Stick the folder on your home screen and it will display the contact details for all your friends! A facebook phonebook folder right there on your home screen! Click a contact and it sends the number to your dialer ready to call. This extra I find way more useful than the Official Facebook app itself. Or is it the 'Official' Facebook app?

Why in the market is the email contact That does not sound very Official to me. And why on does the app description say it wasn't developed by facebook? For more info on this check out Phandroid:

Either way if it's 'Official' or not it's still a very good Facebook app.

Keep smilin